Let’s turn that frown upside down. Yes, marketing is hard, but there’s also more opportunity for customer engagement now than ever, right? It’s just a matter of knowing when to market, rather than just sell.
First, the challenges, then the silver lining(s):
Marketers have to deal with extremely fragmented audiences. Being a media buyer used to be one of the easiest jobs in marketing—pop a few TV spots on some network channels, place a couple of ads in the papers. Now it’s one of the hardest jobs in marketing, said social media/content strategist Jay Baer, president of social media and content marketing consultancy Convince & Convert, speaking at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Nashville.
“Because everything and everybody now is media,” said Baer.
Marketers also face a rather significant trust issue. According to research by Edelman, only 48% of people trust businesses—which is somewhat alarming. Not one to mince words: “More than half of your customers don’t trust you,” said Baer.
Then there’s that latest and greatest of marketing bugbears: Big Data. Just think about the approximate number of, for example, blogs out there: 173 million as of last year. “Yes, half of those are about cats, but 86 and a half million non-cat blogs is still a lot of information.” Multiply that by Facebook posts, tweets, and other unstructured god-knows, and it becomes quite the task to analyze…or even read.
So, how do you tackle all that to your advantage?
It’s simple. Well, kind of. You have to create “youtility.” (“Youtility,” for the uninitiated, is Baer’s new term for “marketing so useful, people would actually pay for it.”) If you do that, you might just be a viable contender for a consumer’s attention. “Every cute cat video is a competitor in every sense of the word,” said Baer.
Just be useful. Jettison the hype and provide consumers with help—help finding information, help making decisions, help choosing the right product even if it’s not your own. Consumers crave information, and if you give them quality content, they will appreciate it. Brands that make a real effort to discover their consumers’ needs and then map those needs to executions will be the ones that elicit loyalty and, more importantly, trust. It also doesn’t hurt to market your marketing a little.
“Content is fire and social media is gasoline, but too often we treat it the other way around, said Baer. Companies that use social to promote the utility of their services first and themselves second will be better off. “The reality is, a lot of us continue to treat social media like the world’s shortest press release, and that’s not going to work no matter how much technology you buy,” he said. “’We’re awesome, click hear to find out why’ just doesn’t fly.”
Useful content can’t be what Baer calls a “Trojan Horse.” It has to live on its own merits. Clorox’s Find a Stain app is a good example. Users toggle between types of stains—blood, beer, burger drippings, grass—and the app provides tips for the best way to get rid of them. The interesting, maybe even brave part, is that Clorox will give a tip even if Clorox isn’t the right answer. Like butter—apparently Clorox is really bad on butter stains, but “butter” is still listed in Clorox’s stain library with advice on how to get rid of it using a different product.
“Youtility isn’t just about what you make,” said Baer. “So make the story bigger.”
Because if you sell something, you make a customer today. If you help someone, you might get a customer for life.