Guess what fellow marketers? The people we so desperately want to pay attention to us don’t like us very much. In fact, they are working really hard to avoid us. About 86% of people make an active effort to hide their digital footprint. The #1 reason is hackers, which makes sense because, I mean, people believe those guys are stealing identities and stuff. But #2 was marketers. I mentioned this in a previous post about Big Data. We are getting more and more behind the 8-ball on this.
People do not trust marketing. And in many cases, people are spot on in their assessment of our level of trustworthiness. So, I have a few suggestions that may provide he ground work to reverse this course, but we all have to agree to DO these things. Now, some will argue that this list is primarily semantics. They would be right, but the way we talk bleeds into our actions and tactics. We need to stop talking in certain ways so that we can begin thinking in different ways, too.
One of the biggest challenges we face in terms of the way we talk is how we talk about people who might buy our products. We have to stop talking about people in terms that are disrespectful. Think about it, we call them consumers. It is a cold term; one that implies some human machine that is just endlessly consuming. I do not want to think about the people who might buy my product in that way. You shouldn’t either.
Another term that makes my skin crawl is user. User, as a term for people, feels parasitic in nature and I hate it. And then there is target, oh Heavens! I do not want to ever be anyone’s target. It is actually kind of scary in this day and age to be a target, so let’s cross that one off the list too. So, if we could just make one big change as a profession, let’s just call them people. People buy products, or at least they might if we start talking with them in more respectful ways.
Stop trying to “Get in Front of Them”
There is nothing more frustrating that being interrupted. If you think about the phrase “getting in front of the customer”, we are aiming to get directly in a person’s path and impede their progress. Be it walking into a store and being hounded by a salesperson or a commercial break in our shows, it frustrates people and has forced them to develop tools and technology to get around us. It has made our relationship needlessly adversarial. Instead, we marketers really should be focusing our efforts on finding more subtle ways to add value so that people come to us. This is a more frictionless path and one that will provide people and marketers with the ability to get to know one another better so that collectively we can create a better experience.
Stay focused on relationships, conversation and dialog
As social media has grown, we have changed the way we talk about people to a degree. We now talk about wanting to build relationships with people. But, we also cannot stop talking about owning them. We have to stop not only saying this, but we have to stop thinking this way. We have to stop trying to own people. It not only sounds bad, slavery is illegal.
Let’s stop being creepy
Adtech is starting to feel all NSA to a lot of people. People are obscuring their digital footprint because of this. We are being far too intrusive to learn about people’s habits. Even beyond digital, we are starting to go too far in the real world as well. I recently saw an article that Mondelez is going to be inserting cameras at shelf level to study shopping habits. I don’t know about you, but I do NOT want to Keebler Elves spying on me in the grocery store. Intelligence about people who might buy are products are important, however, I would argue at what cost. Do we really want our potential customers to feel stalked? The cost there, for me, is too high.
Trust them first
Being trustworthy means having trust in others. I hope we can start rebuilding some trust with people in the future because the next few cohorts will suffer this nonsense far less than the current cohorts.