Marketers don’t learn this lesson easily.
October 23 2019
We don’t listen.
We’re told it’s important when we’re young. In school. At our first job. In marriage. That we have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
But when it comes to marketing, it all goes out the window. We think it’s by accident. It isn’t.
The truth is, we like the sound of our own voices. We like the features in our products. We like to be sure others understood how great our work is. If we keep talking, we think we have more chances of being heard. If we use more words, perhaps more of them will land.
Marketers don’t learn this lesson easily.
No wonder everyone’s saying marketing is getting harder.
In this post we’re going to cover some examples of where, as marketers, we think we’re listening, but aren’t. Then we’re going to cover some ways we can really listen, and how doing so will transform the way our marketing performs.
“They’re not clicking my ad, even though I’ve done testing.”
Social media ads are getting more expensive.
Every effective advertising platform becomes more expensive. If it works, the value increases. More people use it. Real estate becomes more expensive. It’s a supply and demand cycle like any other.
When prices are low and competition is scarce, it’s easy to coast along with mediocre assets and still turn a profit. But when the prices go up, the margin between cost per acquisition and profit narrows. There’s less room for underperforming advertising assets in an acquisition system.
So testing begins. Optimization becomes important. We start researching for ways to make our ads work better.
We’re watching the ad spend flow out faster than our sales go up. Some ads seem to fall flat, even after tweaking them to match what the articles on the Internet say.
Worse, Facebook tweaks their algorithm to penalize tweaks. Meddling with ads make ads worse.
What’s the solution?
Advertising isn’t about you.
Let that sink in deeper than it has in the past.
It’s really not about you at all.
Think about it.
When you see an ad, do your concerns rush immediately to the talking head in the video, the company who’s logo embellishes your screen? Or do you immediately jump to the defensive, wondering why this person is intruding your space? Or perhaps you listen to what it has to offer, trying to quickly determine whether or not it has any utility for you?
If it has no utility, do you click through anyway because they were thoughtful enough to run the ad? Or do you discard it as soon as you realize it doesn’t matter to you?
For most, the latter is always the case: if it doesn’t matter to you, it doesn’t matter.
Advertising works when it remembers who it’s for. When it speaks their language. When it understands their pains and challenges. When it offers to take those pains away only when trust exists, and no sooner.
Those ingredients aren’t about ‘hacking’ your ads or using the right ‘power words’. Rather, they’re about listening to those you wish to serve.
“They’re not opting into my web page, even though I’m using Google Analytics, heat maps and other tools like them.”
Even though you’re using the best practices.
Even though you tried the latest hot marketing software, and included all the widgets you could find. You even installed Google Tag Manager. Nothin’.
You may remember how easy these things were 15 years ago.
Popping up a simple HTML page with a crude PHP mailer form and a reasonably compelling offer and boom, customers.
We didn’t need pop ups and exit intents then. We didn’t need to use a specific piece of software to make things work. We didn’t need ‘the right funnel’ in place.
We still don’t.
These things become necessary in a noisy world when our strategy is to ‘be louder’. Attempting to out-muscle competitors only works when ‘the big money’ hasn’t moved in. What then?
There’s a better strategy.
Your web page isn’t about you.
Just like your ads, in fact.
People don’t visit your web page because of you.
Or because of how loud you’re capable of being.
In fact, a quiet voice that knows how to listen means far more to most of us than a loud selfish voice ever could.
Folks visit your website for different reasons than those that motivated its creation. You made it to sell things. They visited it because they’re hurting.
Your offer doesn’t matter. Nor does your product. Or your team photo, even if it includes the office dog. Pop ups don’t change that.
What changes the dynamic entirely is your ability to listen.
- If you tell their story instead of yours…
- If you empathize with their journey instead of yours…
- If you solve their problem instead of yours…
…then they win. And so do you.
These things have nothing to do with widgets and funnel hacks. They’re simply understandings born out of the discipline of listening.
“They’re not opening my emails, even though they’re using all the tricks I learned on the Internet.”
Email open rates have been falling since before you started using email.
Possibly since before you knew what email was.
Much like the world of Direct Mail, most of what you receive goes into the garbage before you even open it.
You don’t want more TV channels. Or another credit card. The ‘last chance to save’ on whatever it is that’s inside – you’ve no idea and you don’t care.
Everyone else experiences it, too.
This is why aren’t excited about your ‘15% Off Sale’. Even if it were a ‘80% Off Sale’, you’d be unlikely to experience the type of response you’d expect.
It’s not that your products stink. It’s not some new Gmail feature that’s causing you pain.
It’s not about you at all, in fact.
Your emails aren’t about you.
My inbox is my place.
Facebook is Facebook. Twitter is Twitter. My inbox is my inbox.
We’re no patience for selfish behavior in our place.
The reason we swipe ‘delete’ after reading the subject line is because we’re all expert spam-detectors.
We know that PayPal isn’t offering us a cash prize. Or that the Nigerian prince doesn’t have $1,000,000 to wire to our account. We smell nonsense from the first few words of a subject line and show no mercy to the traitors who come knocking.
Because they’re selfish.
Similarly, when we get a hand-written letter in the mail from a relative, we tell our significant others. It may tell us little more than what they had for lunch last week, or that the distant nephew you barely know won an award in school.
You still opened it, shared it, and kept it.
Because it wasn’t about them. It was about you.
If a message that tells you nothing of interest can pass the test if it’s about you, what then is possible for the business or individual caring enough to write an email you **do** want to read?
Knowing what that is remains simple: Listen to them.
In all areas of your marketing, listen.
Listening is the secret skill that separates good from great.
Listening is the superpower that enables you to be interesting.
Listening opens the storehouse of insights necessary to engage and empathize with an audience desperate to be listened to.
Are you listening?