The following article is republished with permission from Michael Brito:
Marketers: Stop Expecting Viral Content
As marketers, we have an expectation that our programs are successful. Parents expect their children to get good grades and turn into responsible adults. And, Browns Coach Mike Pettine has high expectations for first round draft pick Johnny Manziel.
There’s nothing wrong with having high expectations except when it becomes the pure focal point in your strategy. The NFL has had their fair share of first round quarterbacks that didn’t live up to expectations (Mark Sanchez, JaMarcus Russell, Vince Young, Matt Leinart to name a few) and those teams suffered losing seasons, many of them. Scrutiny and criticism followed. The reason for their failure is because they rested their entire success on one person.
In marketing, we have different expectations. We spend mass amounts of money hiring agencies, developing programs, launching campaigns in hopes for some type of positive outcome.
We expect clicks, conversions and page views. We long for more “likes”, comments, shares and retweets. We expect to grow our communities, increase share of voice and pray that our videos to “go viral.” And when our programs don’t perform to our expectations, we get disappointed. Maybe someone gets fired.
I believe that this is the wrong attitude to have. As marketers we need to shift the way we think about our customers. We must stop referring to them as a target audience, a segment or a page view; and consider that they are real people, with real emotions who are extremely influential.
We must learn to give without any expectation of receiving anything in return. It’s called reciprocal altruism and it’s about creating programs and content that add value to customers or help them solve a particular problem. Sometimes it’s as easy as just saying, “thank you”, maybe an @mention to a customer or maintaining a positive attitude when getting grilled online.
Certainly ROI and business value are important here and I am not saying that we must be scared of the “hard sell.” The great thing about content marketing is that you can move customers up, down and through the purchase funnel simply by providing content that matters – the right content, at the right time, in the right channel to the right customer; and not forgetting how paid, earned, shared and owned media work together across the eco-system.
It reminds me of a book that was written well over a decade ago and it was definitely pioneer thinking at that time. Seth Godin’s “Permission Marketing” was written on the premise of reciprocal altruism. He argued that marketers must build trust and credibility with their customers and then “ask them for permission” to market their services. Same concept today and even true for IRL relationships. It’s simply applying what we already know to be true as humans.
Michael Brito is a Group Director at WCG and also an Adjunct Professor at San Jose State University and UC Berkeley. He is the author of two books: Smart Business, Social Business and Your Brand: The Next Media Company. You can also find him on Twitter or Google+.