People Don’t Care

There’s one assumption that I start every marketing campaign with: People don’t care.

Every communication must assume that customers, prospects, and other stakeholders — e.g. people — don’t care, and aren’t looking for a brand to communicate with them. Even with permission, most folks aren’t eagerly awaiting our next outreach. As communicators, it is our job to give them a reason to care.

Yet, self-centered drivel fills most corporate and nonprofit emails, blogs, social updates, etc. An inability to focus on the customer plagues brands through era and medium.

Companies can’t help themselves.

They create a game of messaging tic-tac-toe to satisfy an innate need for their work to be important. It’s important to executives and marketers because that’s how they spend 50 hours of their week together, building something every week, month and year.

Meanwhile, the customer turns to the brand for an answer, a resolution to an issue, perhaps a special something to make life better. And that’s where it begins and ends, with the customer and their decision to buy or not to buy.

So when marketers bore them to death with messaging and facts about why x is important, we actually turn people away. Because we have not delivered an answer or something special.

Where is the utility? How is it entertaining? Why should anyone not employed by the company care?

Native advertising is such a big craze these day because brands have to pay-to-play. They have no choice because their communications bore just about anyone who reads them. The attempts to make them social have failed outside of core evangelist communities.

This continuing failure forces me to conclude that a vast majority of customers, prospects and donors just don’t care about brands. We haven’t given them a good reason to invest in us.

Everything created for them has to focus on giving them reasons to become interested. Communications have to revolve around the customer’s core motivations and needs. Otherwise you create messages that serve as lukewarm rallying points to keep employees and vendors motivated rather than true marketing touches.

What do you think? Do people care about marketing content and messages?

Image by Ida Stalder

Imperfection

Imperfection - Circular Polarizer
Image by Richard Cocks

Have you ever reviewed a piece of your work and shuddered afterwards? Do you get mad when one person criticizes something you invested a great deal of time on, even though dozens of others laud the effort?

Typos, incomplete theory, lack of experience, poor timing, fear of public speaking, a bad decision; just some of the many flaws that can “taint” work. It’s worse when flaws are beyond your control; vendors, friends, etc. You have to live with it.

Elusive perfection can drive you crazy.

Welcome to humanity. Flawed, troubled, imperfect, some learning, some not… We all screw up.

Imperfection is one of the most humbling aspects of life that will continue until it is over, and our ashes are spread across the earth. It is something we all must suffer. This maddening pain can only be relieved by embracing our personal imperfections. There is no escape.

All projects must end, every single one of them with some flaw, some aspect that can be improved. Rare is the perfect effort.

It’s best to look at what could be improved, be happy with what went right, and learn from the experience. Sometimes we must suffer the same mistake again. That may be our journey. This is the stuff of millennia of philosophy, theology, and human storytelling. It is not a unique phenomena; rather, a quandary every human being faces.

Salty Criticism

Sometimes criticism can sting like salt in a wound. Imperfection confronts us.

But can we simply say that our efforts are definitively in the right? It is unacceptable to simply say, “No, that type of criticism is invalid.” It may really be incorrect. But then again, time may reveal that critique was spot on. Our experience (or ego) at that time did not permit us to see it.

Wrong or not, criticism is a reality of the human condition, and the more public and well known you become, the more you will receive. But even the most humble of workers and family members suffer from the bruises of criticism. That’s why when in disagreement, it is often best to state our point of view – factually to the best of our ability — and move on.

The great fight is not worth it. In essence, take it with a grain of salt. Learn what you can. In time, things may make more sense. Or the critic was simply wrong.

This sector is one of opinion with many degrees of opposing views. If everyone agrees with you, you’re not talking to enough people. But it is important to remember that every single one of us — critic, critiqued and observer — are flawed. Imperfect.

Depending on how you view flaws and criticism, imperfection simply is. Or it is simply painful.

What do you think of imperfection?