Archives for posts with tag: audience


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?


Many brands feel the need to be on Social Media. Competitors do it. Other successful enterprises do it. Everybody does it. Whenever I meet with brands, they tend to think they HAVE to be on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn. They should have a blog and start developing ideas for Google+.

An armada of consultants and agencies tap into the culture of fear: If you’re not part of the Social Web, you’ll be forgotten soon. Why wouldn’t you be on Facebook, the third biggest country in the world? Is there a reason you don’t think about Google+, the platform with the fastest adoption rate of new across all social platforms? Or better: If you’re not on Twitter, you don’t have a business. If you don’t have a blog and create content, you’re not alive.

Don’t make it about numbers. Make it about your audience.

It makes sense why consultants peddle Social Media stats: It builds an impressive case for Social Media. However, it builds an impressive case for generic Social Media. Sure, Google+ has millions of users and Facebook will reach 1 billion customers soon.

The problem is: your customers are not stats or pure number. They are individuals.

The case for individuals.

It’s a common media practice to segment people. You make determinations in advance who will be your most likely customer: Baby boomers with 4 grand children, teenagers with their first car, parents with newborns.

Still, your segments are just a bunch of individuals all grouped together.

How do you know millions of teenagers driving their first car will love your product? What about the 100,000 baby boomers you expect to buy your service?

As human beings, we’re not that predictable. Why are we approaching our business that way, assuming people are extremely predictable? Just because these amazing numbers (3 trillions on Facebook!) blind us?

Think like a customer. Walk in their shoes.

You have a small restaurant. Do you think some generic blog will attract new customers?

You run a plumbing business. Do you think a Facebook page filled with renters that live close to your shop will get you new customers?

Here’s the truth: a solid and well-defined social presence will get you new customers. But you have to do a lot of research, define your new customers and find ways to reach them. You could reach a gazillion customers on social platforms but you only need the ones that will drive new business.

Social Media is not easy. It’s not some magical potion. Otherwise the world would be flooded with case studies of businesses making a lot of money through their application of social platforms.

Social Media is not the aspirin for your marketing headaches.

It’s not a quick fix or some magic that a consultant will deliver on a silver platter. You need to dig in and get your hands dirty:

– Research: Find out where your audience/prospects are active participants: Message boards, Twitter, Review sites, LinkedIn, etc. Are they open to listen to you on these platforms or do they want to be left alone?

– Plan: Once you know where they are and you feel they wouldn’t mind having you join the party, make sure you understand the culture of the platform and evaluate how others are trying to approach their customers/prospects.

– Strategy: You clearly don’t want to sell coffee to a tea drinker or the newest iPhone accessory to a rotary phone user: Look at the research and all the data you accumulated over time and make a determination how you can apply this information to develop various strategies and promotions.

– Experiment: Don’t think one strategy is the only way to go. Start small, scale up once it works or come up with new ideas when it doesn’t.

It’s not that complicated but many business owners are overwhelmed just running their business and now we added more to their workload. That’s where agencies and consultants come in. They have experience developing roadmaps, initial plans and strategies, can help you with guidelines and even execute everything for you. There are some fabulous marketers out there (Plug, plug) that understand marketing and how social platforms can complement your overall marketing initiatives. Just like you do with all your vendors: make sure to align with a good, battle tested partner.

You’ve developed your business over time because you were smart and made the right decisions. Why would you change that path just because somebody tells you there are gigazillions of people on social platforms? As far as I know, there’s no law requiring your business to be on Facebook.

You should participate on the Social Web when it can help you to reach new customers, help promote a new service/product, add another customer service channel, or help you to aggregate information. Or you’re just wasting your time and taking a placebo with no effect.


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1. The strategy includes the fragment “we will drive traffic to the micro-site”

Micro-sites had their time but it’s a time long past. Building brand experiences totally removed from the platforms people use daily and share content with their Social Graph is a strategy destined to fail. And cost you a lot of money to “drive” people to that solitary microsite.

2. Customers are considered an audience

The majority of your customers have transformed from passive consumers to active producers. They review, link, share, write, create. Marketing is about behavior change. In this age, it’s almost impossible to turn passive consumption into active participation/behavior change. Instead, focus on digital initiatives that allow people to participate: polls, question, interactions, and co-creation.

