Always start with your members

Mass media are getting less mass. People spend more time than ever consuming the content, and this trend only seems to speed up. Growth accelerates with developments in mobile devices’ capabilities and generational addiction to social media. It all accounts for a colossal communication inflation, fragmentation and clutter. To engage with your audience you first need to find them, and, paradoxically, modern technology makes it even harder. People may feel that now they are in control of what they want to listen to and spend their time on, but the ugly truth is that it’s all driven by soulless AI and machine learning algorithms.

The velocity changes in technology do not go hand in hand with the development of our brains and cognitive abilities. From an evolutionary point of view, human brain remains similar to caveman brain. Dozen years of postindustrial revolution compared to millions of years of human evolution are a mere blink of an eye, so the minds of today’s men are not ready for such volume of stimuli. Some say that the brain is even regressing, and, when it comes to our attention span, we should compare ourselves to goldfish rather than to primal people.

In marketing, winning attention is a prerequisite to building engagement. In the good old days, it was enough to master your competition. But now, you compete not only with the brands that sell similar products or deliver similar services. When it comes to human attention, you compete against the billion-dollar walled gardens, supported with sophisticated, AI-driven algorithms for which “time spent” and “share of time” is the ultimate goal.

Does it sound like an impossible game to win?
Yes, this is something that a big tech platforms would like you to think. That there is no other way than to rely on their support and letting them do the work, engaging with your customers using your money entirely on their platforms for this purpose. This is why they build even higher fences around their gardens by killing third-party cookies or e-mail client restriction updates, making your life as a marketer even more challenging— focusing you on thinking about channels you can use, not the audience you want to reach.

But that’s only the hoax. You can play this game with your own rules. Having the channels-first mindset and planning the communication separately, your customers could be receiving the wrong message, in a wrong place, at a wrong time, and more than once along their experience journey. This limits your potential and reduces your assets in fighting for people’s attention.

With your single view of the customers, all the data points from traces that your customers leave on the journey, you have a great potential to avoid duplication of spend and channel. You can plan your customer engagement in an integrated way to find the right people in the right channel, deliver the right content and message at the right time. And what is equally essential: correct scale, optimizing your media budget and boosting your investment efficiency.

In November 2015, in front of the Global Leadership team, I announced that email marketing is a dinosaur, and it will extinct in the near future, so we should move our direct communication from own channels (e-mail and sms) to social media platforms. I couldn’t have received more enthusiastic applause, and at the same time, we all couldn’t have been more wrong! From that day, the things that extinct are the organic reach on social media and transparent rules, how you can reach your customers on the third-party platforms. Owned data and direct access to your customers becomes more important than ever—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic companies who built/understood it earlier, came out of the crisis stronger.

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