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Bob McCarthy, Content DirectorThu, Sep 16, 2021 10 min read

The New Golden Rule: Market To Others As You Would Be Marketed To

A Little Self-Awareness Goes A Long Way When Executing Campaigns

What is it about marketing that makes otherwise smart people lose their heads? Why does the desire for more leads and the hope of revenue growth blind people from seeing the world as normal, clear-thinking individuals with empathy and awareness?

We often tell business leaders to think only of their prospects when planning their marketing and sales campaigns. And for the most part, that’s sound advice. But there is someone else you should be giving some thought to: You.

If you’re looking for insight into what marketing tactics work, look in the mirror. Every one of us is marketed to endlessly. And some of it works. We all click on interesting ads. We all consume content to learn more about newly discovered services. We all buy new products that we didn’t know about yesterday.

Why? What triggers those actions? Having a little self-awareness of how you’re marketed to and which strategies work can help you run more successful campaigns.

Unfortunately, many businesses, and even a good number of professional marketers, don’t think this way. Rather than using their personal buying experiences to guide their efforts, they turn to tactics that they’d never respond to. And typically, it’s for no other reason than self-interest, the desire to capture more leads and fill the sales funnel.

Here are four examples of tactics that can benefit from less self-interest and more self-awareness.

Work Ads On Social Channels

Not long ago, I was watching a video on YouTube, one that had nothing to do with work, and was served up a job-related ad. It was eye-opening because it went against the typical B2B paid playbook that ignores all channels that aren’t Google search or LinkedIn. Common thinking states that those are the channels where people go for “business” information, and so that’s where they should be targeted.

But hold on. Is that really how you use digital channels? At 5 p.m., when you scroll Instagram, Facebook or YouTube (because there’s no way you’d do it during work hours), does your professional brain just shut off entirely? Are you suddenly a completely different person who has zero interest in that new software that can make your job easier?

Of course not. Just because it’s being shown to you on a channel that’s typically used for social connections does not make the ad any less interesting or effective. And chances are you’ve clicked on some of these ads or just read them (also a valuable action, by the way – clicks aren’t everything).

Speaking personally, social ads are some of the most effective marketing tools I encounter. I click on the good ones all the time and have discovered dozens of new products and services that I have become a customer of.

Bold Creative

Every business wants to stand out, and yet many don’t see the connection between strong creative and attracting attention. Even when they have an appreciation for strong creative, many draw the line at it being bold. It’s like they want to stand out, but in a way that also fits in nicely with what everyone else is doing.

But think about your own experience. What grabs your attention? What do you click? If you’re like me, it’s content with a great design and strong message that makes me stop and think, or better yet, feel. Our digital worlds are overcrowded with content, much of it created in the same safe, uninspired way that manages to look good without turning heads.

More than likely, great creative grabs your attention every day, so stop being afraid of being too bold. Embrace standout creative to help you stand out in the crowd

Gated Content

Everyone wants leads. But for the average person roaming the internet, there’s nothing more frustrating than clicking on content you’re interested in only to discover it’s gated. I get it, you want leads. But you’re losing out on opportunities by insisting people fill out forms after they click on your great ad or CTA.

I refuse to fill out a form for content. In the rare instance that I do fill out a form, I use an alternate email account. Sound familiar? Most of the people I talk to do the same thing.

There was a time when people filled out forms in exchange for content. But now? There’s so much content available that if you won’t give it to me, your competitor will. Is that what you want? I just want to learn about your product, and you’re putting a roadblock in my way.

Think about that for a moment.

By gating content, you’re preventing over 80% of the people who have shown an interest in your business (assuming you’re lucky enough to have a 20% conversion rate on a form) from getting the information that could turn them into a customer. I’ve yet to meet anyone who likes encountering gated content, so stop expecting your prospects to be the exception to the rule.

Cold Sales Pitches

You’ll notice I didn’t say cold emails. I actually don’t mind cold sales emails that are informative and educational and increase my awareness of a product or service I didn’t know about. But I don’t like cold pitches or sales sequences with the sole purpose of setting up a call. You know you get these emails, and you may even use them – two lines of copy about a product, then the hard press for a meeting.

If I’m being honest, I find these emails a bit handsy and, well, gross. Like George McFly in “Back To The Future,” they leave me wanting to scream, “Keep your damn hands off me!”

Be honest with yourself. Do you respond to those types of emails? Do you hit reply and immediately set up a meeting two minutes after learning about this product? Probably not. Nobody buys this way. Certainly not in person. Email, like so much of everything else in digital media, makes it easy to be incredibly forward and feel like you have nothing to lose.

But you do have something to lose – business. For every couple of buyers that set up a meeting (likely people who were already ready to buy), you’re turning off hundreds, if not thousands, of other prospects.

Interact with people the way you like to be sold to when you first meet someone. Introduce yourself and your product, then make yourself available to answer questions or provide further information. Be that salesperson in the store who comes over to say “hi” and answers any questions, but then tastefully says, “I’ll be right over there if you need anything” while you think things through or talk with your partner.

Be personable, not pushy. Be helpful, not handsy.

Create Marketing That’s Mutually Beneficial

For many, the term marketing has a negative connotation that’s tied to selfish tactics self-serving businesses use. Asking you to think of yourself when planning your marketing is not a call for even more self-interest. It’s a call for more empathy, awareness and understanding.

When done well, marketing and sales provide a mutually beneficial experience that enables businesses to educate people about their products and services and allows customers to make honest, informed decisions about purchases that can make a difference in their life. By putting yourself in the shoes of a buyer, and reflecting on what you like and don’t like, what works and what doesn’t work, you get closer to creating that experience and fulfilling both of those goals.

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Bob McCarthy, Content Director

Bob came to Square 2 with over a decade of writing experience. His writing career began on a whim with aspirations of following in the footsteps of the Lost Generation authors who struggled mightily while penning the great American novel. Succeeding at the former but failing at the latter, Bob traded his dreams for a degree and enrolled in graduate school, earning an M.A. in professional writing. He has a wealth of inbound writing experience, having previously produced content for higher education and e-commerce. Still a storyteller at heart, he seeks out a narrative in everything he writes.