Marketing’s Reckoning

This has been happening without your knowledge or permission.
Your information is for sale.
You have become the product.

Scary, right? Guess who said it? Apple. And no surprise it’s Apple putting its technology where its mouth is the latest version of the iOS (14.5) which now REQUIRES all app developers to ask users if they can “track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites.” When you opt-out, you will see fewer personalized ads because they’ve stopped spying on you. It’s a big victory.  

I’ve said for years that a reckoning in digital marketing is coming and it’s starting right with Apple. Other big tech companies including Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter have announced some of their own data sharing changes (with advertisers) as EVERYONE tries desperately to get privacy right…after they’ve gotten it SO wrong for so many years.

Here’s the thing, folks. Most people don’t like marketing. They don’t want marketing.  They wish our entire profession full of unwanted, interrupting e-mails, calls, texts and social posts would sink back into the fiery depths of Hell from which it came. They don’t want to be re-targeted with ads on websites, don’t want to see offers and sponsored posts while they are busy looking in the mirror at themselves on social networks. And they can do without ads interrupting them from watching videos that they have to skip or endless text messages they have to text back STOP to finish off.  

In short, they’re done with marketing.

And the new world looks something like this. Customers can browse anonymously on any of their devices and anyone (developer, tech company, SaaS company, any company) who gets caught illegally grabbing their data and using it without permission gets to answer to….(oh yeah), the government. You see, the government wants money (fines) and big tech companies have LOTS of money and not much of an ethical compass (obviously). So they make a perfect target.  

And we’re talking state AND federal government here. Plus, internationally (worldwide web and all) you’re talking about answering to many countries with differing views of what should be private and what should not. For a while, it’s going to be a big mess.

So what are we going to do about it?

First of all, our entire definition of marketing must change. We must become more heart-centered about it, starting with empathy for our audiences and creating fantastic content that COULD lead to a sale and the deepening of that relationship. Notice I didn’t say funnel. I hate that word. The idea that we would begin something so important as a marketing relationship with the notion that we don’t care about 90 percent of the people we’re bugging absolutely nauseates me.  

Second, we need to shift from interruption-based marketing to attraction-based. You don’t like to be interrupted—and neither do your customers. There’s a twinge of “I hate you now” every single time you do it. So don’t. Attract them to you and build your tribe that way. My method really works and you can keep people riding along with you for MUCH longer if you trust and respect them to buy when THEY are damn good and ready.  

Finally, we HAVE to take data privacy much more seriously. Marketing automation software, spying on people’s private conversations, re-targeting with digital ads are ALL tactics that are rolling the dice re: privacy. Maybe it works out for your relationship, but MAYBE it ends it….forever. Communications is dangerous for that reason. You are always exactly one click away from a dead relationship…so CHOOSE wisely.

Personally, I think it’s time for marketing to re-examine what we can and should be in this world. People still want things, people have problems and needs—and marketing CAN be a way to connect those needs to great products, services and brands. But it must be done from the heart, not the funnel, in order for this great profession to survive!