Given my travel schedule and general lack of patience, I don’t watch much live television. I was one of the first Americans to buy a DVR, and the concept of time-shifting (and commercial skipping) fit snugly into my life the way Alex Rodriguez fits snugly into every PED scandal.
Last night was an exception. I took the opportunity (or made the mistake) of watching Saturday Night Live as it was broadcast. It was a repeat episode from months ago, with Christoph Waltz as host. The show itself was wildly inconsistent and uneven, as SNL so often is. But the commercials were uniformly consistent in that every one of them was head-scratchingly poor. Opaque. Self-referential. Failed attempts at humor. More than 60 years past the invention of the television ad, and THIS is the best we can muster?
Marketing is Harder Than Ever
I recognize that the challenges faced by major brands are substantial, and getting bigger. Successful marketing has never been more difficult, as consumers are adrift in a sea of invitation, with companies of every size, shape and description trying to reach them through an always-expanding nexus of media, both traditional and newfangled. The consequence is a consumer populace that is weary and wary of message and mechanism.
To fight through this clutter, brands (especially on television, but elsewhere, too) seem to be employing a “science of silly” strategy, dressing up their naked appeals to buy now with quirky characters, outlandish situations, and non sequiturs.
This won’t work.
Consumers don’t want hype, even hype disguised with a veneer of wacky. We want help. (tweet this)
We want help solving our problems, both significant and commonplace. We want help improving our lives. We want help making sense out of world fraught with uncertainty. Brands have the resources and wherewithal to provide this assistance, to create marketing that’s actually WANTED by consumers, instead marketing that’s NEEDED by companies.
This new offer from Westin hotels, providing guests workout equipment for a nominal fee is a perfect example. This, I love. This, I can use. This, I’ll remember. This should be the star of a television commercial.
But, unfortunately, this is the exception.
This kind of truly, useful marketing (which I call “Youtility” in my forthcoming new book) is all about hyper-relevance and communicating to customers in context. Doing this well requires a combination of customer understanding, nimble content creation and marketing execution, smart use of analytics, and a commitment to helping, not selling.
It’s a marketing framework for the age of information overload. It’s also neatly aligned with the concept of the Chief Executive Customer – the need to appeal to win the hearts and minds of today’s mobile and social-enabled consumer by delivering relevant, useful and profound customer experiences.
Talking Youtility at Smarter Commerce Global Summit
The “Chief Executive Customer” is at the heart of IBM’s Smarter Commerce philosophy, and will be discussed and dissected at the upcoming Smarter Commerce Global Summit 2013 in Nashville. The event will bring together a powerful combination of best practices and IBM client success stories, thought leadership, new technology, new services, marketing experts, procurement and supply chain experts and a variety of industry perspectives.
I’m the host for the Smarter Commerce Global Summit, and am also delivering a keynote version of Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype. I’m excited to address this amazing conference of thousands of worldwide business leaders, and help think through the efficacy of using marketing to inform rather than promote. Today’s consumers are smarter than ever, and we have to meet them on their terms, with marketing that’s smarter, too.
Other speakers include executives from Tesco, Target, USAA, Bank of Montreal, United Airlines, Cigna, Jaguar Land Rover, Target and hundreds more. There’s also a social media VIP group attending, including Pam Moore, Daniel Lemin (from Convince & Convert), Peter Shankman, Ted Rubin, Paul Gillin, Bryan Eisenberg, Bryan Kramer, Dino Dogan, and Glen Gilmore.
It’s going to be a tremendous event, and it’s a real honor to be asked to host. For more details on the event, visit this page.