Spies Like Me | The Importance of Being Known in Marketing

My name is Stalnaker. Phil Stalnaker. Being as I have written a fictional short story before that was about a private detective, I feel overly qualified to write about being a spy. Not sure you believe me? Just ask Chuck Bartowski. That’s right. You don’t know how to find him…because he’s a spy too. You may try telling me that Chuck himself is a purely fictional character created by Chris Fedak and enjoyed five wonderful, spy filled years on television. That’s just what the government wants you to think. He is real. And so am I.

Ok, so in the spy since I am not real (word is still out on Chuck, though). While I admit that I have a penchant for vodka martinis (you know the rest), I do not live in the world of international espionage. Here’s why: the very things that make me successful in marketing make it impossible for me to be a spy. Simply put, I am too known. While I am positive the comment section will be filled with jokes about me for that line, the statement still holds true.

Even as far back as 2004, Gallup was publishing the importance of a truly relational, or emotional, connection with consumers. “Recent Gallup research has shown that the process of forming emotional connections doesn’t begin when consumers try the brand. Instead, emotional connections start to take shape with every brand encounter that leads up to trial.”1 This concept has become especially prevalent with the growth of social media, as it provides companies and brands the opportunity to be known on a personal level with their customers – or at least that is what the customers believe. Basically, if they don’t know you, they can’t like you. If they don’t like you, they can’t trust you. If they can’t trust you, they won’t buy from you. This has become as true for Nike today as it always has for the corner coffee shop. Your customers must know you.

This creates a problem. The idea of getting to know a person does not allow for pieces of the story to be missing; knowledge and trust are built on complete information. “If you try to fake who you are, it will show and it will work against you.”2 That’s not cool. That means gone are the days of polished, shiny, mistake-free commercials. When potential customers see your advertisement (whether it be in a magazine, direct mail piece, television commercial, online ad, or networking event) they must see an accurate portrait of you. “What they see in your marketing is ultimately what they get from your goods and services and that builds trust and rapport.”3 If their experience is inconsistent with the message they were presented, you could be in a heap of trouble, and this is where social media can really hurt. If one customer isn’t happy, they now have a mouthpiece to the entire world through their connections. Negative reviews will fly through cyberspace faster than the rage virus infected the whole of London.4

This is why a good marketer cannot be a spy (and vice versa). No matter how nice and good intentioned Austin Millbarge was, he still had to lie. A spy has to lie. A marketer, and entire company culture on that end, cannot. There will be no opportunity for redemption after filing bankruptcy. Thankfully, Jason Bourne figured it out before it was too late. Your company may be completely honest and forthright, giving your customers the ability to put their trust in you. If that’s the case, it is because your company has allowed itself to live in a glass hut and be seen in the true light of how it really is. Maybe, as a marketer (either personally or professionally), you are as well. Maybe not. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap. If you are open and honest with who you are, there is no need to withhold information. Transparency buys trust. Trust buys customers.

That is, unless you really are on a secret mission to stop SPECTRE’s plans for world domination by destroying the value of gold. Hopefully, your headquarters is not in Burbank.

(Image used from DeviantArt)

1 http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/11209/building-a-brand-relationship.aspx
2 http://fullbleedartsmarketing.com/honesty-value-1-of-a-winning-personal-brand
3 http://www.gmarketingcoach.com
4 http://www.foxsearchlight.com/28dayslater/

The Birds or Giant Eagles? | Social Media’s Prevalence in Business

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore –

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door –

“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door –

Only this and nothing more.” 1

I doubt I’m the first person to make a reference to Twitter being The Raven from Edgar Allen Poe. While I could draw many similarities to the constant updating and blast of a normal users feed, that is not the point of this article. Twitter was not the first, nor is it the most pervasive. It is just one of the many…which is the point.

I have a hard time not finding this amusing. We are literally bombarded by social media in our daily lives; Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram are only a small few. If I chose to write up the name of every outlet I would run out of digital paper. The second largest search engine in the world is YouTube after all – a social media video site! 2 The question is no longer “Do we accept social media into our lives?”, but how do we keep it under control so that we can manage its use in our lives and business while not letting it control us.   As a business professional, I have spent a lot of my time out in the community attending events, seminars, trade shows, etc… Social media is by far the most prevalent thought, most discussed topic, and most misunderstood tool in the business realm. Everybody wants to hear speeches when the topic is social media; everyone wants help figuring out how to incorporate it into their business. But is it worth it?

I think we’re in real trouble. I don’t know how this started or why, but I know it’s here and we’d be crazy to ignore it… The bird war, the bird attack, plague – call it what you like. They’re amassing out there someplace and they’ll be back. You can count on it…3

People start and run businesses to make money. We are told by everyone that every business has to be on social media because everyone is on social media. GM stopped using paid Facebook ads in May because they weren’t generating the desired revenue,4 but that’s just one example. We also know that social media drives a lot of revenue across the board. “Social media has a bigger influence in decision-making and is now considered as the new (and probably more effective) word of mouth channel,” general manager, Sam Shetty says. “Netregistry, which helps businesses get online, says businesses operating in the fashion and baby products sector have seen a better response compared to B2B providers. Return on investment should not only be measured on revenue, but also in brand recognition and popularity,” Shetty says.5 Shetty’s vision of social media is reminiscent of Frodo’s while being carried out of Mordor by the Giant Eagles.

Why are they doing this? Why are they doing this? They said when you got here, the whole thing started. Who are you? What are you? Where did you come from? I think you’re the cause of all this.3

This is where the hair on my neck stands up. Should return on investment (ROI) be measured in more than revenue? I am pretty sure most people did not get into business to generate good will and feeling. While many people work for that, it is all because they are means to a profitable end. While there are many things that lead to higher revenues, such as good will, popularity and brand recognition, those are means, not ends. Measuring ROI based on subjective content will not fly in a standard business plan (or a business loan, especially in these days). Hard numbers are what count.

This leads me to the crux of my point. The most useful thing about online marketing, whether it be websites, SEO, or social media to name a few, is that anything done online is easily track-able and measurable. How many people saw your ad? Easy. How many people clicked on your ad? Easy. How many people bought because of your ad? Easy. How much revenue did that generate? Easy.

Traditional marketing (rightly so) has been slammed for years because the nature of it makes it much harder to track and calculate a detailed ROI. Thus marketing over time developed the reputation of being the part of the business that is just a necessary expense. Now, because the business world is experiencing its infatuation with social media, it has apparently relaxed its standards of measurement. This is not right. Social media is and can be a great tool for your business, but it must be treated like all the other tools in your belt. Measure it. Test it. Figure out how much time and expense actually leads to a profitable ROI and then stick to it. I know too many people that spend all day playing on social media, call it a job, and end up flipping burgers on the side.

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted – nevermore!1

(Image courtesy of Elisa Vegliante)

1 http://www.shmoop.com/the-raven/poem-text.html

2 http://www.melaclaro.com/2010/10/05/youtube-the-second-largest-search-engine-so-what/

3 http://www.finestquotes.com/movie_quotes/movie/The%20Birds/page/0.htm#ixzz24OW5Ob1k

4 http://money.cnn.com/2012/05/15/autos/gm_facebook/index.htm

5 http://www.smartcompany.com.au/internet/051372-is-social-media-advertising-really-worth-the-time-and-money.html