Note To Brands: Make Things People Want

Have you ever wondered why marketing and advertising is such hard work?

We are constantly trying to change the way that people behave and think – positioning brands and businesses in the centre of a relationship that is only ever on the peripheral of our customers’ worlds. And while for us – for the business owner, brand manager or agency – there is a real centrality to our relationship with the brand, it is simply not the case for the vast majority of the people that we want to talk to.


As Hugh MacLeod explained back in 2006, “if you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face”.

And while social media awareness has become widespread, many businesses still struggle with it. Where’s the ROI they ask. Where’s the relevance? How will it drive sales? And while these are important questions, they are important questions for a mature channel. Very few businesses have the knowledge, expertise and capability to determine the answers – let alone the capacity to integrate these answers into a comprehensive brand and engagement framework. The channel has matured but our organisational understanding of it continues to lag.

But there is another way.

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Rather than making people want things – spending our precious resources creating awareness, inspiring interest and stimulating desire in our customer base, what if we just made things that people want?

What of we went further – and understood our customer’s journey from the outside-in? So, rather than pushing messages out designed to interrupt and stimulate – what if we could participate and engage? What if we provided so much incentive, surprise and delight that this engagement prompted purchase, created a business relationship or turned a “detractor” into an advocate?

What if what we did made someone’s life better?

John Willshare argues exactly this – that brands are fracking the social web – and missing the real opportunity presented by digital and social media.

But what can you do? Practically? Why don’t you start:

  • Small: Rather than thinking of the vision that will change the world, what is your vision that will change one person’s experience of what you do. Have the big vision in your back pocket, but start as small as you can bear.
  • Quick: Stop thinking about doing and start acting. Raid the petty cash tin and think about what you can do with a budget you can hold in one hand.
  • Inclusive: Don’t sit in a room planning – go talk to your customers. Engage with them on social media. Bring them into your process

And I bet that within a week you’ll have a deeper understanding of the problems your customers want you to solve than you have resources to deliver. And that’s the whole point, surely.

Are Brands Fracking The Social Web? – v2.0 from John V Willshire

  Discuss This Article

Comments: 3

  • good luck. Many of us are leaving social media in droves and turning off the TV and radio. Having bought m,y share of tems made by what sed to be reputable brand names that are now so cheap they fal apart the second time you se them, we have decided to start buying everything second hand.
    Corporations have literally destroyed the community,gvernment if not the soul of America. We are about to fight back

    • Way to go – another bright, clear thinker. You’re on the right track. Now, if others would only pause to feel the breeze, smell the fragrance of what’s real and know they can make a difference by what they choose and how to act, we may yet have a better world to enjoy. We all can contribute more as we listen to the needs of others and respond by sharing . . .

  • Um, sorry I really don’t want to be involved in some random company’s marketing campaign. They should be able to figure it out. Besides what could be more boring than some corporation’s FB/Twitter page? Yes, make a quality product, designed well, and made ethically and marketing will be a lot simpler.

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