Marketers call what they do “engagement,” “interaction,” “relationship-building” or worse yet, “encouraging the customer to experience the brand.” However, substitute “brand” with “Tabasco enema,” and you can picture the usefulness of such tactics and how uncomfortable your audience is with them.
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You must admit — marketers have a curious way with language. For decades it was the industry’s goal to “target” an audience, as if to say the only way to make money was to treat consumers as objects to be destroyed. More recently, although we are using more 2.0-friendly language for interactive marketing, just as often we still use “target” and “engagement,” both of which project the consumer as an adversary.
Though it seems strange and disjointed, the language isn’t actually the problem. Even when we use the “right” terms — or at least terms the hypersensitive have less to be offended by — too often to be ignored, the problem is that our goal is still the same as it’s always been.
Consumer Electronics: An Analogy
Imagine walking into an electronics store in search of some speakers for your home entertainment system. You don’t know exactly which ones you want, but you’re pretty sure you’ve got an idea about how to narrow your choices. You just have a few questions you want to ask about the ones the store has available.
You track down a salesperson and explain what you’re looking for and what type of system you have. Easy enough.
A normal person would expect to be given helpful information, but the head of marketing, hip to the whole “Information Superhighway” thing that’s all the rage with the kids these days, meticulously trained the sales team on how to approach prospects. Thus, instead of giving you the answer, the salesperson hits you with a thirty-second explanation about how great his company is. Worse yet, there is no skip button (Not that
one would help).
Sound like any splash pages you’ve seen?
This is what clueless people think passes for “marketing 2.0.” For all our ruminations and advocacy on the blogosphere, the goals of marketing today are the same as they’ve always been: Interruption and
Transaction. They are just dressed in a different garb.
Today’s marketers call what they do “engagement,” “interaction,” “relationship-building” or worse yet, “encouraging the customer to experience the brand.” However, substitute “brand” with “Tabasco enema,” and you can picture the usefulness of such tactics and how uncomfortable your audience is with them.
The sad news is that your company’s brand isn’t nearly as important to your audience as it is to you. Unless you’re the only provider available online, which is unlikely, it’s very easy for your audience to find someone else. No amount of “brand engagement” you pull out of your magic hat is going to make people think more about you than they do of themselves.
So don’t fool yourself about this “brand experience” thing. It’s important, and it can be done, but it isn’t going to happen because you dressed your marketing up with prettier language or pictures.