It’s All About Building Influence.
One thing you will learn about me, I like simple answers. I think the most complex problems are solved by the easy answer, so here goes. An Internet Marketer uses the Internet to influence people’s decisions to do things.
Notice I didn’t say “buy stuff.” There’s a reason for that. If you are an Internet Marketer for a not-for-profit trying to get awareness of an issue, or an Internet Marketer for a political candidate trying to get votes, or an Internet Marketer for a company trying to build brand awareness (the list could go on) you are not necessarily “selling” a product, rather you are trying to influence opinion.
By influencing opinion you can do anything.
Now Wikipedia and other sites will give you laundry lists of the things that Internet Marketers do. If you are interested in that click the link above. At the end of the day, however, Internet Marketing is really about getting people interested in what you are doing online. If you want to know what great marketers do, read on.
What Great Marketers Do.
Seth Godin is a great marketer. He has written a dozen best-selling books on marketing including the bluntly titled “All Marketers Are Liars” (Seth recently re-released this book with the work “Liars” crossed out, and the words “Story Tellers” written in). In a 2005 article Seth wrote his own laundry list of what every good marketer knows. He said things like:
- Anticipated, personal and relevant advertising always does better than unsolicited junk.
- Making promises and keeping them is a great way to build a brand.
- Your best customers are worth far more than your average customers.
- Share of wallet is easier, more profitable and ultimately more effective a measure than share of market. Marketing begins before the product is created.
- Advertising is just a symptom, a tactic. Marketing is about far more than that.
- Low price is a great way to sell a commodity. That’s not marketing, though, that’s efficiency
These points are just a sample from the list, and Godin gives some very sound advice. There are three points from his list that should serve as guideposts for anyone looking to do great marketing, especially in the realm of social media.
Great Marketing Encourages the Right Sort of Conversations
“Conversations among the members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations.”
You do not want to be the marketer who believes the lie that people will buy what you are selling because of some intrinsic greatness your product possesses. People will buy what they want and you are not in charge of that (another gem from Godin’s list: “your prospects don’t care about you”).
Rather then convincing them and then getting frustrated with a market that just doesn’t “get it” find a way to connect to your customer by offering that little something “extra” that creates an “emotional bonus.” This is the magic part of the marketers job, and your best tools to make it happen are stories.
Good Marketers Tell a Story
“People all over the world, and of every income level, respond to marketing that promises and delivers basic human wants. Good marketers tell a story.”
Basic human wants can be broken down into two major categories: The desire for gain and the desire to avoid loss. All fears are a manifestation of one of these two desires (fear of not getting or fear of losing).
In 1943, behavioral psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote a paper called “A Theory of Human Motivation” where he proposed a hierarchy of needs that places human motivation into five-tiers of importance.
These motivations can be diagrammed as a pyramid, with the simplest and most common motivations comprising the base and higher, more esoteric motivations the top. Here are Maslows hierarchy of needs listed out for you with number 1 comprising the base of the pyramid and number 5 the top:
- Physiological – food, water, sleep, breathing, sex, homeostasis
- Safety – security of body, employment, resources, family, health, property, morality
- Love/belonging – friendship, family, sexual intimacy
- Esteem – self esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others
- Self actualization – morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts
Maslow’s theory provides a framework for marketers to do their jobs and tell stories that matter to their customers. Marketing stories should be crafted to tap into different levels of the motivational pyramid. The higher up your message appeals the greater emotional connection you can create. Tapping into the human wants and needs through great storytelling moves marketing out of the realm of sleazy convincing and hustling and into the realm of psychological and emotional engagement.
Your stories should always focus on showing the customer how their lives can be better because of what you are marketing, not how great your product, idea or charity is. Think of it like dating: you wouldn’t want to go on a second date with someone who sat at dinner the entire time talking about how great they are. Most of us want to engage with people who want to know about us, ask questions and listen.
Why should marketing be any different?
Great marketers know this and spend their time identifying the right audience for their product, developing a message that will communicate and resonate with that audience and creating the best experience for people who choose to pay attention.
A.M.P. Up Your Marketing to Match Your Customers Worldview
“Effective stories match the worldview of the people you are telling the story to.”
We’ve spoken about the importance of marketing to your audience and the wants rather than just proclaiming the greatness of your products. Crafting a marketing story that matches your customers worldview means going the extra mile to know and connect with your customer.
Think of ways to “A.M.P.” up your marketing. When you “amp” anything up it means putting real power into it – in marketing terms it stands for the following:
- A – audience. Every marketing effort must start here by identifying, understanding and knowing how to reach the core audience.
- M – message. Develop marketing messages that will resonate with your audience based your experience with them and what you know to be true for them. Here is where great storytelling makes all the difference.
- P – product. Notice this comes last in the formula. Unfortunately too many companies put their products first and then try to wedge the audience in through marketing. The product is the answer to the problems presented in the story. You need a great product experience for the preceding items to have a lasting and repeated effect.
Godin says that “living and breathing an authentic story is the best way to survive in a conversation-rich world.” That means you should adopt the no-bullshit policy.
Strip out jargon and corporate speak from your marketing materials. Stop pretending to be the infallible, all knowing, wonderful wizard of Oz (he was just a lost guy behind a curtain after all). Get to know your customer and then build a marketing dialogue that feels like a real relationship (if your company is small enough or savvy enough you should be building actual relationships!). Just remember, the story always goes back to your customer and their experience.
Honest Influence: Identifying the Right Benefits for the Right Customer
Influencing your customer does not mean lying to them or telling them what they want to hear. Influence means finding the right customer, the one who can most benefit from what you have to offer, and making them care deeply about what you have to offer, so much so they are moved to act.
Bottom line: tell a compelling story and keep it real.