In a world inundated with messaging and branding, we need to look beyond the numbers and tools and focus on how to connect with people. Columnist Claudine Bianchi explains.
This morning, I opened my email and was once again bombarded with more than 300 messages. And yes, I’m using a spam filter! Occasionally — okay, rarely — a subject line will grab my attention, and I’ll open the email. If the content is compelling, I might actually read it.
I appreciate that email is far from “dead,” but it’s not working the way it used to. I’m on some list in someone’s marketing automation system, and I’m doomed to continue to receive these messages unless I unsubscribe — and for some reason, I won’t for basic FOMO (fear of missing out).
Then, around noon, as I’m savoring my tofu and avocado salad (my meager post-holiday sustenance in an attempt to lose whatever I can after eating too much for weeks), someone brings something over to me that I haven’t seen in months. It’s a direct mail piece — a bona fide piece of paper with a call to action, a nice handwritten note from the rep and a stamp.
I study it — after all, it had been so long. I delight in reading through the copy, mentally critiquing the design and almost filling out the response card.
It was so out-of-the-ordinary, almost nostalgia-inducing — taking me back to a world where print ruled, where even mass-produced postcards could feel like special communiques — just for me.
Don’t get me wrong — As a marketer, I do NOT want to go back to those days. Never really knowing what was engaging prospects; waiting for weeks sometimes to see if a campaign reached the two-percent response rate (aka magic threshold); the subsequent data entry and culling of mickey-mouse completed forms.
But I couldn’t help noticing that this “traditional” means of marketing caught my attention. It stood out. I paused.
Measure For Measure
Marketing today is complex and ubiquitous. I’m sure that we are close to having marketing messages appear in our dreams as we sleep, personalized to the point of knowing whether we prefer vanilla over chocolate ice cream.
We are able to track every eye movement and mouse click as someone browses our website. We measure how long people read our content and what got them there in the first place, and we follow where they go next.
We measure, and we measure, and we measure. We get better — but we still don’t stand out.
I often describe strong marketers as having the ability to balance right-brain and left-brain thinking. There is no doubt that becoming more left-brained has helped the marketing discipline immeasurably — we can put numbers to our activities and associate our efforts with actual revenue generation.
We no longer do things we can’t measure, because only “what we measure can be improved.” It gives us a tremendous amount of credibility around “the table” — especially with CFOs and the like — but are we missing something that can’t be measured?
Are we so focused on our numbers and spreadsheets that we have stopped observing what is really having an impact?
As a marketer, I see marketing everywhere. There isn’t one thing I touch during the day that hasn’t been branded.
I’m interrupted by ads constantly. While driving, there are billboards, and there are commercials on the radio. At the office, there is a barrage of brands on everything I use. At home, I can’t help but see more logos than art — even in bathrooms, I’m reminded that I’m using the softest tissue around.
It has come to the point where I’ve tuned out a lot of the messaging and the branding because it all blends together — and I’m sure I’m not alone.
Are You Engaging Your Audience?
What’s missing in all of this marketing “stuff” is the ability to connect, to really engage with people.
Yes, we market to people, and they respond and connect with stories — but we must tell stories that touch their hearts, that they can empathize with, that are different.
And that’s something we can’t accomplish or measure in our business analytics tools without looking at what’s really happening around us.
We celebrate the marketing that does connect with us. I just wish there were more.
And I wish I didn’t have to click the “delete” button so many times each morning. I’d rather be convinced to take a moment and listen to or read something meaningful — because that would stand out, even if it’s not measurable.
Ah, three-bean salad for lunch! And maybe, just maybe, another piece of mail…
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)