At least one speaker at the recent MarketingSherpa Email Summit mentioned that today brands must deal with the “all about me” consumer. The implication seemed to be that this was something new, but I disagree with that notion. It’s not that consumers’ natures have changed. It’s that the tools at their disposal to express their natures have, making it clear what it’s always been about: them.
Something to talk about
Not long ago, I had a negative experience with a major brand. In the past I would have only been able to express my dissatisfaction to a handful of people -- and, depending on my influence, might have altered their buying decisions. Now, I can reach out to hundreds and even thousands of people via email, Twitter, Facebook and any number of other social networks, and my experience (good or bad) can affect their choices. The power of word-of-mouth isn’t news. What’s news is the volume it now has.
The song remains the same
While the two-way communication of email and other networks has turned the volume up, the message remains consistent: it’s all about me. I visualize this as a jaw-breaker candy: different layers upon layers till you get to the core. The layers represent our different priorities -- and the closer they are to the center, the more important they are. At the very core is that focus on the individual.
Don’t step on my blue suede shoes
Marketers have become accustomed to calling the tune and dancing with the public when it suits them, but that party is over. Traditional media and its one-way nature helped to play into this because control of the interactions (if any) were dictated by the channel, and not the consumer. In other words, no longer are marketing and PR people calling a square dance. With email and social networks today, consumers have their own bands and can turn up the volume to ear-splitting levels. You can stuff cotton in your ears if you wish, but just because you aren’t listening don’t expect the music to stop.
The audience is doing a lot more than just listening today! Your subscribers, friends and followers are talking and debating -- and, more than ever before, choosing their own music to dance to. Brands are invited to the party as long as they know they aren’t “spinning” the tunes.
The skills you need to effectively interact -- as opposed to react -- today are different from those we might traditionally associate with marketing and public relations. Channels such as social networks and email are changing public relations into public interactions. This means the spin doctor is out, and the brand ambassador is in.