By Adam Fraser.
I confess that it’s been some time since I frequented the night club scene, but there’s one thing I remember for sure.
It’s noisy. Very noisy.
Lots of people taking at once, lots of background noise to distract and a struggle to hear what anyone is saying.
One logical response is to shout to be heard. But this has limited effectiveness if everyone else is shouting at the same time. So what do you do…shout louder?
Which brings us on to brands and the current social media marketing landscape.
Many commentators have many different views on social media, but I think there is one thing everyone agrees on. It’s crowded. It’s noisy. Lots and lots of people are talking at the same time. We may even be heading into content shock.
Like that cool nightclub everyone is hanging out at, suddenly it’s hard to be found or heard by the people you want to connect with.
So what’s a brand to do? Sure you can try shouting louder for a while – and sure if you have deep pockets, and enough budget some of that may get through to consumers’ ever shortening attention spans. But the recipient of these messages is very likely to simply tire at someone shouting AT them all the time. Decreasing effectiveness will kick in at some point.
So where do hardware stores fit into this tale? Well last weekend I found myself looking for bathroom tile paint in a well known Sydney hardware store (side-note: it’s not often, even in a crowded blogosphere, that you can squeeze a nightclub and bathroom tile paint into the same post….).
What was interesting about this experience (which let’s be honest was otherwise pretty forgettable) was the way this brand chose to sell to me.
They could have shouted loudly. “We are the shiniest”, “We are the glossiest”, “We are the cheapest”. “Buy now for 10% discount”. But no.
The clear direction from this particular brand was to check out a YouTube video they had produced showing me how to paint bathroom tiles step by step.
Yep that’s right. This brand chose to be useful rather than hard sell. Possibly even help me in a way which would allow me to purchase another product. But where am I likely to go once I have learned “how to”….? Yep of course, that same brand.
Attempting to cut through the noise with interruption marketing, and self proclaimed statements of superiority is having less and less impact as consumers increasingly tune out. But being useful is absolutely a way to cut through in a positive way into the consciousness of the consumer. As a brand, rather than trying to ram the door open, why not try to be invited in?
Jay Baer has written a book about this called “Youtility” which I have just completed and highly recommend. As Jay says:
“The difference between helping and selling is just two letters. But those two letters are critically important to the success of business today. Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it. It’s a new marketing model for the age of information overload.”
Jay’s book contains countless examples of brands that chose to help first and sell second. It’s something all brands need to think about.
When did you last actually take in a message from a banner ad? Or an email from that deep discount email business offering you 50% off a massage? How about that direct mail in your mailbox? Even the 30 second slot on TV self proclaiming brilliance?
As new technologies facilitate ever greater volumes of noise and information, consumer behavior is evolving at a rapid pace. Consumers’ radars are increasingly laser-like in their detection of hard sells, ‘mere puffery’ and one way broadcast communications. But make a consumer’s life easier without immediately asking for anything in return and you may just have a friend for life.
When you are thinking about your social media and content marketing strategy, think about the problems and questions your audiences have and how you can solve them. Lose the mentality that it’s all about you, and make the consumer the hero of your storytelling.
Attention is becoming the scarce asset all brands need to earn. Make people’s lives easier or better in some way and you may just then have a shot at piercing their consciousness in this noisy world.