To Reach People On A Deeper Level, Lend An Ear And A Hand

I love how anthropologists shine lights into areas that need illuminating.

Cognitive anthropologist Bob Deutsch, writing in Fast Company presents a unique challenge for marketers today. He argues that brands can develop empathy with customers.

Marketers need to evolve from considering products as brands to considering “person-as-brand.” Nowadays every person wants to be its own brand—to perform, and to be liked, looked at, followed, and bought into.

…The quest for success in social media marketing—including content development, influencer strategies, real-time tweeting newsrooms, etc.—will continue to be inefficient, unpredictable, or just downright ineffective, until it shifts its focus from being in a conversation with consumers to entering people’s narratives of self.

Let’s linger on that last bit a moment. The need to “enter people’s narratives of self” reminds me what Colleen DeCourcy of Wieden + Kennedy said recently about Facebook as a platform. She said, “I love how much I can know about people I’m trying to do something for.”

The days of making up mass messaging for a nameless faceless audiences seems quaint at the moment. We’ve moved from a static, top-down, one-way broadcasting mechanism to new dynamic, participative and democratic forms of media. What this means for companies struggling to convey brand value is focus on dialogue. No one wants to be talked to by a friend or a co-worker, and the same holds for brands. People want to be noticed and made to feel good about themselves. By recognizing that people are telling themselves stories about who they are and what they care about, brands can begin to fit into this ongoing consumer narrative.

Let’s move from theory to a possible example of how this plays out in real life. When you’re active in social media, you share your many of interests with your friends and followers. All a brand needs to do (to enter a person’s existing narrative) is actively listen to the relevant conversations. Let’s say I feed Twitter and Facebook with content about an upcoming trip to Walla Walla for wine tasting. In an ideal world, my favorite restaurant in Walla Walla will be listening, and my favorite place to stay will be listening, and my favorite winery will be listening. Each has an opportunity to extend a personal invitation or perhaps a VIP-like offer. That’s relationship marketing at its best.


Someone who is listening on behalf of Whitehouse-Crawford (my favorite restaurant in Walla Walla) might inform me of tonight’s specials, or about a wine that I might want to consider. Doing so is utterly personal one-to-one marketing, and I would no doubt be impressed with this kind of positive outreach, not annoyed by it. A friendly Tweet or an email would be an acknowledgement of my interests and my own doings, as expressed in my latest social media updates.

If you’d like to discuss how Bonehook can help your company listen in on the conversations around your brand and the topics that are most important to your customers, drop us a line. We’d love to hear more.

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