I recently read the book “The 24 Hour Customer” by Adrain C. Ott. In the book, the author explains a phenomena we all experience but perhaps do not realize. The human brain is so bombarded with advertising, that the brain has learned to filter out much of it. We do not read our spam email, we delete it. We do not read pop up ads, we automatically close them. We ignore web banners because we know it is not part of the information on the page we came to read. In effect, our brains have learned to not see what is right in front of us.
This ability serves us well in navigating through our day. But for a business trying to grow, it becomes an interesting barrier to break through. How do you advertise to those who’s brains have evolved to ignore advertising?
The best way is to engage the customer. It is no longer enough to just have a website, a facebook and such, and just put it there and hope a potential customer reads it. That is just being passive. Engaging the customer means making posts that invite conversation, and joining in on the conversation itself.
An example of very engaging marketing happened to me recently. I saw a thread on a music forum I like to visit. The thread was created by a guy who works for a music instrument company, and his posts referenced upcoming product releases. I posted a comment, and it came up we would both be at the upcoming trade show, and we should meet up. So we did. I was upfront and told him I have a mental block with his company’s products, because even though I know they are great now, and I have friends who use them and love them, the fact remains the company’s product used to be really poor, and there were problems in the past. I admitted, my brain is still stuck on their problematic past. He acknowledged this is a common issue the company has. We talked further. And then I walked off thinking “wow, this company makes great products!” And for the first time ever, I would even consider owning one.
Many years of having a set in stone opinion about a company was suddenly reversed by having a conversation!
For the last few years, I have observed how some companies use social media compared to others. Some companies just post something on their company’s social media, and they think that is engaging. But without following up on the post, the post itself is really just another example of being passive. Other companies really make it a point to update often, ask questions, and reply to conversations, making communication with the customer a two way street. This engages the customer, and ads much more value. Customers then feel like they are a part of something.
Young bands tend to be good as this train of thought. Most bands understand how competitive the music landscape is. Most bands understand that today, they have to engage the music fan to keep themselves relevant. Just making an album and going on tour is not enough. They understand they have to stay connected with the fans. A small business could actually learn a lot from how bands market themselves online.
Of course, many will read this and think, “that’s fine and dandy, but I can’t afford to spend that much time engaging customers!” But in a competitive market place, can you really afford not to?