The Golden Rule: Communications Edition…for Vampires

Scott: Posted on Friday, July 27, 2012 11:16 AM

Today, marketers are struggling to communicate with consumers like never before.  Data suggests that consumers largely ignore advertising of any kind and react like a ticked off cobra when they get any sort of communication that they didn’t ask to receive.

We all just sort of accept direct mail = junk mail and almost automatically dump huge amounts of it into the trash can each day.

Social media is the new frontier of “how fast can we annoy our consumers while trying to be cool and hip” and I’m happy to say that marketing is right on schedule to make that medium uninhabitable in a few short years.  

We (the client) know we want to communicate to the consumer.  Our research has identified needs and we think we can solve some problems and sell our products if they would just pay attention for a second.  We have many ways to reach people and in typical “marketer” fashion, baby, we’re going to use it all.  TV, radio, print, Web, e-mail, direct mail, carrier pigeon and a can with two strings on it.  Our measurement reports will make us feel good that we put our message EVERYWHERE and we OWNED the media during our launch window.

Here’s what I think is missing in 90 percent of all marketing strategies.   Ask this question — how do we know the consumer wants to hear from us at all?  Have we earned it?  What is the relationship that we have with this consumer that makes it ok for us to message to them?

That’s the change social media brings to marketing and communications, folks.  You have to earn it now.  You can’t just mega-optimize your press release for social media and push your way into THEIR channels.  Like a vampire, (and you are) you have to be INVITED inside before you can ruin the party by eating all of the guests.

How do you get invited?  Be something useful, something entertaining, something non-salesy and dare I say RELEVANT to the consumer and you can earn your place.  It all starts with shifting your thinking from “how do I use my arsenal of marketing munitions to bombard the consumer” to “what is my brand’s relationship with this consumer” and then apply the golden rule.  Yes, that one.

“Market unto others as they would market unto you.”  If you don’t want junk mail — DON”t send it.  If you don’t want untargeted emails — DON’t send them and if you don’t want people to skip over your advertising, make it incredible and unskippable.  It can be done.

Use your human empathy as the first step in your marketing strategy and you will get something back far greater than impression metrics of how many people you blasted this week. You might get a solid relationship with the consumer that you can use for many years to come to keep your company in business.  Think about it.

I’d love to know what you think.  Please post comments below or e-mail me at