Who are you anyway… interrupting my twitter feed or clogging up my inbox? You sound like a robot, blasting out all that meaningless jargon. Even worse, it’s all about you…

Sound familiar?

It’s what we experience as consumers every day, in our social feeds, in the shops, online, on the radio and in magazines.

As communications and social media expert, Tim Hughes, points out in the well-argued article linked below, consumers are still being subjected to 1950s style advertising and marketing tactics by far too many businesses. These tactics simply do not work today.  

What compounds things is that even though we know, personally and individually,  how we feel about this experience, we seem to forget this knowledge as soon as we go to work. And while there, we’re too often imposing that very same, out-dated and unimaginative experience on our own customers - yet somehow, we’ve managed to convince ourselves that, in our case, it’s ok.

Why would it be ok, when we don’t appreciate being on the receiving end of it ourselves?

So what does it take to turn this around and to develop a marketing strategy that is truly effective?

There are plenty of experts who will propose costly workshops, audits and/or new operational structures or practices to help answer this question. Huge tomes have been written on the topic. Many of them are impressive.  A few of them are in fact worth a read.

But, you don’t need to be a marketing expert to start answering this question. Far from it.

Just ask yourself what you love and hate about advertising and marketing when you’re at home or out and about.

Start there. As far away from your job and the place you work in as possible. Don't even think about the business you work in. Think only about what you encounter as a consumer.  

Take a look at what you’ve identified. 

What sticks in your mind – for both the wrong and the right reasons? 

When did you last look something up or buy it, as a result of marketing messaging? 

Where did you come across that messaging? What were you doing? 

How did you feel about discovering it in that place, at that time?

Keep a tally (it works even better if you don’t try and do this all in one go). Ask your friends and family too. Ask your colleagues at work. Collecting up views can offer even richer insights about what strikes the right – and the wrong – chord with consumers.

These are really insightful, simple questions that shouldn’t take long to answer.

The simple truth is that we don’t pay attention to much of the marketing and advertising that we come across. Despite substantial spend on reaching us as a consumer audience, we’re only very rarely stopped in our tracks or motivated to act as the marketers behind the messaging would have us act.

Now, compare what you concluded in the exercise with how your own business promotes itself.

If you’re on the right tracks, you’ll be identifying with and hitting all the memorable and motivating items listed on your tally.  

What else can you do?

Hughes makes some helpful observations in his linked article too. They shouldn’t come as any surprise. The fact that they still need to be said, however, is disappointing evidence of just how many of us are still getting our sales and marketing strategies and messages wrong.

Above all, make sure your messages strike the right chord with your customers. Recraft your brand and marketing strategy to demonstrate to your customers exactly why their world is better with you in it. Make it all about them, not you. Because by making it all about them, it will become all about you in the right,  properly attention-grabbing way.

All of which has a far better chance of making you noticed and keeping you front of mind when it comes to sales… and repeat sales.

One of my favourite examples of a brand who has really taken this to heart is Chatbooks. Though it’s a bit too long to be watched in full more than once, their brilliant, light-hearted advert about how their product simply fits into your world and improves it, couldn’t be clearer, simpler or (in my view) more engaging. And I remember it, time and again.

And most of it, is all about us – their target consumers - and our world. Making it perfectly easy to see why we their product fits with our circumstances and just how much of a difference it makes.

If you have kids, it’s worth a watch just to empathise and laugh!

 And if you have, or are responsible for, a brand, there are important lessons in Hughes’ article below.