The marketing world is filled with words like fans, followers, likes, fans, loyalty, engagement, commitment, participation, community, and so on and on and on and on, giving every marketer the false hope and idea what marketing should be about.
It would be beneficial for all stakeholders (clients, agencies and customers) to start with the assumption that nobody cares about what we do. This might make us feel depressed, less important and kind of useless. Still, at least we’re starting from the right point and it helps us focus on our work in the right way.
Don’t be sad: Nobody cares what anybody does.
Nobody cares about the 500+ TV channels, the thousands of magazines and radio stations, the millions of podcasts and gazillions of websites. There’s so much stuff out there, we don’t even have a tiny chance to consume 0,0001% of it. All this media is like the Atlantic, engulfing people with content wave after wave, competing with anything else that’s interesting, useful, or entertaining. With so many temptations surrounding us, seeping out of millions of screens, we should never assume anybody will notice anything we do. Oh, and don’t even assume anybody does care. Don’t kid yourself.
It gets worse: People don’t care about brands.
As a brand, you don’t want people to think about your brand too much. A strong brand will help people make quick, easy and gut-driven purchase decisions. If you’re an Apple fanboy, you don’t think about Dell or HP. It’s going to be Apple, no matter what. Strong brands solve problems. When your favorite beer is Guiness, you don’t have a beer problem. When Acura is your car brand, you don’t have a car problem. No thinking required, no decisions. No worries about price, quality or reviews.
The myth of brand loyalists
Another marketing myth is that the ultimate goal is to create brand loyalists and permanent relationships. People might ‘like’ your brand but they ‘like’ their dog 10,000 times more. For sure, people don’t love brands. They love their favorite pillow 10 million times more than your brand. Using the language of deep human emotions for brands trivializes those feelings. Brands are desperately looking for those lovers, those special ones. If you base your brand on loyalists, you will have a small party in a studio apartment in Manhattan. Brands are built by millions of light customers who buy the brand once in a while.
It’s easy to market to people who actively seek you out and use your product/services frequently. It’s hard to market to people who don’t know you, who don’t care about you, see you frequently. And, don’t get me started with the new buzzword “audience”. An audience goes to a Coldplay concert or watches the latest Spiderman movie. Advertising doesn’t have an audience, waiting for the show to start.
It gets worse.
The vast majority of advertising produced is horrendous. Go to some sad cable channel and try to stick around for the commercial breaks. Try not to change the channel within seconds. Good luck. It’s mental and creative pollution. Another proof point for people not to care about advertising.
That’s a good starting point.
At the bottom of enmity between strangers lies indifference – Soren Kierkegaard.
It’s easy to be loved, even easier to be hated. But it’s really hard to overcome indifference. You can get 1% of potential customers engaged and create participatory communities for them. It doesn’t help you when it comes to the bottom line. The real goal should be to engage the remaining 99% and that means fighting indifference.
The majority of efforts on social platforms is now limited to activating the 1% and going to church afterwards, praying the 1% will spread and amplify the word. It’s good, but not good enough. It’ll earn you brownie points but doesn’t improve business results. Unless you’re happy talking to a minority, we need to focus mainly on the 99%.
You will be judged how you engage the indifferent masses, the ones that don’t care. It starts with answering the most important questions: Why should they care more about you than all the other gazillion options they have? What’s the point? What’s in it for them?