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06/26/2009 Stop Speaking Marketing!

Old.lady2 When I was a kid and we wanted to take a picture of my grandmother, she’d put on her “picture” face, which was rigid and unsmiling, instead of her normal, nice face. We’d laugh afterwards, because she’d always looked terrible in those pictures. We realized if we wanted a good picture of her, we’d have to sneak one.

Marketers have the same problem. Social media raises the stakes for marketers and makes it easier for people to sniff out, and turn off, when they sense a hard sell.

The marketers’ challenge is to stop speaking to people as if they were your consumers and targets, and to start speaking to people as if you liked them and had an interest in them.

I ran into a marketer yesterday who wanted some advice around social media. Personally, he was totally into an endurance sport, and he would travel around to watch and participate in those events. It turns out that his company was about to sponsor this endurance sport and had put together a special offering to promote the sponsorship. The marketer was totally psyched.

After telling me about this, with the excitement rising in his voice he wanted to know if he could tell people about this on social media. His suggestion?

Go on Facebook and Twitter and write: “Endurance sport special. Click here for sales.”

I stopped him immediately. “Say it on social media in the same way and passion you just told me,” I suggested. He had taken his excitement at telling another person and, instead, put on my grandmother’s picture face. He had stopped talking to me like a person and started talking to me like a sales number.

While I’m picking on this person, I see this a lot. Part of it is also a writing/talking breakdown. Here’s my suggestion:

If you write or talk marketing copy, try saying what you’re writing to another person. Now call someone you like and try saying the same thing. If you find that you’re talking to those people in ways you’d never normally talk to them, try again.

You can be conversational, convincing and selling at the same time. Especially if you’re talking about people have an interest in. On social media, it's too easy to tune out, so what you say, and how you say it, is important. It's important everywhere, it's just more apparent on social media.

So stop talking like a marketer and start talking like a human being.

[By the way, that's not  my grandmother]


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