Context, Content and Caring

A recent blog post by Brian Solis calls out a systemic issue we are faced with every day as marketers – the issue of understanding consumers. Brian points to a serious lack of understanding that brands have for the context in which their consumers live.

You see folks, there once was a time when businesses believed that they were in business because they had a product – not necessarily because there was a market for this product. And, there once was a time, only shortly after businesses believed their product was enough, that marketing was called upon to cater to the people who consumed. But, what catering to the consumer meant – at least at that time – was to put pretty pictures and nifty words on a poster and hope it would make people want the product.

The issue with this approach was that brands would broadcast to their consumers all the things they thought their consumers wanted to see and hear.

Now, with the advent of social media platforms and quick adoption rates, marketers, businesses and brands rejoice. There is a direct view to the consumer and more of what “we think they want”. This plethora of information has been taken in and more than one brand is taking the opportunity to talk to their consumer. But that’s the problem, isnt’t it? The dialogue isn’t really dialogue.

I recently gave a presentation at Social Media Masters in Toronto. The premise of my presentation was to share that brands must become human again. We, as marketers and business owners, must allow brands to become human again. Taking notice of the social media chatter is only one part… It empowers us to better understand the context in which our consumers live, but it also gives us the opportunity to see the type of content that genuinely engages them. It is this engagement that gets us one step closer to real dialogue. And real dialogue is the beginning of creating human brands.

The magic ingredient – the one that can’t really be taught but is inherently known – is: CARING.

We are not in business because we have a product or service. That is a table stake – you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t! We are in business because there is a consumer that wants, needs and/or desires our product or service.

In today’s economy, our consumers are guarding their money. They may still want what we have to offer, but if there’s no deeper reason to purchase than that of the transaction itself, chances are your product/service won’t be chosen. What sets you apart is how you treat your consumers – on every level.

Stand apart from your competition:

  • Consider your consumer’s context. This goes beyond demographics and sociographics and starts to consider psychographics, life moments and hobbies.
  • Develop and nurture genuinely good and exciting content that commands engagement to get even better!
  • And for the love of Pete – give a damn! You have to start genuinely caring for the person on the other side of the transaction. Not just at that single moment in time, but onward. It’s how loyalty gets developed!

Does anyone do a good job of this? I give you Dove. Dove recognizes the realities that women face when defining beauty for themselves. They develop content that requires engagement – and through engagement gets deeper helping women define their own beauty. And they care – facilitating opportunities for women to bond and share experiences in defining beauty. (And, for the record – Dove is the #1 selling soap in the US; receiving this status post the Dove Beauty Campaign being launched more than 6 years ago. ROI does follow.)

When you develop your next campaign – think about your audiences’ context, develop engaging content, and care.

Judith Samuels