We really don't want to talk to you (how content marketing will save advertising)
Jetting home aboard a Boeing 737 at about 35,000 feet, I was in heaven. Returning from a shoot on the East Coast about 10 years ago, there was no Wi-Fi. No email. I was unreachable. Untouchable. Short of contacting the FAA and radioing the pilots, I was incommunicado. As soon as we touched down at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, I checked my messages. 15 missed calls, countless voicemails, and 342 emails — 27 were flame mail. Back to reality.
Oh, those were the days, when you had a little downtime on the plane to sit and think, catch up on loose ends or simply snooze. It was my time. Other than requesting another Jack Daniel’s by pointing at my empty glass, I didn’t have to communicate with a soul. And I loved it. Of course, it was an artificial privacy bubble. Today we’re constructing new privacy bubbles using technology. And it creates a powerful opportunity for marketers. Allow me to explain.
A New Consumer Behavior
A lot of consumers don’t want to talk to anyone if they can avoid it. Especially marketers. Customer-service clowns. Fools who don’t know what they’re talking about. People with a hidden agenda. But most of all, salespeople. So what do consumers do?
They bubble-wrap themselves with technology. They bang on review sites, looking for the average opinion of the crowd. They Google it, spending endless time scouring forums and watching videos. They prefer taking an algorithm’s recommendation at the bottom of the page to discussing anything with a person. They’re like that waitress who won’t make eye contact with you after she delivers your meal. She’s out there. She sees you. But the minute she acknowledges you, she’s trapped.
Sure, there are plenty of folks who still want to chat. They’ll go down to their local bank and shoot the breeze with their favorite teller before asking to order new checks. Egad! Other people would rather stab themselves in the eye with the courtesy pen chained to the counter.
So How Did We Get Here?
Are we incubating an epidemic of socially maladjusted introverts who wither at the slightest interaction? Is this what comes from hours of thumbing through our friends’ and strangers’ lives on Instagram and Facebook? I doubt it. For my money…
People are tired of being sold to. Consumers are tired of being duped, swindled, taken advantage of, tricked or pressured into buying something that doesn’t solve their problem. Sure, some simply melt like a delicate snowflake when confronted with a rational argument. But for the rest of us… we’re just tired of it.
We’ll shop online, find a date online or endure self-service apps. We’ll interact with a bot over talking to 11 different customer-service reps for two hours, only to get the wrong answer. True story. A bot could have gotten me the wrong answer in two minutes. Have you seen this free service? It’s a self-service app called Service that handles customer service interactions for you. I signed up yesterday.
What to Do When People Become Emotional
Consumers constructed this bubble out of frustration. Being hoodwinked makes people emotional. You’re not going to jawbone these consumers into working with your team. Today consumers control every lever in the buying process. So this is what you do.
Seed useful information at every consumer touch point. SEO that content. Don’t push it in their faces. Let them come to you. On their terms. On their schedule. If you’re familiar with content marketing, you’ll understand the type of stuff you’re gonna need:
Have your company’s equivalent of a U-Scan checkout lane for certain customers. Offer the option of a full-service lane, if that’s their jam. Options equal empowerment.
Welcome to Information Marketing
Create website experiences and apps ensuring people never have to talk to an associate or consultant, or whatever we’re calling salespeople these days. Be an honest broker. Educate them. Make the process friction-less. And make your information simple to find, everywhere they live. It’s the Information Age. Stop selling. Start content marketing.
And with that, enjoy this moment of silence as I retreat back into my privacy bubble.