Think of a card, any card…
I am a huge fan of magic. And after dabbling a bit on my own, I have realized that there are three types of audiences for magic: the Uninformed, the Unimpressed, and the Amazed. I wouldn’t call many brands – nor their marketing efforts – magical, but there are interesting similarities when it comes to the growth and evolution of our audiences. And I believe there is something to learn here.
My kids are continually amazed that no matter how many times they shuffle the deck, I can make their card appear. I can pull it off of the top of
the deck, bottom of the deck, and once I even pulled it right out of my pocket. Ahhh…they were amazed. But they are also young and largely uninformed. Yes, that’s my fault (amateur magician’s code and all that), but that is also my strategy. What I perform for them is predicated on the fact that they aren’t very good at paying attention. Regardless, to them I’m a magic genius. Their state of innocence reminds me of how the larger consumer audience used to be. Think back to when calling your product “the best” was met with little resistance and when we were able to manipulate our audience with relative ease. Our audience used to be uninformed about psychology, trickery, and marketing double-speak. The Uninformed paid attention to celebrity endorsements, “professionals”, and client testimonials. The Uninformed were not dumb nor gullible, they were simply…uninformed. And marketing, back then, was magic. Today, however, the tables have turned; consumers have moved on and moved up, evolved by digital, social, and easy access. Now, the Uninformed are brands still relying on simple trickery and basic misdirection, believing that the larger consumer base is still with them. And they aren’t. And it’s hard to watch.
Though my kids believe that I can actually create magic, my wife…she’s unimpressed. When I pull her card out from the deck, her reaction is simple: ‘whatevs’. She expected that I would find her card; that’s the whole point, right? She’s smart enough to know that something involving trickery happened, but she doesn’t believe it was magic, and she truly doesn’t care either way. Enter the current state of consumers. Our audience has a highly-evolved BS-meter. Instead of believing that [insert famous athlete] really loves your product, they question your wisdom in paying so much money for him/her. Product placement is noticed on TV, in movies, in videos, everywhere. Those client testimonials are no longer believed and unquestioned. We face a savvy, distrusting, smart audience base now, and it’s time for us to evolve to their level. We used to control them with our sleight of hand, pretty pictures, and fancy taglines; now they control us with their reappropriation of our messaging, direct social outreach, and their own testimonials. For the most part, our audience is very informed, and though we attempt to still trick them with our native ads, sponsored content, and formulaic headlines, it’s not working. There might be clicks and traffic, but the relationship-building stuff, the trust stuff, the long-term stuff…that’s not working. So what are we to do? How do I get their attention and move beyond ‘whatevs’?
When I watch Penn and Teller, I am truly and deeply amazed. Sure, I do not actually believe that Teller turns coins into goldfish; I am not Uninformed. And I am not Unimpressed; I am way, way impressed. In a word, I am Amazed. True magicians spend every waking moment of every day of their lives trying to achieve this level. They face an audience who knows they are being fooled and, beyond that, who are trying to discover where and how the tricks happen. So what do magicians do? They work as hard as possible to achieve amazement anyway. This, fellow marketers, is where we need to be. When is the last time we amazed our audience? I’m not talking about linkbaiting them into a click, fooling them with advertising, or relying on fat-finger syndrome. I’m asking how long it has been since your brand truly took an unimpressed audience and amazed them? The next breakout brands will be those who leverage social to amaze, who use transparency to awe, and who don’t give up just because their audience is getting smarter. If that sounds like you and your brand, we’re all excited to watch you perform!
It is our job, as marketers, to evolve with our audience, and at times we are called upon to be the catalyst for that evolution. Who is going to push the boundaries and pull consumers out of their unimpressed funk and into a world where magic and marketing are amazing again? When we lead this charge and up our game, everyone wins. So think today on how you can create “wow” moments that wake up your audience and are nothing short of amazing. Like, truly amazing.
Now back to the trick: Are you still thinking of your card? Great. King of Clubs, right? Let me know if my trick worked (@mhollowell or in the comments). And either way, let me know what else is on your mind. Have you seen an evolution in your audience? If so, what are you doing to up your game? We’d love to hear what is amazing you and what is amazing your audience.