McLellan: You're just not that important
Friday, January 31, 2014 7:00 AM
Here’s a marketing fundamental that people seem to struggle with, especially when it comes to their own products or services.
Even to your biggest brand advocate, in the grand scheme of their life, you’re just not that important. And even on the rare day that you are absolutely the most important thing they’re thinking of, you are probably an element of a bigger picture that isn’t centered on you.
Let me give you an example. Odds are you know that I’m a fan of all things Disney. I’m not a casual consumer; I am absolutely a brand zealot. I’ve been to Walt Disney World at least once a year since it opened in 1971. I own Disney vacation club property and the No. 1 item on my bucket list is to spend a night in Cinderella’s castle. So you would think that the folks at Disney would find it a pretty easy task to get my attention.
After all, I’ve:
• Shared my email with them for all of their properties;
• Answered numerous surveys and always checked Yes when they ask if they can contact me for more information;
• Walked through the parks, picking up trash and giving people directions because I think of it as MY park;
• Been a beta tester for several of their initiatives, always gladly giving them feedback.
And yet, when they email me about a special or try to entice me with online display ads, their efforts often fall on deaf ears because on that day, my brain and heart are otherwise occupied. I’ll scan the email eventually or I might tuck the ad’s headline in my memory and poke around later to see if I can get the details, but at that moment, Disney is simply not occupying any real estate in my psyche.
It doesn’t mean my love for them is waning. It’s just the reality of human beings. Brands matter to us because they are tangentially connected to something or someone we love or hate or have to think about a lot. But very few brands are so pivotal in a consumer’s life that they sit around and just think about the brand without that context.
So how do we use this insight to influence our marketing?
Be ever present: Unless you are Carnac the Magnificent, Johnny Carson’s mind reader character, you never know when one of your customers or prospects is suddenly going to turn their mind in your direction. Which means that you need to be “on stage and present” 24/7. That means more than just having a website, app or Facebook page, by the way. One way to be ever present is to create communications that are both helpful and evergreen. Maybe it’s an interactive map that they might bookmark or a PDF of the various sizes your product comes in and a guide to help them select the right size for every job.
Understand your relevance: I think this is easier on the consumer side of things, but it’s as important to think about on the B2B side. When you market your product or services, understand how you are relevant to your consumer. Do you help them protect their family? Do you help them earn a promotion? This is a twist on the “think benefits, not features” reminder, but it bears repeating.
Never stop reaching out: There’s a fine line here, but as long as you are helpful and/or entertaining, your audience will tolerate a regular effort to reach them, even if they’re not ready to buy or to buy again. Consistency and intent are key to continuing to earn their permission to keep at it.
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