Long term thinking and the power of utility marketing…

Newsflash to marketers – consumers don’t care about you, your brand, or your sales pitch advertising.

OK, so that’s slightly over stretching things, but undoubtedly, there’s some truth to it. We’re living in an era when there’s never been more attention span fragmentation and cynicism about brands.

According to the Havas Meaningful Brands Index:

Meaningful Brands

That’s a stark and slightly unnerving statistic if you work in marketing.

But the good news is, it’s pretty clear what you need to do to create meaning.

Brands need to stop presuming they’re actually relevant. Stop interrupting people with ‘shouty’ advertising messages.

And most importantly, focus on pull not push marketing.

That’s a mantra that many have been using for a few years. Yet it still doesn’t seem to have sunk in.

Three ways to act

There are only three relevant ways to act in marketing these days as far as I’m concerned.

Either enlighten me as a consumer, entertain me, or give me something useful.

Of course, the sales tactics need to be a key consideration, but at the higher level of brand marketing, people value brands which understand them and make their lives better in some way.

That’s the purpose of content marketing – create something interesting or useful that will make people want to interact with your brand – and this premise is also creeping into ‘above the line too’.

‘Branded utility’

I’ve written before on numerous occasions about the power of ‘utility marketing’ and its increasing prevalence in the marketing handbook. The idea is simple: giving people want they want and gradually building trust is a far more effective way to market.

Though I generally steer clear of American marketing ‘evangelists’, Jay Baer’s book ‘Youtility‘ sums up the scenario well – ‘It’s marketing so useful, people would pay for it. It’s marketing with so much intrinsic and inherent value that people actually WANT to be exposed to it.’

Melissa Parrish of Forrester has another apt reference, she calls utility marketing ‘the opportunity is to demonstrate your brand promise — not just talk about it — by creating programs that are visibly and functionally useful from your customers’ point of view.

It’s billboards that create clean water, it’s Nike creating urban football pitches, it’s IBM improving city life in a small way with smart furniture.

It’s brands going beyond mere demand generation, and actually influencing people’s lives.

Thinking towards the long term and being useful isn’t an easy thing to do for an organisation. It requires the perceived risk of the lack of discernable immediate results that can cause a marketer to sweat in this time of short termism. It requires a cultural change to your company’s DNA really.

But trust me, it’s the only way to act to avoid irrelevancy.

4 great examples of branded utility

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