Advertising messages inundate us in print, broadcast and online. According to a recent study by Razorfish, the average person experiences “5,000 brand messages a day and [most of us] don’t have the time or energy to care about most of them.”
All these banners, jingles, newspaper inserts and videos blast their way into every conceivable nook and cranny of media space, making it impossible for consumers to avoid. We’ve reached a saturation point in traditional advertising, and most of us will do whatever we can to get far, far away from the omnipresent marketer’s voice ringing in our ears.
People are busy working, living and just trying to keep up. While some ads offer a 30-to-60-second humorous escape from the daily grind, many messages simply pander the offer of the day…or more likely the offer of the minute soon to be replaced by the next minute’s deal from a competitor.
Become Useful to Your Shoppers
In this oversaturated environment, people place value on “brands that are useful over brands that are interesting;” however, everyone defines usefulness differently. A young father at home with 3 kids may need an easy way to make a chore chart while a 22-year-old young woman just out of college may seek inexpensive ideas for creating a great nail art look.
Usefulness Leads to Brand Loyalty
Loyalty programs provide a basic level of utility (in the form of monetary or other compensation for time spent with a brand,) and some services have emerged such as Jingit, Snap and iBotta) that pay actual cash when shoppers give their attention to brand messaging or purchase a product. These companies understand that “consumers are now aware of how much their attention is worth to marketers, and they expect to be rewarded for it.”
Directly paying for a consumer’s attention is a special kind of honesty not long seen in advertising, but it does little to engender true loyalty between shoppers and brands. Modern life is complicated and we seek things to make it less so. When brands provide interesting content and useful tools to help solve our problems, we are more likely to purchase products from those brands on their next trip to the store.
- Can still talk about their product but do so within the context of meal inspirations, party plans, how-to guides and engaging new ways to connect with their friends and family. In this spirit, Home Depot creates and curates DIY how-to guides for its customers.
- Know they can’t be the only ones talking about their products. Bloggers, Instagrammers, YouTubers and Viners advocate for their favorite brands because in an authentic way (even when compensated by the brand.) A social influencer who shills for brands only because they get paid are not useful and will soon lose their audience. A blogger with no audience is a blogger with no influence. Coca-Cola leveraged a group of influencers to extend their highly successful 2014 Share-A-Coke program into the Walmart retail channel with the #ShareItForward variant.
- Create content that flows to where people want to find it. A story may start on a brand web site or a blog post, but engaged shoppers will share the images and videos from that story (when deemed useful enough) to friends and family across the social web. Whole Foods Market provide meal and decor inspiration to its customers across a number of followed accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
In this brave new world, brands must talk about things other than price and features with their shoppers, and social media is the best avenue for these conversations. We have entered the era of the useful brand. Useless brands today will quickly become the irrelevant brands of tomorrow.