One of the posts that I highlighted this week in the #30Thursday round-up was a post by Beth Harte about how marketing people and PR people are still trying to “push” using Social Media. Then, today, Chris Brogan referred to how John E. Kennedy and Albert Lasker combined to create the idea of advertising as “salesmanship in print.” Sometimes, ideas collide and create something new.
A little review
First, a brief reminder about some Social Media best practices. Do not use “sell” language. Do not auto-DM sales opportunities. Do not tweet out news releases. Do not blog your selly e-newsletter stories. This is what Beth Harte’s blog post is all about. Social Media is supposed to be about engagement. People don’t want to be sold to anymore. Rather, they want to know why getting that product or service from you is better than getting the same thing from someone else. Your job, as their friend, is to steer them the right way. Sometimes that means you might steer them away from making you money. If push marketing had a polar opposite from Mars, say, this would be it.
“Peoples is peoples”
Even as a thirty-something, one of my favorite movies remains Muppets Take Manhattan. I can’t help it. It’s the muppets, it reminds me of my childhood, AND it has references to marketing. What more could you want, really? Anyway, one of the lines that is repeated a couple of times in the movie is “Peoples is peoples.” That’s what I’m really going to be talking about here in this post. Let me explain what I mean.
We say that you should not push your products or services out when you are using Social Media. You should engage with people, inform, create relationships, and make them literally desperate to form a professional relationship with you. So what a lot of companies are doing right now is concentrating on that, and then they are turning around and placing an ad in a trade publication that has starbursts, big neon pink “buy now” copy, and some cheesy image meant to attract the eye (these are not ads that we have done, just for the record).
This is where I get kind of confused. You approach Social Media knowing that in order to attract customers, especially high quality customers, you need to keep the sales message soft. You want to reach the same demographics, only you’re more targeted, in an industry publication. And so now, those same people are going to be flipping through the magazine saying, “Gosh, I really want to be smacked across the face with a hard sales message!”
I think not.
Peoples is peoples.
Advertising is dead. Long live advertising.
I do not think that all of this means the end of advertising as an entity. I just think it signals how advertising could evolve, meet the era in which we live (despite the strong nostalgic pull of Mad Men), and make a huge comeback.
Yep. I said it. I think that advertising could become massively effective for companies, but you have to play the game the right way.
OK, I can tell that you’re feeling a little faint. Let me back up a bit.
When you are writing a blog, like this one here, you really have no idea who is reading it. Sure, people are subscribing. Some are commenting. You can see who is tweeting it out. But more than likely, that is only telling part of the story. There is also no guarantee that the people involved in all of those actions are the people you want to target as your key audience.
“Gosh,” you might be thinking to yourself. “I wish there was a way to still reach my key customers and prospects while having some qualification to know that I’m in the right place.”
That, my friends, is called advertising.
Now, don’t get me wrong. If you are just placing space in a sort of willy nilly fashion, this idea will not work. You need to have someone that is willing to study BPA audits of publication circulation, compare those numbers with other publications who claim to do the same thing, and make recommendations about what the best place for you would be. Our agency happens to have over 50 years of experience in doing just that sort of thing in case you want to learn more.
Let’s say, though, that you place your ad in a publication that you know is reaching exactly who you want to reach. The next key is to treat them exactly the way you would online. Do not use your ad space to smack people with a sales call when they are looking for knowledge. This is not difficult. You KNOW these people. You customize your products or services to keep THESE people happy and willing to do business with you. You hear from them wherever you go. You know what their struggles are. You know why you can help them.
If you or your company blogs, and if you follow Social Media best practices, you probably spend a lot of time talking about your industry. You talk about problems that might be haunting your customers. They know, because you are transparent, that there is always a soft sell sneaking around in the corner, but they also know that you are offering really valuable information.
Why can’t we do that in ads? Of course you can still have a call to action. Of course people are going to understand on a cerebral level that they are looking at an ad. But why not make it worth their while? Why not make it feel like you are talking directly to them? Why not invite people to your blog OR your website? Why not have a call to action that invites people to carry the conversation further with you on Twitter?
Advertising doesn’t have to die. There’s a cure. It’s called a life-change. It’s called reinvigorating the concept. And it’s all based around the simple concept that your customers are people, no matter how you are trying to reach them. Peoples is peoples.
1st image by Jakub Krechowicz. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/sqback
2nd Image by Stephen Davies. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/steved_np3