What is the biggest change you need make in your marketing? Embrace new media? Embrace social media? Switch spending from traditional media advertising to other options? Yes, most companies need to do those things, but these changes are secondary to the one really big change you should make, if you haven’t made it already.
The biggest change you need to make in your marketing is to abandon the mindset of “brute force” that has ruled marketing since the mid-20th century. Brute force is the belief that the key to winning customers is to interrupt them as frequently as possible with messages that are as powerful as possible. The brute force philosophy implies that customers are easily swayed, and they are eagerly waiting to receive your communications after which, lemming-like, they will change their behavior.
Listen in on most marketing planning meetings, and you will hear the religion of brute force being preached. “We need a more powerful message to cut through the clutter,” or “we’ll need to increase spending to reach our audience more effectively.” Sales people, also, have been sucked into the brute force vortex. They can be regularly be overheard talking about “getting at bats with a customer” or “giving a pitch.”
Guess what? The days of brute force are waning. The main reason: Customers are not as impressionable as they used to be. They don’t buy your product just because you interrupted them more effectively than another company. The second reason brute force doesn’t work well anymore: Unless you work for Annheuser-Busch or McDonald’s, you don’t have a big enough budget to shout louder than everyone else who is also shouting at your customers.
As Tom Peters once said, “Learning is easy, but unlearning is difficult.” Do your best to unlearn what you’ve been taught about brute force as a marketing strategy. Focus, instead, on what really works: Creating a powerful sense of brand harmony for your customers that helps them hear a clear, compelling story as they interact with your company. Brute force falls on deaf ears, but brand harmony is the first step to creating motivating brand impressions in the minds of your customers.