In case you haven’t heard, B Squared is hosting the first annual HELLO Conference on March 28, 2019.
Tickets are on sale until this Friday, March 22nd – so make sure to grab your spot if you haven’t done so already!
We’re super excited to be hosting the HELLO Conference – not just because it’s our first ever B Squared event, but because we have an incredible line-up of speakers, including our keynote, Mark Schaefer.
Mark is world renowned author, speaker, college-educator, and just an overall awesome guy. He’ll be discussing his latest book, Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins at the conference next week but was kind enough to sit down for a session of B2TV ahead of time. Mark dug into the current state of marketing and why it’s so important for brands to be human, even in our current world of digital transformation.
If you want to stock up on loads of marketing insight, check out our interview with Mark below!
B Squared: We are so excited because we have the amazing Mark Schaefer with us today and we get to talk about all things Marketing Rebellion. Also, you’ll be presenting on this topic, at Hello Conference on March 28th, so we’re super excited!
I want to I want to start by letting the cat out of the bag we haven’t announced this yet but, Mark has been kind enough to allow to include a copy of this book in every goodie bag at the conference, so everybody who is attending is getting a FREE copy of Marketing Rebellion, and you’ll get to listen to the master himself talk that day.
Mark, we don’t want to give away the book but you talk about the First, Second and Third Rebellion. And that we are currently in this Third rebellion.
In layman’s terms, if someone hasn’t read your book, or if they are a marketing or business leader, what are they seeing in this third rebellion, how would you explain it?
Defining “Marketing Rebellion”
Mark Schaefer: Well, what most businesses don’t understand, I think they sense it, but they haven’t really reacted to it, is that the customers are in control.
So every company has a PowerPoint slide somewhere with their sales funnel on it and the customer journey. And what the research sort of shows is, those days are over. The customer owns the sales funnel, the customer owns the customer journey.
And it’s funny, a few months ago, Google put out a series of white papers basically supporting what I had in the book and said, ‘even people who are searching for the same thing on Google have unique customer paths, a unique customer journey.’ So the idea that we can kind of put people in buckets and market to them in these buckets, it just doesn’t work that way anymore.
So a brand used to be what we tell people. And today a brand is what people tell each other. And this requires a new marketing mindset, a new approach, maybe even new skills to think about, how do we get invited to that conversation? We can’t buy our way in like we used to. Two thirds of our marketing is occurring without us and is taking place in the customer’s own sales funnel in these in these conversations. How do we embed our stories and our ideas in those conversations? And that’s what the book is about.
B Squared: I love it because it fits so nicely with our tagline, “Think Conversation Not Campaign”. I’m totally aligned with the book and with your thoughts and going off of your Google point.
On page 37 of the book it says, “Because Google co-founder Sergey Brin, said that the emerging boom in artificial intelligence is creating a Technology Renaissance that will drive rates of unprecedented change. The new spring in artificial intelligence is the most significant development in my lifetime. Every month they are sending new applications and transformative new techniques. Such powerful tools, bring with them new questions and responsibilities.
So this ties right into the HELLO Conference, which will be talking about intelligent tools. The rise of these tools, yes, but also, what I think is more important than the tools is how do you stay human? How do we use these tools to help us scale and grow and still keep the human as a part of the intelligence tools loop?
Very complicated question, but based on your research, and based on the book, what would your answer be for keeping that human in the intelligence tools loop?
Keeping Companies Human With the Rise of Intelligent Tools
Mark Schaefer: Well, I think that the the danger is that companies do what they always do. And they overuse technology, the over-rely on technology, they over automate. And instead of using technology to remove barriers between companies and their customers, they erect them. That is the danger. And so artificial intelligence I think will be amazing, if it’s invisible, if we can make our companies more responsive, more approachable, more human.
And Chris Penn, one of your other speakers, is featured in the book and talks about how AI can be used to make your company more human. My fear is that companies are just going to keep looking for that marketing ‘easy button’. And they’re trying to apply technology to solve problems they shouldn’t be solving with technology. And the way I sort of begin my book, and end my book, is that the most human company will win. And I believe that with all my heart, because at the end of the day, that’s what we’re screaming for. Just pay attention to us, acknowledge that I’m here, help me, stop selling, help me.
Help me make more money, save more money, have a happier life, have a healthier life, help me have more fun today, help me understand, help me belong, help me find meaning. That’s the new marketing.
It’s to connect to those constant human truths that have always been there. That’s hard to do that with emails, spam or robo calls, or direct mail. You know, the days of the marketing “easy button” are over. If we can use technology to connect in a meaningful way and meet those human needs we’ll win. If you don’t, and your competitor does. You’re done.
B Squared: Oh, I believe. For my presentation at the HELLO conference, I was doing research on whether consumers even want these intelligent tools to happen? And what I found is that 67%, which isn’t an overwhelming number, but 67% of consumers are willing to work with the tool. But 30 something percent said that they are concerned about the seamlessness. So essentially, what they’re asking for is at every touch point, if there’s a tool that’s going to help them get it done, fine. But at any point in that touch point, something goes wrong, or haywire are they want a human, and they want that human immediately, which is difficult to do.
Mark Schaefer: When you’re on call, and say “Operator! Operator!”
