Marketing teams spend millions of pounds in manangement time and agency fees developing briefs, tone of voice guidelines, and executions for every single broadcast message they put out. Every comma becomes a trauma, is that wardobe choice dynamic enough, does that font project our innovativeness? And once they’ve fine-tuned these messages and filmed them in glorious technicolour, they seem to sit back, their labours complete, and rest.
I prefer to think of marketing in human terms. It’s about the people. People buy stuff, not data segments or clusters. To me, this behaviour by brands and their owners is the equivalent of seeing someone across a crowded room, falling in love with them from afar, going home and crafting a perfect declaration of my love and why I am the ideal person for them, dispatching this missive, then sitting at my open bedroom window, gazing at the stars, sighing wistfully.
Marketing teams and companies talk about developing relationships with their consumers, when in reality they ignore their consumers for months at a time, then expect them to sit up, listen and applaud whenever the brand chooses to put out an advert. The time and resources devoted to building relationships between brands and their consumers is often achingly inadequate. People who make an effort to find a brand and try to engage in conversation often go unrewarded, faced with impersonal automated email systems or glossy brochure websites.
But this can be easy: it certainly doesn’t need to be hard, or even expensive. But it requires a change of mindset: it requires brands to think of their customer relationships more like, well, real relationships; which need to be 2-way, they need maintaining, they need work. Otherwise, they’re not really relationships.
And increasingly we, the people (it’s about people, remember), are starting to expect brands to be better at this stuff. If you (a brand) dip your toe into the stormy waters of Twitter or Facebook or just generally on the web, you’d better be ready to make an effort. What are you going to bring to these communities? A community implies some sense of shared purpose, some mutual benefits, some common interests. How are brands going to interact and make a positive difference to the rest of us?
I recently tweeted about this blog to @nationaltrust, hoping they’d be interested in my post about volunteering. I hoped it might be useful to them. But there was silence, no acknowldegement. Hmmmm.
On the other hand, @mayoroflondon has been a bit of a revelation to me. Boris Johnson may be a bit of an a*se, and his profile may be run by a PR team, but they tweet like a person, and they respond and say thankyou. And that makes me like him more, even if I’d rather poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick, than vote for him. He seems to get it. I just hope it’s making a difference.
I realised when I started writing this blog, that it’s all about me. And so are social media and websites. I will read and engage with people and brands who are interesting to me. I hope you (dear reader) are interested in What I Reckon, and that it resonates with you, makes some kind of connection. Brands need to think like this, really think about why I would want to spend time with them. What’s in it for me?
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