Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Are your purchase decisions an accident?

I enjoy talking about online advertising. I enjoy it because we are currently at the bottom of the growth/progress curve with online advertising. Our actions today, as consumers and marketers, will determine the path this medium takes many years from now. I've talked about how, as marketers, we are too quick to shoot ourselves in the foot. How the temptation to focus on site statistics, rather than the growth or the health of your consumer base, only solves short-term problems.

Well it seems like these thoughts are on a few peoples minds. In the online space, it would appear there is a strong movement to re-examine online advertising. To build a framework that fits more with consumer expectations and works towards building a tightly knit customer base.

At the same time, we see strong examples of the present day reality. Poorly thought out Adword campaigns, Google Ads, and permission-less email marketing are alive and well. Our impulsive consumer nature continues to motivate un-targeted advertising tactics. When Chris Brogan can make over twice the revenue from a general ad versus a targeted recommendation, what would motivate others like Chris to do anything different?

It comes down to two things: the goal of consumer interest versus the goal of consumer leadership.

Consumers are notorious for impulse decision making. We can easily build campaigns around consumer impulse. We've done it for years with Point of Purchase materials, candy displays in grocery aisles, Instant Win telemarketing schemes, and (more recently) stand alone pay-per-click advertising. This trend shoots marketers in the foot and keeps consumers unfulfilled and skeptical about the products and services being marketed around them.

The alternative is that we lead our consumer base. That we provide consumers with the connections they need to make the best decision as a consumer of your brand. This type of thinking builds brand communities. It builds loyal fans of your brand that will resist impulse decisions and demand better from you and your competition. This type of thinking weeds out the companies that fail to listen. In the long-term, a market populated by this type of consumer will ultimately change the way marketers talk to consumers.