Working with companies lately, I keep coming back to the same starting point: marketing is about connecting with a customer and aligning with helping them win their story. Think about yourself when you’re buying something. There’s a challenge in front of you and you’re hoping that what you purchase will improve your life or business in some way. Now, think about how you market.
Marketing is About Connecting With Your Customer’s Story
I’m a big fan of the coffee tumblers that Yeti sells. Their site this morning had all kinds of winter stories (I wrote this in winter) about keeping food warm in their coolers, about bringing a a “ground blanket” (I didn’t know I needed this!) to lay out while out camping or hiking or hanging out. They had a big sturdy camp cup tha would make being outside in the cold so much more enjoyable (presumably full of hot coffee or a thick tomato soup). The products all align with the story: “If you’re going to be outside, we’ll make it more enjoyable and you’ll be the hero of your family.”
What’s different in business and marketing this year and beyond is that customers really want the brands they spend money on to connect with their values. That’s how Adidas sold over 2 million pairs of sneakers made from ocean waste. And this story relates to B2B as well as B2C. We want the companies we buy from to be “good” and to share our values.
But wait. How will a buyer know anything about this alignment?
Marketing Must Become a Shared Story Experience
“You’re over 50 and out here training for your first 5K race. We want to help you be ready and finish strong.”
“Your kid is interested in electronics. Here’s a behind the scenes look at how we build the Surface tablet,” and here’s a cool YouTube channel full of engineering videos and DIY projects.”
“Anyone can sell you some pens. We want to keep your small business running smarter by introducing you to the people whose brains you want to pick.”
Marketing can’t be about features and product descriptions alone. It must shift to telling your customer’s story. Not your product’s story. You have to empower the customer with what you sell.
Gone are the days where you could allocate a few dollars to ads, work with a graphics person for part of the morning, and call it good. You have to live and work a lot closer to your customers if you want them to invite you into the opportunity to serve them.
And there are SO many stories to tell, no matter what you sell. There are dozens of customer types who feel invisible, overlooked, and not important that you could gladly welcome into the world of whatever it is you sell. This is a golden opportunity, if only enough companies will dare to revisit how they’re trying to reach people and shift some of their methods, time and money towards really earning a better ongoing relationship with the people they hope to sell to and serve.
(That’s where I’m dedicating my efforts this year. I intend to help companies thrive by improving their connecting with their best possible customers.)
Are you with me on this one?