We started out talking about the Industrial Revolution and how the mind of the consumer, and advertisers, necessarily, was on product. We believed in quality over all else, and it was the yardstick you could measure a successful business with. Then came an increase in choice. We needed a better reason to buy, since quality could be had, and easily. We actually didn’t even mind giving up quality, if the price was right. Marketers zeroed in on the emotional reasons for buying when communicating with their audience. The term “Sex Sells” was the mantra of an entire generation…
What you call ‘love’ was invented by people like me, to sell nylons.~ Don Draper, Ad Man, Fictional Character from “Ad Men”
Of course, it’s still the case in many ways, but a new type of consumer is taking over the market place. This new breed of consumer refuses to be looked at as a number, a passive participant in some game – or an audience member.
…or “Values-Marketing” emerges as a new age of marketing.
‘Human-centric marketing’ is defined by brands that approach engaging their current and prospective customers via advertising and marketing tactics as whole human beings with hearts, minds, and spirits.Philip Kotler
So remember the “fresh banana snack” from the first post, from the book Welcome to the Creative Age: Bananas, Business and the Death of Marketing by Mark Earls. The consumer is supposed to see a banana, beautifully packaged in molded plastic with a pretty label on it & subconsciously think to themselves “This banana is a better banana than a boring old regular banana!”
The problem: we’re too smart for that, we’ve ‘been had’ too many times. We saw their tricks. We know there’s a man behind the curtain pulling levers and flashing lights at us. Those kind of gimmicks and tactics piss us off, and a new generation of consumers sees the waste as a reason NOT to buy that banana. There is an opportunity for smart firms to show in a meaningful way, their own values when it comes to selling their products or service. If you rise above these types of tactics, you have it.
Values-marketing represents an evolution in consumer thinking; a culmination of cultural, societal, economic, and technological changes that have occurred over the last decade or so. As a small business owner, it’s even more important that we communicate AS actual humans. People really want to do business with other people. They want to support what they believe in. I believe it’s a logical progression from two main ingredients at the end of the last century.
- Healthy Mistrust of Online Retailers: Online sellers did some pretty shady stuff, especially back in the day. Clicking on the wrong thing could sign you up for 10 years of some book club. Remember the cell phone bills with extraneous charges from Facebook quizzes, or caveats in “User Agreements” that took advantage of our rushed natures? We now have better protections in place for consumers, but I don’t care who you are: if you are doing business via the internet, you need to overcome an inherent lack of trust that still lingers. Radial marketing and networking are great ways to broaden your circles online too. Let users know this is your company and that you care about what they think. I’m not saying that online sales are not a great way to do business! I’m saying it’s important to show what’s important off as much as you do your product. Don’t just expect visitors to click and purchase. Customers will need to see something from you first.
- In-your-face Advertising: It just kept getting louder, didn’t it? Or was that me getting older? HA! Now, this is true. We actually have a law governing commercial loudness, because they DO that to gain your attention. As all the waves of advertising came crashing around us, everywhere we went, advertisers began shouting to be heard, and they still do. We’ve had enough, haven’t we? (The collective ‘We‘.)
How do I put all that into practice?
- Tell your story. I mean the interesting bits. It still needs to boiled down to a few singular messages. I also mean share a bit about yourself. Most of us didn’t go looking for the perfect product to sell in our business. We have a passion, we do what we love, and we enjoy sharing our expertise because it makes others lives easier.
- Define your purpose. Download this worksheet, a tool for telling your story.
- Be trustworthy.
- Solve a problem. Share the solution.
- Make it relevant.
- Get social. Get chatty. Don’t hard sell.
- Connect with people of influence, start a conversation.
- Share your knowledge, consistently.
- Be yourself. You’re pretty cool.
They say an image on your business card will earn you instant rapport. Your voice in a discussion, with your people, goes even further.
It’s a balancing act. You have to jump in and start doing something! See what parts connect! Keep records on what works best and comments people give you. There are always a ton of considerations, and I’m working it out myself.
Here’s a little mental exercise. Picture your best customer. What belief, value or goal do you share with that person?