October 11, 2014 Aaron Carpenter

What Marketing Online Gets Wrong – And How You Can Do Better

Marketing Online Gets It All Wrong

The internet is filled with pop-ups, auto-playing videos, and more.  All interruptive.  All to disrupt your experience so you can be forced to watch the experience that a company paid 10k for a 30 second spot of your time.

It’s annoying.  You and I both have experienced this.  It’s rarely an occasion where we are delighted to watch, click, sign up, or otherwise engage online.

Current marketing methods get it all wrong.

We get asked to develop websites with pop-ups, auto-playing videos, and other interruptive experiences.  We always have the same response.

Us to the client: “Do you like it when you’re visiting a website to find an answer to something and a pop up jumps in front of your experience?”

“No”

“Are you sure you want to do that on your site?”

Thankfully, we’re able to steer most of our clients away from poor user experience practices by asking them to empathize with end users.  That triggered an idea.  Start from an assumption that nobody cares about what you do, then try to market it.  The results are fascinating.

Nobody Cares

Start by operating under the assumption that nobody cares. Nobody is interested in your product, service, expertise, or opinion.

“Sure they are! My [insert whatever you do here] is awesome!  Everyone that I’ve done business with loves it.”

No they’re not.  No they don’t.  You’re missing the big picture.  People are slogging through demands for their attention.  Hardly anything gets the attention it truly needs or deserves unless the person is a savant at time management.

What they WILL appreciate from you is when you entertain them or help them with real problems, without asking for anything in return.  Save them some time and give some value up front and watch how they respond. They will want to be delighted to spend their precious time with you and your idea.

True, you can come up with unhelpful listicles “The TOP 10 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOUR GIRLFRIEND WAS THINKING AT NIGHT”.  Straight up click bait.  And it’ll probably work.  But at the end of it the user will feel judgmental of the article, and feel like they didn’t accomplish anything, and those feelings will be associated with you and your brand.

It feels like common sense when you take this idea and apply it to yourself. Let’s say some company came out with a new pair of shoes. They drop a video in front of your web browsing experience, or insert themselves in front of that YouTube video that you want to watch and FORCE you to sit there for 30 seconds while they talk about how awesome their shoe is.

Who cares. I came for a video about cats. I don’t want to watch you, your shoes, or hear your voice. GIVE. ME. MY. CAT. VIDEO.

It’s interruptive marketing like this, that doesn’t start with the assumption that nobody cares, that creates terrible experiences for everyone subjected to that type of marketing.

 

What Does This Apply To / Why is This Important?

Everything.  Your website.  Your videos.  Your print ads, radio commercials, you name it.

Why is this important?   When you operate from the assumption that no one cares about what you’re doing, you remove that from the equation and you’re still left with the question, how do I get people who aren’t interested in my product or service to take notice and become believers.

You’re forced to empathize.  There is no other way.

You have to sit down and examine what the people you’re going to be communicating with are like. What are they interested in?  What motivates them?  What are their goals?  What do they find to be painful.

You can now talk to them through your advertising (which is hopefully non-interruptive) on these points and really start connecting with your audience.

Legendary Lion Web Design focuses on a business coaching approach as projects are developed.  We strive to make believers out of the audiences our client’s are doing business with.

By taking nothing for granted, you open yourself up to form strategies to connect with the hardest people to convert to your product or service.  It forces you to stretch and reach, and come up with really great ideas to connect.

 

Non Interruptive, Value Up Front

So, here’s the sweet spot.  Once you’ve developed some ideas and strategies to convert these non-believers, imagine what people who were already more inclined to use your service will think when they see the messages, graphics, and stories you came up with to connect on a real level with your audience (based off of the assumption that nobody cared yet).

They’ll be even more impressed that you’re not riding the wave of your success at all, but still operating from a place where you don’t take for granted that your product or service sells itself.

You’re not interested in that.  You’re not hung up on yourself or what you do.  You’re interested in the client and how their life can change.

You’re interested in connecting with your audience based on what they need, fear, love, admire, etc.  And you’d doing it in the context of your service in a value-up-front way.

This typically comes in the form of offering blog articles that your audience would find particularly helpful, without asking for anything in return.  No call to action for buying a service, downloading a thingy, signing up for a mail list (you get the idea).  Offer something of value up front, ask for nothing in return.

How awesome is that?

When is the last time that a business gave you something that you needed, when you needed it, for free, without asking for anything in return?  If that were to happen the next time you got your oil changed, for instance, wouldn’t you feel inclined to return to that same place the next time you got your oil changed?  Wouldn’t they be the first thing that came to mind when you glanced up at that sticker in the corner of your window?

Be that business.  Be that way online with your website.  Start from the assumption that nobody cares.  Empathize with the people you plan to do business with, put yourself in their shoes and ask why you should care.  Create stories, value, and credibility around that environment in the context of what you do.  Then watch as your “customers” become “believers” and feel comfortable referring their circles to you.

The Results

Websites that adhere to this type of practice also practice “inbound marketing”.  SEO MOZ, a leading SEO software provider and researcher, provides this dichotomy of interruptive vs. inbound marketing.  As you look through the graphic and identify practices that you like, and ones that you don’t.  Think about your ability to filter out annoying advertising, and ask yourself:

“What side of this curve is my business on?”

 

interruptive-vs-inbound

 

Start with operating from the assumption that no one cares, offer value up front in a non-interruptive way, and watch as your client-base grows and you turn believers out of the most cynical that you can possibly reach and everyone else short of that falls in line.

About the Author

Aaron Carpenter My name is Aaron Carpenter and I've been building web applications since 2002. Helping shape internet experiences for people to best match what their users are looking for, and creating web applications that become online tools to help manage businesses is what I love to do most.

View all posts by Aaron Carpenter

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