Just jettison some old habits, such as trying to manipulate prospects. Stop viewing purchasers as conquests. They are members of a community, prepared to adore (or the opposite) not just your stuff but the inner you. Your essence is transmitted continually via your relationships with consumers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, neighbors and the Earth itself.
Welcome to the Relationship Era. Say goodbye to positioning, preemption and unique selling position. This is about turning everything you understood about marketing upside down so that you can land right side up. This is about tapping into the Human Element.
Begin with a simple experiment. Type "I love Apple" into your Google search bar. You will get 3.27 million hits. If you type "I love Starbucks," 2.7 million hits. Zappos: 1.19 million.
"I love Citibank" gets you 21,100. AT&T Wireless: 7,890. Exxon: 4,730. Dow Chemical: 3. Out of 7 billion human beings, three! Just to put that into context, type "I love Satan" and you get 293,000 hits. Now consider that in the past 12 months, Citibank, AT&T Wireless, Exxon Mobil and Dow have spent $2 billion on advertising. How's that working out for them?
The methodology here may not be especially rigorous, but the results dramatize two immutable facts of contemporary marketing life:
1. Millions of people will, of their own volition, announce to the world their affection for a brand. Not for a person, an artwork or a dessert but for a product or service. Congratulations. People care deeply about you.
2. Whether you like it or not, your brand is inextricably entwined in such relationships. If you were to type in "I hate Exxon," you'd get 2.16 million hits--not counting the "I hate Exxon Mobil" Facebook page. Though people are listening less to your messages, it doesn't stop them from thinking and talking about you. And each of those expressions of like, dislike, ardor or disgust has an exponent that reflects the outward ripples of social interaction.
In short, as you have realized but most likely not come to grips with, you are being evaluated 24/7 in countless conversations that have zero to do with your ad slogan. On the contrary, they are about your brand's essential self--which behooves you to think very hard about your essential self.
This has ceased to be an option. History has made that decision for you.
End of the Consumer Era
Mass advertising sustained marketers and media for more than 300 years. The last stage of that epoch -- from roughly 1965 to about five minutes ago -- was the Consumer Era. It was characterized by a shift from advertising and marketing focused on the product (Brylcreem: "A little dab'll do ya!" Lucky Strike cigarettes: "It's toasted!") to getting into the heads and hearts of consumers (MasterCard "Priceless." Nike : "Just do it.").
It was a four-step process. 1) Ascertain through research what the public desired. 2) Offer it. 3) Create advertising designed to seduce, impress, entertain, frighten or flatter the target audience. 4) Place that advertising in media favored by the target .
Why not? Where's the flaw in selling people what they wish to have by reaching them with messages they relate to in the places they like to be? Thinking of others ... isn't that what Mommy and Daddy told us to do?
Yet, for three fundamental reasons, those universal marketing practices must be discarded.
For starters -- briefly, because this is no longer controversial -- there is the ongoing chaos scenario: the inexorable collapse of mass media and mass marketing, and the hyper-fragmentation of their online successors. Meanwhile, DVR fast-forwarding, spam filters and opt-outs have essentially reduced audience measurement to a faith-based initiative.
It's a paradox: a revolution that in one critical aspect moves us backward. While digital tools have taken the power of the heavily capitalized Few and distributed it to the Many, they have also nearly obliterated anybody's capacity to reach the Many in one fell swoop. The Industrial Revolution was revolutionary because it created efficiency through scale. The Digital Revolution, by contrast, has decimated scale.
So, yes, upheaval is violently altering the landscape.