Seriously, it’s been more than a decade into the 12st century as I write this*, and I still see this question online.
While it may be well-intentioned, it is severely misguided. Listen buddy, that’s just not how it works. Not anymore.
Welcome to the 21st century. As of 2015, more than 3.2 billion people are online, more than 320 million in North America. For the first time in the history of media, more people are in control of what they watch than not.
This change in technology has changed human behavior. Since they now can, people are now more likely to control what they watch. This fundamental change has happened quickly. So much so, that the institutions of the last century (now that sounds old, doesn’t it?) are still struggling to catch up with understanding the change in paradigm, not to mention the changes in practice. Printed, ad-based, media has seen a sharp decline in their business. We can now download shows and movies on demand and, if current successful businesses are any indication, we’d rather pay for a show than watch the commercials that used to pay for them. We gloss over ads on websites…, etc.
With the increase of information coming our way, we’ve gotten more aggressive at weeding out what we don’t want to see. Social media and app notifications rule our online life, and feed straight to our smart phones. Our email inboxes are crowded with messages. We’re not hoping for more stuff, we want less, and only what we want to see. And so, our filters are getting stricter; even unforgiving.
Maybe you don’t agree with people’s increasing resistance to unauthorized messages, but the reality is the sheer number of messages coming our way on any given day reduces our ability to process them.
Your spammy, unauthorized email in my inbox doesn’t have a chance.
Don’t Take My Word For It
It’s been more than fifteen years since Seth Godin wrote Permission Marketing, where he described the old, outbound, “push” type of marketing as Interruption Marketing (2). Now, think about it: isn’t that exactly what spammy email does?
We get that annoying bunch of coupon sheets in our physical mailboxes, and are forced to sift through it for fear we might be missing an important document in the mail. We buy technology and save our shows not just for convenience, but also for the pleasure of skipping commercials (86% or viewers). More than 200 million Americans have registered their phone numbers on the FTC’s “Do Not Call” list.
Why is that?
Push / Interruption / Traditional / Outbound / Old Marketing Does Nothing To Gain Our Trust
John Jantsch has built a business and a following out of teaching a marketing model that is based on getting people to Know, Like, and Trust you.
The thing about Trust is that it is a primordial emotion, so deeply ingrained into our survival instincts that our brain uses it as a basis to make many decisions.
The thing about traditional marketing is that it works against this instinct.
Communication in outbound marketing is one way: “Hear me out”, “Look at this”, “Buy, buy, buy”. It provides no value other than maybe a decent price. Often times promises pretty much the same thing as the competitors do. It caters to the lowest common denominator, and in doing so, many times patronizes the very people it’s courting.
How is that going to work in this day and age?
Enter Inbound Marketing
In its simplest form, Inbound marketing is communicating with people in a way that they get to know who you (or your business) are, get to like and trust you.
Provide enough information that helps your prospect, and pretty soon they think of you as a trusted advisor. Someone they would buy from.
Provide entertainment, and people will look you up like they used to a specific programs at a specific time, on a specific TV network.
Provide a platform for them to shine, and they’ll promote you business like it’s their own, if for no other reason than to fulfill the need to belong.
It is that simple.
Maybe because it’s that simple is why hardened business owners have a hard time “buying into it.” Or maybe it’s because the old way, although costly, had a very strong appeal:
Old School Marketing Is Easy
With enough money, it used to be (and still is, to some extent) you could push your message to just about anyone, or anyone that you wanted. And in what seems like another era, a lot of people were too polite to hang up on a telemarketer, or gullible enough to believe your story. You do that enough times, and odds start turning in your favor. At a hefty price.
That is changing. Fast. Not human-fast, but Moore’s-Law-fast.
We can no longer take shortcuts in getting people to know, like, and trust our businesses. Business has to invest in two-way communication and providing value for customers to come via search engines, referrals, and social media (which is nothing other than amplified word of mouth).
But there’s a drawback
New School Marketing Is Hard
For one thing, given the ephemeral nature of most internet media, typically, you get all of one chance.
You have to produce or curate content, which effectively makes every successful company marketing online a digital media producing company.
You find yourself, and your company, becoming more exposed, and transparent, which takes some getting used to.
You have to really plan, and measure how you go about it, or you could burn a lot of resources.
But the good news are real good. When you’re successful, it’s because your business gets to be known for its authenticity, and the customer, scratch that, the fans become fiercely loyal.
And you just can’t buy that with your email list money.
Until next time,
* This article was originally published in Seth Godin’s UpMarket online magazine, 2012.
(1) Source: Internet World Stats
(2) Godin, Seth (1999). Permission Marketing: turning strangers into friends, and friends into customers.