Imagine you are walking along a busy shopping center filled with your favorite branded stores. Someone in a trench coat appears before you. They open the trench coat to reveal dozens of trinkets and expensive jewelry.
This isn't what you came to the mall to purchase. You feel put upon and pressured. The person in the trench coat follows you until you buy something from them.
This is what marketing feels like today. You can't peruse the internet without getting an ad about something you don't want to be shoved in your face.
But how do you market to anyone without making them feel this way?
That's the mystery we're going to unravel today. Let's figure out how to put the customer at the center of your marketing and keep them coming back for more.
1. Market "With" and Not "At"
What do we find behind buzzwords like "collaboration" and "connection?" The ability to personalize and build relationships.
In the 50s, companies like Tide, in fear of losing out to other companies who emulate their product, began to market "at" people. Marketing became aggressive in the age of television. If you didn't, you lost out to the competition.
Fast forward to today, and the age of the internet has changed all that. Yes, competition is just as fierce, but the internet isn't like television. TV was a one-way broadcast and the internet is a two-way broadcast.
The people of the internet age expect to have a voice. Brandon Evans recently coined the term "marketing "with" consumers." And it's the perfect colloquialism to describe what marketing should be in the age of the internet.
Marketing companies like YouTube are one step ahead. They've latched onto a crazy concept. Consumer-to-brand marketing or democratized marketing where consumers choose the content they want in their advertisements.
This includes surveys, "skip ad" buttons, and interactive ads.
2. Label Your Customers
On the surface, this sounds like a bad idea. In the '90s GenXers railed against societal labels.
But there is a disconnect between what people say and what people do.
If you want to understand what people want, don't look at their words. Look at their actions. Research your customer's behavior.
And what people really want is to be part of a "group." Take the GenXers, for example. They wanted to be known as individualists. But they respond to and take pride in the label of "GenXer" even today.
Research shows that when we label people by the group they're loyal to, they're 15% more likely to engage.
The airline industry has figured out how to leverage this tendency. They use credit card points to label people "gold" or "platinum" members and then give perks accordingly. And nobody seems to complain about being labeled in these situations.
3. Understand Social Intelligence
But if you're not nearly as large as H&M, you can still measure social intelligence by using readily available datasets.
Putting the Customer at the Center Is Easy
It may seem you need to be crafty or sly to figure out the customer. But this isn't a racket. Treat people like people, and figure out how to ease their pain by giving them what they want.
Put away the trench coat and start a conversation. You'll quickly find that putting the customer at the center of your marketing is easy.
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