Up until relatively recently, branding, public relations (PR), and advertising have been the only ways businesses could speak directly at their customers. In branding (often a blanket term used for all three forms of messaging), a business is actively trying position itself in a way that is attractive to it’s customers. In public relations, a business is increasing it’s reputation, sharing it’s expertise, and sharing news, often through some form of a third party (a magazine article, news clip, interview, or sponsorship, to name a few). In advertising, a business (or their marketing team) develops a campaign aimed at attracting a target market and places that campaign where their target market can see the advertisement. Billboards, bus signage, airplanes pulling banners along the beach, TV commercials, newspaper ads, slides in a movie theater, event sponsorship, and direct mail are just some of the possible ways to reach customers via advertising.
The goal with any of these forms of marketing is two-fold: (a) brand recognition through repetition, and (b) that the customer will be intrigued enough by the brand/PR/advertisement to make a transaction with the business. This standard marketing cycle is very transactional: Create intrigue; Reach customers; Customer makes purchase; Brand interaction ends there; Cycle needs to begin again to be successful.
Starting in the 90’s, the internet came into play. Email became a thing. Cell phones became a necessity, texting was born. Then social media was ‘invented.’ And not far behind that came this thing called the smartphone. Suddenly, the world was connected, 24/7, in realtime. It was easy for customers and brands to be in communication with each other. The businesses that are successful in this new world are the ones that talk with their customers, and not at them.
Think back to those early days of Facebook. When a business ran a business page post, the analytic that was most watched was “How many people saw this post?” Your success was measured in REACH. That number was the holy grail. But that has changed. Now we measure the success of a single post (or any form of marketing: an advertisement, a presentation, a newspaper article) by engagement. How many people click, like, comment, share, or otherwise engage with the post? How many people click through your website and stay there? How many new customers do you have that feel like they are part of your brand, rather than someone who simply buys from your brand? Marketing has evolved to a world where actual engagement is way more important than reach.
Do I actually want you to cease all your marketing efforts? No, not at all. Do I want you to stop marketing like it’s 1999? Yes. Stop hiding behind your witty tagline. Stop relying on business cards, brochures and postcards to do your talking for you. Stop letting your website do all your leg work. Stop marketing and start engaging. Treat your branding, PR, and advertising as a chance to start a conversation with your customer. Build a trust and a rapport with your customer. Build relationships and change the trajectory of your marketing cycle. Stop talking at your audience and start talking with them instead. Because elevating engagement is everything.
Is your marketing engaging your customers? Contact us today for a free evaluation.