A simple New Year’s resolution for marketers
Even though we are already into the swing of 2016, we believe it’s never too late to make a new resolution, especially when it will help us do our jobs better. (Side note: we shouldn’t need the excuse of a changing calendar to improve ourselves, but alas, here we are making resolutions with the rest of everyone.)
This resolution is simple, easy to keep, won’t make you sweat in uncomfortable places or cost you a penny. So listen up, fellow marketers and human people of the world!
Here it is: RE-HUMANISE YOUR AUDIENCE.
‘But how?’ you ask, intrigued.
A good place to start would be to stop saying these words in particular:
These words – when used in a marketing context – only generalise things that shouldn’t be generalised. Let’s go in more depth with each one.
This concept is an odd construct, implying that human beings exist only to buy your product or somehow change into a different mode when they think about buying something. It’s essentially a trick. It can make what follows it sound more believable, because it’s dressed as a “professional” statement. By dehumanising it, the nonsense can seem logical.
Let’s look at this example:
‘Our consumer is someone who isn’t in the premium segment but is prepared to pay for a mid-market product.’
Who do you know who would want a ‘mid-market product’? That’s what I thought.
Substitute in the word ‘people’ and see what happens to the sentence:
‘Our people aren’t in the premium segment but are prepared to pay for a mid-market product.’
Sounds much, much worse, and is frankly a load of horseshit. Your people don’t want mid-anything. They want the best that they can have.
This word has been so overused that it’s completely lost all meaning. Here are just a few of the many dictionary definitions of the word ‘hack’:
to cut or sever with repeated irregular or unskilful blows
to manage successfully
a short, dry cough
to gain access to a computer illegally
a usually creative solution to a computer hardware or programming problem or limitation
However, in this day and age, the word ‘hack’ (usually following the word ‘life’) has been tacked on to the titles of articles, videos, illustrated guides and blog posts to signify anything designed to be vaguely helpful, like this:
‘100 Life Hacks that Make Life Easier.’ (This is an actual article, by the way).
What does this even mean? Are these step-by-step instructions? Tips? General advice, Pinterest-style (~if s/he can’t handle you at your worst, s/he doesn’t deserve you at your best~)? How will your HUMAN audience find this useful or interesting?
This is the kind of article that ‘consumers’ read, not people. Let’s agree to stop creating them.
Again, this is such a broad term that it’s virtually meaningless. We’re always banging on about ‘creating great content,’ but WHAT DOES THAT ACTUALLY MEAN?
‘Content’ is for ‘consumers’, not human readers/listeners/viewers. In order to humanise this concept, we need to start defining what we make in specifics.
Instead of saying, ‘I need to make some good content this month,’ say exactly what you mean: ‘I need to create an awesome short animated video’ or ‘I need to write and record a satirical podcast’ or ‘I need to make an infographic using this data set.’
If you stop using the word ‘content’ to refer to anything you make, you will focus on the medium more, which will inherently remind you that you’re speaking to other people, which is the most important thing.
So, this year, if you resolve to do one thing, let it be this: stop saying ‘consumer,’ ‘hack,’ and ‘content,’ and start thinking in terms of actual people.