B Squared: I think it’s funny that you say that. We are testing a bot right now, and we make it very clear, it’s a bot. And if you want a human, we have keywords, kind of built into the bot and “operator” is one of those keywords, if somebody types operator, it goes into a Smart Inbox that a human manages, and then we immediately bring in a human. I think we look at it that way because this is what we do, and we have this mindset. But so many companies don’t have this mindset, they truly believe that they’re going to bring in the tools and cut costs maybe by letting some humans go and that the human doesn’t have to be involved. And that’s just not true.
Mark Schaefer: There’s a lot of obstacles, I think, for companies to really succeed in this new era. And that’s one of them. You gotta roll up your sleeves and you gotta go see people, you’ve gotta visit with your customers, you need to understand your customers. The role of the CMO is to understand your customer so well, that you can translate their needs to the entire organization. It is sort of the glue between the world and your company. And there’s just not that many marketing leaders that are acting that way today.
There’s a story in the book where one of my marketing heroes, Martin Lindstrom was giving a talk in front of 5000 people, 5000 marketing leaders in New York, and he said, “How many people have sat down and had a conversation with a customer in the last year?” and 19 people raised their hand. Out of 5000. And that’s one of the reasons why marketing is lost. It’s broken. And that’s why marketing isn’t human. Because we’ve got our heads in dashboards and our martech stack instead of talking to our customers, and understanding them.
B Squared: One of the things you said on page 59 of the book is that “Consumers are dismissing products, there’s no emotional connection.” And that really struck me because, wow, that’s a big job for marketers to do. I mean, not that we didn’t have that as one of our KPIs, or hopefully we had this one of our KPIs, but how do you make someone have an emotional connection to your product or services?
The Future of Marketing
Mark Schaefer: Well, I think this is a really key point that you’re bringing up because the first chapter of the book is sort of depressing.
Somebody interviewed me on a show like this and they opened up the book to the first chapter, and they had literally written in the margin “Oh shit!”
And then it’s a book of hope. It’s a book filled with ideas and filled with inspiration. And the key change, I think, is that we built our companies on advertising and public relations. And we built our companies and our great brands on advertising impressions.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t see ads that much anymore. I mean, I work really hard. And by the time it’s evening, Rebecca [my wife], and I kind of collapse on the couch and watch TV and we watch Netflix or Amazon Prime, you see no commercials.
I’m working on a big project in Atlanta, driving three hours there, three hours back, I’m listening to the radio the whole time. No commercials, I’m listening to Sirius XM, and listening to audio books and listening to Spotify. Zero commercials. I subscribe to digital versions of my favorite newspapers, no ads, maybe there’s ads of some kind but its invisible to me. One third of Americans have ad blockers on their smart devices.
So it’s not unusual for an individual’s advertising consumption to be down by 95% in the last five years. Now, people aren’t seeing ads. And if they see them, they don’t believe them. Who do they believe? People. We believe each other. So the brands of the past were built by advertising impressions, and the companies and the brands of the future are being built with human impressions. That’s how we build the emotional attachment.
Some brands like Geico, they can spend millions of dollars to turn their company to a cute Gecko. Geico isn’t a Gecko, it’s a bunch of accountants and statisticians, it’s an insurance company. But they’re seen as a human that’s warm and competent through this little character. But most companies can’t spend those millions of dollars and they can’t advertise as much. And Geico isn’t going to be able to do it either, long term, because we’re seeing less and less ads. So the only idea is we’ve got to build that emotional connection the way we’ve always done it. Through human relationships.
Where Does Social Media Fit In?
B Squared: You know, what gave me hope with kind of answering this ‘Oh, shit!’ moment. You said a few pages later that we need to focus on “consumer generated marketing”. So you talked about recommendations, conversations, even mentioned, social media marketing, social media posts. With all of the information that’s coming out what we’ve seen, even in our own company, a lot of these stats are going down with being seen and social media working. But what we have noticed, and Carrie can attest to this, when we do that behind the scenes, user generated content, when we bring this storytelling in and try to tell the story to garner some sort of emotion, we constantly see numbers go way beyond any of the the average reach you’ll get on XYZ.
Mark Schaefer: Social media still has a tremendous amount of potential because it’s been so overlooked and abused by brands.
You know what the cool thing about being old is, is that I can connect the dots. I mean, I was there at the beginning of the social media revolution. And companies tried to have conversations, but it was hard because it wasn’t legally approved, and it was inefficient. And so we replaced human voices with personas and automation and you’ll cut and paste and DMs and it’s soulless, and it’s gone. And think of the power if one of your favorite brands was on social media and one of the top executives from the company pops on Facebook Live and says, you know, I just want to tell you what’s going on here.
One of my favorite quotes in the book is from Dr. Philip Kotler, another one of my marketing heroes, and he said, “businesses are just missing it. They need to have a human voice, not a legally approved voice. What is a human voice? A human voice is emotional, and it’s approachable, and it’s believable.” And he said, “even vulnerable”, I can’t even think of a company that’s vulnerable. Maybe a few out there, sort of, they kind of admit their mistakes. But I mean, they’re just so far away, the gap is so immense, but that’s also an opportunity for somebody who’s going to figure this out, because they’re gonna read my book, they’re going to hear me at your conference, and they’re going to go, “yeah, there’s what we need to do!”
For the full interview with Mark and to learn more about Marketing Rebellion, check out our B2TV session!
What is your brand doing to stay human and connect with your audience? Let us know in the comments section below!
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Rachel is the Senior Account Manager at B Squared Media working with clients on content, copy, and all things social media strategy. As part of the B2 Crew, Rachel takes pride in working with an all-female, remote team, and loves the flexibility that comes when you can #workfromanywhere.