In March of 2020, Gartner’s ‘Manage Marketing in Uncertain Times’ study found that 66 percent of people agree businesses should take a key role in solving issues in society and culture. And 57 percent of people prefer to buy from companies with whom they have a personal connection or relationship. With high expectations being placed on the businesses and brands people interact with, are companies doing what they can to meet the challenge? Is marketing playing the role it can in developing personal connections and enduring relationships?
Let’s face it, Marketing as an industry has not kept pace with society and culture. It is a reactive and insular craft that is often looked at as an expense vs. a builder of long-term relationships. The current generation of marketers have found themselves in a time where they can’t escape the call for leadership and honesty from the people they serve on behalf of their brands. They need to be aware of what is going on around them and respond accordingly. It’s time to embrace and practice Conscious Marketing. Be relevant, have a purpose, and remember the words you use matter. Sounds kind of like the building blocks to an enduring relationship, right!?
People don’t view themselves as “targets” or “prospects” and they certainly don’t view themselves as being in a “funnel.” They approach experiences today demanding control of the environment and expecting ease of use. It should come as no surprise that 90 percent of people find communications from brands that are not personally relevant to them bothersome (Infogroup, 2019). In fact, 4 in 10 millennials say the most important thing a brand can do is ensure advertisements are relevant to their interests (Infogroup, 2019). So that means don’t message me with an ad for a product I already purchased, or product I will never buy, and but instead make an attempt to provide context in the forms of communication you take.
As mentioned above, people are expecting businesses to take the lead in solving the challenges facing society. We are witnessing brands committing to support communities suffering from COVID-19 and contributing to the fight to end police brutality and systemic racism. There are also a number of DTC brands that have taken up the mantle of sustainability – think clothes made from bottles or profits that save the oceans. While these are higher order purposes that resonate with many people, there are smaller steps that brands can take that are both genuine and demonstrate their commitment to the people they serve. It starts with acknowledging your customers or constituents as people. Instead of sending an email to your customer saying you’re standing with them, look at what you can do to make change happen – or ask them how you can help.
If we’re being relevant and purposeful, then the words we use matter. The words we use can give people joy or cause pain. I previously eluded to marketing terms that don’t recognize the people we are communicating with as people. If we did, would we be “profiling” them? It is time for marketers to awake to the fact that the words we use carry meaning. In this era of Conscious Marketing, we must recognize that some of the words we use are received by people as microaggressions. In order to ensure that our communications are authentic and honest, we need to reconsider the terms we use in our everyday. In 2019, our team at Kinesso and Matterkind made a decision to move away from the terms “whitelist ” and “blacklist” and we now refer to site lists as “allow” and “block” lists. While our actions signify our intentions, so do the words we use.
Conscious Marketing can truly modernize marketing. But there’s much more we must do to make it happen:
1. We must take a thorough look at the partners we work with to ensure their values align with our employees’ values, as well as those of the people we serve;
2. We must educate tomorrow’s marketers on how they should approach their craft with a deeper appreciation for the people they are reaching; and
3. We must be champions of diversity, as Omar Johnson wrote in The New York Times (June 14, 2020), “Inside your company walls, you need to hire more Black people. Period.”
Taking these critical measures are guaranteed to lead to a successful practice of Conscious Marketing that is relevant, purposeful, and mindful of the words we choose to use. Now is the time for leadership and action, therefore, focusing on doing right by people enables us to deliver real results and inspire considerable impact.