A funny thing happened a few months ago: a 61 year old German woman blew a telemarketer into the hospital with a small whistle. She was fed up with being cold called, and whistled loudly right down the telephone. She now has to pay a fine of 800 euro’s for the hearing damage at the telemarketer, but she refuses. Actually a very original thing to do, especially for people who don’t know that they can be registered so telemarketers won’t call them. People are sick and tired of us marketers. But there is hope.
That is what is called Marketing, interrupting people to get attention, or to quote Seth Godin: “I am a marketer, I have money. That gives me the power to interrupt you […] But people are getting better and better at ignoring you”. Actually pretty absurd when you think of it, that we marketers see it as a profession to harrass people. And that we are abhorred by all the ‘rights’ that people have nowadays to protect themselves from us. But nothing will stop us: we will skip around their infofilters, anti-cookies and do-not-call-me-registries, we’ll just start selling at the door again, just like in the old days. Or we will pay their friends to recommend our products, or tweet about it. Isn’t this behavior absurd? Or is it me? It feels obsessive, like the script of a slasher movie, “Here’s Johnny”. Nobody escapes.
A characteristic example of this absurdism is shown in an article about so called ‘ad-blockers’ (browser plugins that hide advertising banners in Google Chrome) and in which a marketer utters the unforgettable words that “consumers of course have a “moral right’ to install ad-blockers, but that these blockers are ‘businesswise not sustainable'”. We marketers want to harass people with our advertisements of course, and all attempt to block this are of course not ‘sustainable’. Duh?
“People shop and learn in a whole new way compared to just a few years ago, so marketers need to adopt or risk extinction”, Brian Halligen from Hubspot twittered recently. Yet still: if you follow all discussions in the marketing groups on LinkedIn, you will notice that still a lot of marketers want to take this risk at extinction: “Cold acquisition is still the best way to find new customers. People may feel harassed when you call them but in most cases you are bringing them money, arent you? 🙂 “. Notice the smiley at the end: dripping with contempt for the customer. And could you get away with this contempt in the previous century (click here for a nice docu about ‘sales boiler rooms’): we live in a transparant era now!
Why is it that we marketers so badly want to interrupt people? Why can’t we just leave them alone, and wait till they come and buy from us? Is it a scream for negative attention? In the last few weeks, I have been in discussions on LinkedIn with people that earn their money with ‘outbound marketing’, and at one moment it struck me: we get impatient if we are not pushing the buttons…Like jealous husbands, we want to know exactly where our customers are, what they are watching, and feel uncomfortable if we cannot find them. We cannot cope with the idea of anonymous people watching our content, we have to know who they are and call them five minutes after downloading our whitepaper (“I just saw that you”…). We cannot leave them alone, we need their money and fast.
A few weeks ago I ordered the long awaited book from Doc Searls about the ‘Intention Economy’. He had already written an impressive article (click here) on his theory in the Harvard Business Review (and I dragged him into a LinkedIn discussion about the subject, click here). In the article, he tells about the future ‘Intention Economy’, when the customer finally has all the power and “tracking customers like animals” no longer makes sense. Consumers ‘throw their intentions in the air’ and potential suppliers can catch them. For us marketers, this means an enormous turnaround in thinking, we will have to learn to be successful in another way… But the beauty of it is: the rest of the world will enjoy too, because we don’t have to bother them any longer.
“Selling starts the moment the customer said ‘no’. When people start ordering blindly, you will not need salesmen anymore“, someone said in a LinkedIn group. Actually a very typical remark, because ‘alas’ we live in a time that customers become more and more independent and mature in the buying process. Be honest: do you still listen to marketers or salesmen when you want to buy something? And what do you do when the commercials start on TV? Wait and listen? Apparantly, the world needs something different. And the whistle market will notice.
This post is the first chapter of the yet to be written book (click here) about ‘REAL Inbound Marketing’. All comments are welcome!