But marketing can often be so much more than it is. The best marketing is never noticed, and you could argue that the worst marketing isn’t either. The difference is, we immediately know bad marketing when we see it, but we often view great marketing as being anything but….marketing.
The challenge is, how do you teach companies to market better if they simply view marketing as a way to get more sales? And how do you create marketing that’s more interesting and even alluring to customers who have been conditioned all their lives to know that marketing is a nuisance?
I was pondering this as I came across this quote from Kathy Sierra:
“Knowledge cannot be pushed into someone’s head while they sit passively reading or listening. Knowledge is a co-creation… the learner must construct the new knowledge in his own head. And usually (or some say ALWAYS), the new knowledge must be mapped into something that’s already IN the learner’s head.”
Now obviously, Kathy’s point was concerning the learning process, and how people learn better when they do more than simply read content. If you can involve them in the process and give them a way to apply what they are reading as they are reading it, you increase learning. Basically, you learn by doing.
But the ‘co-creation’ part grabbed my attention, as did the part about mapping new knowledge to something that’s already IN the learner’s head. If you change ‘knowledge’ to ‘marketing’ and change the ‘learner’ to ‘customer’, you get: ‘marketing must be mapped to something that’s already IN the customer’s head’.
In other words, marketing must tap into something that the customer finds value and relevance in.
For example, think of the Volvo print ads from many years ago with the safety pin. That helped associate ‘safety’ with Volvo vehicles, and it’s a connection that carries over to today. The key is that customers were already interested in having a safe vehicle, so Volvo was smart enough to associate itself with something that was already important to the customer.
So in order for marketing to be effective and win the attention of the potential customer, it has to be related to something that the potential customer already values. This is the classic mistake that most companies make, they try to immediately close the sale with potential customers. A potential customer has little to no idea who you are or why they should buy from you. So obviously, you should not sell to these people UNTIL they understand who you are, what you sell and why it fits into their lives.
The key then is to market to what’s important to the customer. Volvo didn’t market their cars, they marketed safety to potential customers. That got the attention of those potential customers.
I’ve talked about this before, but in order to gain awareness with a group of customers who don’t know who you are, you must focus your marketing completely on the customer. THAT is how you gain their attention. Once you have their attention, then you can market yourself to them. But not before.
This is why the best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing to your customers. Because we view marketing as being a nuisance, but if marketing is focused on what we as customers want and need, then it becomes USEFUL to us, and we actually can seek it out. We don’t view it as marketing and we don’t even realize we are being marketed to. But if marketing is bad, we immediately notice it, and ignore it.
The best marketing is invisible. The worst marketing becomes invisible.