By Ryan Velez
Business professionals have likely seen marketing evolve several times over during their lifetime. In the origins of marketing, it was all about interrupting your potential customer, whether it was a door-to-door sales pitch, telemarketer, or TV ad. However, times have changed, and in a world where we are bombarded with stimuli, an added distraction for a product is not only unwanted, but creates a negative association with your brand. Black Enterprise covers how “fishing,” the idea of presenting something desirable to attract those who need or want it, has become superior.
To clear up one thing, not all forms of interruption-based marketing are dead. Look no further than your television to hear it. However, many of these ads have celebrity endorsements and top copywriters and production values. In addition, fishing allows you to target your audience of choice in a much more sophisticated manner. Some of the most successful businesses have made this work, but you need to know who you are looking for.
It may be hard to believe, but Starbucks started out with zero advertising. How did they manage to make it? According to CEO Howard Schultz, “Our stores are our billboard.” This approach would work out, but only because he had a deep understanding of what people are looking for. Retired Starbucks North American President Howard Behar explained, “I saw it was all about the people. We’re not in the coffee business serving people, we’re in the people business serving coffee. I knew that intrinsically.”
How does this work out on a smaller scale? One example is called permission-based marketing. This is similar to fishing in the sense that you present something attractive so people will be drawn in. For example, rather than a realtor sending out a dozen flyers over the year, they may send reports each quarter on neighborhood sales. This is something your audience will want to know, the bait. The result is that when they read, they also take in your advertising willingly. The result is that your brand becomes associated with info and expertise in your field.
The same premise applies to social media as well. Don’t send out a tweet or post asking people to use your business directly. Instead, create an article or chart with relevant information about your field. Make yourself relevant, and people will remember your business, but for all the right reasons. Of course, to do this properly, make sure you think long and hard about what the customers want. Putting up irrelevant content is just as bad as the old interruption style.