Originally written for the excellent Valuable Content blog, when Sharon and Sonja posed the question:
‘What changed in 2016 and how should business respond now?’
2016 was the year of the loss of trust. Last year was a kind of awakening where we finally realised how badly we had lost trust in politics, in the media and in our social networks. It really was the first time that we saw how the online world of echo-chambers, filter bubbles and fake news affected our ‘real’ world, and we didn’t like it. 2016 confirmed people’s suspicions that the system is rigged and the messages we all send and consume are now controlled by malevolent forces beyond our control.
Marketing has always been about building trust, but how do we gain our audience’s confidence if there is now such distrust of both the message and the messenger? If your marketing is going to be truly effective in 2017 it must be truly trustworthy, and all the old rules about giving real value, in a truly personal way are vital now more than ever.
2017 What’s the big idea? I like the idea of ‘hand to hand marketing’ , meaning finding ways to reach your audience individually and as ‘in person’ as possible. People don’t want to hear from companies, they want to hear from the real people in those firms.
I think we’ll be asking our audience to meet us more in person, at events and social occasions, and we’ll see the rise of personalised newsletters and briefing materials from individuals not brands. Individual team-members will need to come to the fore, establish their individual voices and find their own individual channels to reach their individual audiences.
Getting teams outside the marketing department to tell their own stories to their own networks, often face to face, will be the only way brands (and B2B companies in particular) can bypass the bots and algorithms. Low key, relaxed and personal interactions will be far more effective than overt and centrally controlled campaigns.
The embodiment of trust is a handshake, so ‘hand to hand marketing’ means finding ways to talk honestly, usefully and personally. Mano a mano.