Whether you are launching a new product or service, or developing your brand with a worthwhile story, there are ways to rise above the noise so that your target audience can actually see and hear you. Gaining their attention, of course, is not enough. Once you have their attention, you have to persuade them. When it comes to the power of persuasion, it's important to make something acutely clear: Your job is not to directly persuade anyone of anything. Persuasion has little to do with your ability to convince someone of something. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to give people just enough information on your product or idea that they will persuade themselves. When Southwest gabs about Transfarency, you think, "Finally. Yes. That's for me. At last, an airline that gets me." When you think about LinkedIn, you probably don't think social media network. Instead, this thought might cross your mind: "Here's where I can stalk the fine citizens of the business world" (in a nice way, of course).
Persuasion gets a bad rap
If it's done right, persuasion doesn't have to be manipulation. It's not a used car salesman trying to get you into a 2010 Dodge Durango. Persuasion is stating your case by showing more than telling. Walking the walk tops talking the talk. Persuasion is all the stuff you do that, when it comes together, helps others arrive at their own conclusions as to why this must-have product or idea fits wonderfully into their lives. Persuasion performed perfectly doesn't convince people to do something. People convince themselves. Consumers connect their own dots.
You nudge, they judge
But the rules of the game have changed quite a bit since social media arrived. Today, the brands that are winning get that persuading isn't something a brand does on its own. It's something a person's network of coworkers, friends and family do. They hear about that crazed Pokemon app not from a print ad but from their morning barista at Starbucks or in a sideline conversation with that soccer dad whose name they should know by now. A Nielsen poll of 25,000 internet consumers showed that 90 percent of respondents "completely" or "somewhat" trust recommendations from friends or acquaintances---much higher than those who trust newspaper ads (59 percent) or online banners (33 percent). Even with this knowledge, many marketers still choose to play by the old rules of the marketing game. They don't realize they are not only not persuading, but rather they are actually dissuading their audience. As an unintentional dissuader, you are spending your company's hard-earned dollars to contribute to this careless but stoppable act. Every day, thousands of brands think they are doing the right thing. Unbeknownst to many, they are just adding to the marketing junkyard.
Bad advertising is a nuisance
You are only as good as the message you create. Once you've crafted your message, the game quickly turns to advocacy. Your job is to implement a story that gets influential advocates to buy in and share your message with their networks, like a rock skipping across a pond. When it comes to nailing down an advocate-worthy story, the content must be:
- Authentic: Original content continues to be difficult for companies to execute. It shouldn't be! The resources at your disposal are endless. Shift your thinking away from the traditional, and consider yourself as a media conglomerate. Look to make original content like documentaries, live experiential events, or digital games. You could even start charity foundations, create password-protected online music concerts, or incubate an on-brand web series. If people call your marketing "marketing," you probably missed the mark.
- Aspirational: Ideas that make their way to the front of the line compel us to participate. Those ideas usually stand for something. They are not trying to be all things to all people. Aspirational ideas are purposeful ideas. They captivate and attract us.
- Amazing: It's not easy to amaze. Something is considered amazing because it is new and has never been done before. When you see something that is amazing, you want to be the first to share that magic with your friends or family so they will be amazed, too. Ultimately, when you amaze, you persuade. When you successfully persuade, you have created an advocate.
The best advertising is no longer recognized as advertising. It's now called content. With so many accessible media vehicles, you don't have to tell your story all at once. You can craft cliffhangers and leave clues all over the internet that point the story to different locations, micro-sites, and channels. Advertising is alive and well; it just looks a lot different than it used to.