Marketing isn't working so great today because customers are tuning out. They're tuning out because they're growing intolerant of interruptions and pitching. If your marketing is feeling increasingly ineffective, it might be time to assess why.
Challenges in marketing often have less to do with marketplace competition and more to do with choice and connection than many companies realize. For many, a transition to more effective marketing is well under way.
For those who don't quite follow me yet: the reality is that customer expectations have changed. "Adapt or Die."
It's not that there are more and more competitors bidding up keywords and competing for great ad spots.
In fact, there are more channels (both on TV and the Internet) to advertise on than ever before. Your ability to target your customers is unsurpassed compared with any moment in history. Yet for many, paid marketing just doesn't deliver like it did back in the days of Overture, if you're old school enough to know what I'm talking about.
The problem with marketing today is that customers are tuning out traditional marketing because they don't want to be pitched or interrupted. They're overwhelmed with pitching in every outlet of their lives and they've opted to tune out the noise. Ad click through rates are measured in the hundreths of one percent. Ads are no longer shared, discussed, or clicked. So, no wonder it's so hard to drive clicks and conversions with traditional paid ads.
Your competitors that have figured this out are building momentum with a new breed of marketing, and those that haven't probably share your same problems and concerns. Some companies simply choose to push harder and yell louder, but today this practically guarantees some customers will shut you out entirely -- just for being a nuisance. It's just not a brand-friendly direction.
Embrace that customers have more choice than ever. It's not something you can prevent directly, but you can make yourself stand out. (Oh, and you probably won't be able to stand out on price, unless you're interested in a race to the bottom. Here's a scary thought: What if you win?)
Choice has changed the game. Customers can buy from local a specialty shop, the local wholesaler, they can comparison shop online, they can 1-click purchase on Amazon, they can read endless reviews and blogs, and they can use Google Shopping to get 50 prices for any item in about 5 seconds.
The internet combined with increasingly competent local retailers have empowered customers with the choice of any vendor in any location. While choice is indeed empowerment, it's also overwhelming. It causes customers to slow down the buying process and make sure that they make a great choice. Instead of latching onto someone's attractive sales offer, they're getting educated. Instead of letting a salesperson pitch them, they look for ways to narrow their choices to the top two or three before they start the buying process. But wait, how do they narrow their choices?
Because customers are rejecting the pitching and interruptions that come with traditional marketing, it's time that we as marketers understand the weaknesses of those approaches and seek to deliver what customers want.
What customers want is to be understood. They want to be helped. They want a genuine connection before they consider buying from you. This is evident in how 80% of consumers research their purchases online prior to purchase. A few random tweets impact buying decisions more than ever before. Add the significant importance of reviews, social proof of customer satisfaction, and hands off customer experience, and it's clear that customers are buying from companies that care to build a connection with them.
So amid the competition and overwhelming choice, as well as the decreasing effectiveness of advertising, what do you do?
You embrace this modern truth:
Customers don't care how much you know until they know how much you share!
Stop selling on Facebook. Nobody browses Facebook with a credit card in their hand. They visit facebook to connect with people (and select companies). Use Facebook to connect with customers, start a relationship through sharing information and start valuable conversations. When done right, the conversation spreads and introduces you to new voices.
Stop email blasting discounts. Here's one way to look at it: If you don't send out that offer today, will people email you asking what happened? If not, then your email is probably interrupting a good majority of your audience. Email is a great tool, but it's best used when sharing information customers will value (oh and maybe mentioning, within that content, if the item being discussed happens to be on sale). Without the valuable content, customers are more likely to scan and delete, or maybe just unsubscribe. Effective email marketing offers helpful content demonstrating how you understand what they want, ways you can help them, and a strong call to action to make it easy for interested customers to take the next step.
Stop the paid ads and banners. Traditional paid ads do nothing to help your customer choose you over your competition, so they've been getting clicked less and less for years. You can compensate by multiplying the volume of ads you have spread across the Internet, but they're still ads that nobody wants to click. It may drive more business, but, it only multiplies what's ineffective and does nothing to build a connection with your customer. Blasting out more ads is neither sustainable nor scalable.
Instead, find a way to connect. Connection is showing your customer that you care about their experience, their lifestyle, their privacy, and, their way of purchasing. Connection is showing customers you want to help them meet their needs, even if it's with a competitor's product that's a better fit. Connection is demonstrating your support for customers before, during, and especially after the sale.
Connection is building relationships through genuinely helpful exposures that happen as the customer requests it at each step of their buying journey. Only after this connection has been established will you have earned the ear of your customer.
Nothing has changed… this has always been the point of marketing.
What's changed is the tactic, because pitching no longer works.
How do you stop pitching and start connecting? Embrace inbound marketing.
After All, Sharing is Caring!