I recently had lunch with a respected colleague and friend of mine, Leoni Jansen, a corporate communications expert. At some point, the topic ‘ethical’ marketing came up, and this led to a thought-provoking discussion. Much of what we do as marketers is ‘interrupt’ people in a way they don’t ask for. We aim to enter peoples’ brain unasked with one-sided messages about the stuff we offer, vague promises, and how important we believe we are. This has been going on for years. The result has been that we’ve developed a skill to ‘ignore’ and block everything that’s noise.
The power of permission
Here’s where the ethical question comes in – because instead of changing our approach to develop messages that are built on empathy, deep understanding of the beliefs of our ideal customers, we use technology to turn up the volume of the messaging they’ve become immune to in the first place. It has led to new regulations such as GDPR that protect us as consumers from the spamming. Without consent, no access. It’s the whole principle behind Permission Marketing that Seth Godin launched back in 1999 – that’s 20 years ago!
GDPR – a blessing
I believe GDPR is possibly the blessing for marketing it has needed for years. It forces us to start talking ‘with people’, rather than ‘at them.’ It forces us to dig into the foundational question: ‘Who’s our ideal customer?’ – What defines them? What’s going on in their minds. What do they see? What do they believe? What do they care about? What do they want and need? If we’d spend more time doing this years ago, we d possibly wouldn’t even have required something like GDPR. However, that’s in hindsight
Back to goosebumps
The question is: How do you know you got it right. It’s that question where Leoni suddenly coined the phrase “I get goosebumps if it is right, I get shivers if it’s not right.’ That thought stuck with me – hence this blog. I believe this is a powerful way to challenge what you create.
Just look around you. When you see messages from companies that manage to get through, the ones that resonate most with you ‘do something’ with you –the best give you goosebumps. They get you, and they encourage you to take action. You instantly want to know more.
Then again, we have this built-in radar for BS. How often do we think ‘sure…’ and move on? Take a random website and scan it for 10 seconds. Unfortunately, too many make you shiver because we know by instinct they could do so much better. It’s not genuine. It doesn’t resonate. Instead, it does the opposite: it turns us off. Opportunity lost – effort wasted.
So, here’s a challenge to you: What could you change tomorrow to give your ideal customers goosebumps instead of shivers? Please share your idea. Together we’re stronger.