3. A reliance on buying attention

Buying disruptive advertising to get attention is not as effective as earning attention through interesting content or collaborative efforts. Good marketing earns attention. It draws you in, it makes people give away their precious time to engage with the marketing product. It’s a story well told. It’s an insight revealed.

4. The strategy includes the word ‘viral’

The viral metaphor has been abused and misquoted until it lost all its meaning. You can’t create something that just self-propagates. People pass things around in the digital world for their own social reasons. Tap into those social reasons and you will be able to create a piece of content people want to share with others.

5. Social Media is regarded as another channel

All your traditional media (offline and online) has to be social: Feeding the social platforms you chose and feeding off them. Social is not everything but everything is social.

6. They talk all day long about brand positioning

We learned a long time ago that brands can’t be everything to everybody. Brand positioning was born. In an age where brands are defined by people, brand positioning has lost its value. Modern brands have a point of view. A very strong point of view that will turn off many people and turn on your customers.

7. The majority of objectives and goals are about media metrics, not your business goals

Would you rather have an advertising campaign with an engagement rate of 20% and sales increase of 0.2% or a marketing campaign with an engagement rate of 4% and sales increase of 12%? Real brand-agency partnerships look at the business holistically, not judge the performance by the media spreadsheet.

And a bonus sign:

It’s just about you and them. Not the customer.

Take your marketing hat off for a second: As a customer, would you like to get spammed 532 Foursquare offers when you walk around a mall? Or do you want something useful, something that improves your life? It’s so easy to fall into the trap of bright, shiny objects and squeeze everything out of them until they’ve become another spam bot. It might be beneficial for the short-term but it doesn’t do anything for long-term brand equity. Customers are not a walking wallet, they are a key stakeholder in the success of your company.


Image: Courtesy of Todayandtomorrow

Segmentation, behavioral targeting, retargeting, data exchanges: The opportunities to deliver “relevant” advertising to people are endless. As a digital marketer, you have so many choices ‘targeting’ your audience and delivering ‘relevant’ messages. And, what’s the result?

“Against all odds, traditional advertising is perceived by consumers as more informative, entertaining and necessary than online advertising. Of more than 1,200 people surveyed for digital marketing show ad:tech London by Zussi Research, 69 percent believed traditional advertising was relevant to them, compared with 45 percent for online. For the TV target audience—those aged between 25-34-years old—the gap widens further: 81 percent (traditional) vs. 53 percent (online).

Worse still for digital marketers, annoyance around advertising on the Web is twice as high online as offline. Comments made were that digital advertising is “ill-structured,” “mainly irrelevant” and represents a bigger, unwanted distraction for the consumer, rather than a subtle influence.

Typical comments included: “Traditional advertising is less in your face – online seems to use all kinds of annoying tricks to make you view them, eg popups and blank screen links you click by accident. It’s an immediate turn-off.”

As the article asks: Why is this happening?

And, their answer is:

“ad:tech conference and marketing director, Christophe Asselin, says that customers aren’t responding positively the way that the industry believes. “While we are witnessing some amazing online campaigns out there, this research simply shows that the overall advertising and marketing community isn’t hitting the mark with online users.

“Customers are becoming more and more savvy to online marketing tactics and are less forgiving toward sloppy and clumsy practices mainly adapted from the old mass media communication model. Just because online is cheaper and quicker to implement, doesn’t mean you can afford to throw away its huge potential,” added Asselin.”

What happened? (Not sure if people were just asked about display advertising. If the survey includes SEM, this is even worse than anybody could have ever imagined.) Is it the abundance of online inventory? Sites plastered with display ads and text links, resembling more a weekend in a cheap tattoo parlor than a serious publication? Limited creativity packed into tiny pixel boxes? Failed integration between traditional and digital agencies/divisions? Measly budgets for creative executions? Focus on media placements first and then allowing the creative department to play in their limited sandbox? Applying lean-backward tactics to a lean-forward medium? Broadcast mentality in a narrowcast world?

I don’t have an answer. I said for a long time the effectiveness of online marketing is rapidly declining. Bright, shiny objects often let us forget that the traditional digital tools don’t work that well anymore. Or not at all. All I know is, we need to start thinking outside of the 728×90 box. Outside of quick fixes (Facebook page, anyone?) If the digital marketing industry desires continual growth, we better see these survey results as a big wake-up call.

Are we going to consider this as a big reset for the industry or just another study to yawn about? That’s the $368 billion dollar question.