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While this article by Katya Andresen was directed toward toward marketing in the non-profit sector, these are three very applicable truths for marketing in today’s communication overload environment.

1. People don’t trust marketers. They trust each other.
Only 6% of people say they believe marketer’s claims, according to Forrester. I’m not sure who those last true believers are, but if you find them, send them an appeal saying you can save the world for $100.
So whom do we trust? Each other. Nielsen says 90% of consumers trust recommendations from acquaintances. So what does this mean to you? It’s not enough for you to say your cause is worthy. Your credibility only goes so far. You need someone else to say your cause is worthy – especially online, where people are accustomed to looking to third parties to decide which actions to take. Feature ratings from charity watchdogs, quotes from community leaders, stories from beneficiaries of your programs and the endorsement of your biggest supporters. People are more likely to believe them than you.

2. Spray and pray marketing fails. Personal outreach prevails.
Back in the era of mass advertising portrayed in the cable TV show Mad Men, people didn’t just have great clothes. They had an easier job. Everyone watched the same few TV stations or read Life magazine. You could spray out a generic message to everyone and pray someone would listen and buy. Ah, those were the days. Great dresses, cool cocktails and blanket messaging. Does anyone have a time machine handy?
In an era of hundreds of channels, social media and message overload, targeting the general public is futile unless you have the budget of Coca-Cola. It’s also ineffective. People expect a more personalized experience when they interact with a brand, including yours. So don’t think “spray and pray” – think “concentrate and inundate.” Build small, passionate committed groups of supporters with the power to spread the word in various communities rather than focusing on one big faceless prospect file doomed to receive the same generic messaging.

3. Marketing monologues don’t work. Conversations do.
Let’s review: Trust in marketers has given way to trust in each other. Mass communication has given way to masses of communicators. So people are listening to each other and talking to each other and forming their own communities. Where do you fit in? You’re just another party in communication with everyone else. You can’t simply be a marketer with a message. You need to be a marketer committed to conversation. Our role is not to talk at people but to engage with them, listen to them, and build a rapport and relationship around what mutually matters.

The bottom line? We used to crank out the self-serving copy, tell people to trust us and hit them for money. That era is over. Change your message, your messengers and your goals. This isn’t about extracting money from people. It’s about making great things happen – together.

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