This is a week for friends and family as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday. Most of what’s being advertised, based on my narrow sample of one, are cars and drugs. Admittedly, my viewing tends towards news and live sports with a smattering of public TV shows and other entertainment. I scroll through the commercials in the latter category but I can still get a sense of what’s being marketed.
Photo by +Simple on Unsplash
Why I raise this is that it seems to me to be a missed opportunity. As I initially stated, this is a week where friends and family gather, and when they’re not stuffing their faces or yelling at football, they talk. Among other things, I’m sure they talk about services they’ve used, places they’ve eaten, and prodcuts they’ve bought. It makes total sense that research shows that nearly three times as many people said content from friends and family influences their purchase decisions compared to content from celebrities. You can imagine how powerful it is when that “content” is delivered in person at Thanksgiving.
The research – The 2017 Consumer Content Report: Influence in the Digital Age, by Stakla – also found that
- On average, people are able to identify if an image was created by a professional or brand vs. generated by a consumer, 70% of the time.
- Consumers are three times more likely to say that content created by a consumer is authentic compared to content created by a brand
- On average, 60% of consumers say content from a friend or family member influences their purchases decisions, while just 23% of consumers say content from celebrities influenced their purchasing decisions
- People want to see content from people they know or that they can relate to.
I’m not suggesting that some brand co-opt Aunt Sally into being a hidden spokesperson nor that some product unleashes an army of Aunt Sallys into every table. I do think, however, that there is an opportunity around this time of year to focus your brand and your marketing so that you’re top of mind as the conversations are taking place. If sharing is caring, your customers need to care enough to do so and this is the best time of year for that to happen. What are you doing to help them with that?
There are an awful lot of demands made for consumers‘ attention. Think about how often you’re assaulted by someone or something that’s begging you to pay attention. Nobody can pay attention to every one of these things so how can you have a better shot at being one of the chosen few? It’s by answering a simple question for the target- “what’s in it for me?”
I’ve written on a number of occasions about the need to solve someone’s problem. In fact, if you’re not identifying the problem you’re solving in your marketing materials, there is a high likelihood that those messages are being ignored by the people you most want to respond to them. Think about walking down the streets of a crowded city. There is a lot of noise around you and yet it’s possible to have a quiet conversation with someone who is walking beside you. You’ve both learned to tune out what’s unimportant. That’s what consumers do to messages that don’t pique any interest. You need to engage consumers in a meaningful way.
One way to do this – and hopefully I’m doing it now – is to give those consumers something of value. We humans have a strong need to reciprocate so by giving people something of value you encourage a more open mindset. It can be information (Free Whitepaper!). It can be a discount or a nicely targeted product (a free shirt to people buying shorts, for example). The point is to give them something to let them know what’s in it for them. What you want back can be as simple as an email or something more complex.
Solve problems. Give value. Do both from the customer’s point of view. Pretty simple, right? Then let’s go!
I think we all know that Big Brother is watching. Putting aside what the government may or may not be doing (no politics here!), most people are aware that every move of their digital lives is cataloged, analyzed, and might be sold to someone. The Pew folks released a study about how we (Americans) feel about that. In Pew’s words:
While many Americans are willing to share personal information in exchange for tangible benefits, they are often cautious about disclosing their information and frequently unhappy about what happens to that information once companies have collected it… Many people expressed concerns about the safety and security of their personal data in light of numerous high-profile data breaches. They also regularly expressed anger about the barrage of unsolicited emails, phone calls, customized ads or other contacts that inevitably arises when they elect to share some information about themselves.
Let’s drill down a bit. The phrase “context-specific and contingent” is a good one to guide us as we think about how to set up a mutually beneficial relationship with the consumer. First, what benefit is the visitor deriving from giving me their information? Is it content? If so, is that content so unique and of such high-quality that they feel it’s an equal exchange or is it just commodity content, something reprinted from some other source? That contextual decision isn’t yours, by the way: it’s the consumer’s.
Second, what happens to that data after the consumer surrenders it? Do consumers feel you are a trustworthy repository for their information or are you selling it to anyone regardless of what that third party’s intentions are? The consumer’s initial value exchange with you might be fine, but the subsequent actions by someone else may render that satisfaction null and void. Even if you’re retaining the data, are you doing “creepy” things with it such as constantly remarketing to the consumer so they feel as if they have a stalker in their lives?
While people are used to the notion that privacy is a disappearing concept (for better or for worse), that fact doesn’t mean that they don’t care. As Pew found, they do care. I think there is always room for a company to gain an advantage by being transparent and respectful about how they are using the data consumers share with them. You?