Marketing today has some similarities to marketing in the past, with one main difference. The customer is in charge! What happened? Is there a marketing rebellion at hand?

The Third Marketing Rebellion

Mark W. Schaefer, in his book Marketing Rebellion (pick it up, it’s a keeper), argues that we’re in the midst of a third marketing rebellion. In this rebellion, the truth is paramount. Authenticity isn’t just a buzzword, and today’s customer wants to feel a real connection with the companies from which they buy.


Today’s consumer is someone who wants to feel like they’re a part of something. In fact, the word “consumer” isn’t an accurate word to describe them anymore. To consume means to acquire something.

Customers today are done with mass consumption, acquiring things just to have them. They no longer want to buy products from faceless organizations because of an ad on TV.

Your customers want a reason to buy from you. If they just wanted another commodity, they can go to Wal Mart and buy whatever their little heart desires. But these purchases hold no real value or future for them.

You’re not competing with Wal Mart or even Amazon. You’re competing with attention and loyalty. Your customer, if they can get it, wants to buy something unique, boutique, and something they can believe in and tell their friends about.

They are rebelling against consumerism.

Is Analog the New Digital?

Maybe in some ways, your customer is craving something more tangible. They want something they can hold, figuratively and sometimes literally. So what, now you have to start pitching your services on street corners (that didn’t sound right) or deliver your products in some hand-crafted package?

Not really, let’s be real here. Digital marketing is not going away. In fact, digital marketing is more powerful and effective than ever, even within this rebellion. So, how do you use the tools available to deliver your customer a meaningful experience?

Don’t abandon digital marketing, be smarter about it. Here a few digital marketing tactics/tools of the past that should die if you haven’t killed them already…

  1. Websites that are all about you
  2. Email marketing that does nothing but sell
  3. Social media posts that are more like ads or pitches
  4. Marketing automation efforts set to “stalk”

Getting the picture. It’s time to do digital marketing with an analog mindset. Make your marketing count, make it real.

All This Machinery Making Modern Marketing Can Still Be Open-Hearted

If you’re not a Rush fan that heading will seem rather odd. Forgive me. My point here is that we are awash in marketing technology making it easier than ever to connect with our audience.

That said, so many companies are using things like retargeting, marketing automation, and sentiment analysis to stalk their clients. I admit it’s difficult to do retargeting without coming across a little creepy. All I’m saying is that with every bit of marketing you do, you need to think through the customer experience.

If you’ve never heard the term customer experience, here’s a great definition from Blake Morgan, a columnist at Forbes…

“Customer experience considers everything the customer goes through—it’s everything the customer touches, tastes, smells, hears, sees throughout the experience with the brand. What are they going to feel or think? It’s being almost obsessive about the experience the customer has with the brand—the attitude of ‘I want to be here,’ rather than ‘I have to be here.’”

Marketing Automation the Right Way

I think this sometimes gets lost in the programmatic side of marketing. We start obsessing about numbers and metrics and forget about people. Marketing automation, for example, has been a game-changer for marketers.

Companies can get their messaging in front of customers at every stage of the sales funnel and craft messages specifically to get customers to “act.” Is this wrong, shady, creepy? It depends on how you do it.

You need to move the needle. Your bottom line is at stake. And I’m not saying you must abandon all efforts geared toward that end. That would be crazy. Just think it through. If you focus on every aspect of the customer experience, you’ll win in the short run and long term.

Let’s Rethink Digital Marketing

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Smart marketing means thinking through each tactic you put in place. This isn’t a post about how to do marketing automation or email marketing.

And this isn’t a review of Mark’s book. This post is a plea to marketers everywhere. Join the rebellion or get left behind!

Mr. Sparkle - Join Me or Die
Image source:

Marketing Efforts that Support the Customer Experience

Digital marketing can still support a positive customer experience. Here are some examples of what I mean…

  • Company Website – instead of an online corporate resume or a conversion machine, make it a holistic customer resource. Yes, you want them to buy, but, remember, your customers want more than just a transaction. Try mixing in useful resources and a community feel. In their journey to do business with you, give them a sense of belonging. Not only will they be more likely to do repeat business, but they will also talk about their great customer experience to friends, online and off.
  • Social Media Marketing – this is a channel where you can either annoy, empower, or entertain. Obviously, you want to avoid being annoying (I’m looking at you people who message me on LinkedIn the second we connect). Whether you empower, like providing useful posts for followers on Twitter, or entertain, like posting funny videos on Facebook, make sure these efforts are not only in line with your marketing goals but also in line with the type of customer experience you are fostering.
  • Email Marketing – the inbox is sacred. The amount of spam people get is obscene. Don’t add to the clutter. Make sure your emails are helpful, informative, or otherwise support the customer experience. Email marketing works best when it’s consistent, useful, and respectful of the recipient’s time.
  • Marketing Automation – HubSpot, SharpSpring, Marketo, and the like are all useful and powerful marketing tools. These tools allow you to programmatically engage with your target audience all through the sales funnel, from awareness all the way to purchase. Marketing automation is also an opportunity to further improve and enhance the customer experience. Yes, you want your customers to buy what you’re selling, and no one is saying you shouldn’t. Just take some time and be thoughtful about these efforts.

These marketing journeys or customer journeys are just as important to consider as is that final conversion point. And then track all of this and adjust as needed to improve your customer’s experience.

Our Customers Know We Want Their Data

In a recent AdAge article by Mathew Sweezey, “Accenture found that 83 percent of customers are happy to let you track them as long as you are using that data to create better experiences for them.”

So, you may be asking yourself, “this is great, but how do I know what that journey should look like in the first place?” Well, according to Mathew, you should ask your customers what they want and expect.

They want a better experience of doing business with you. If you make that the focus of a targeted interview with them, the insights you’ll get will be worth their weight in gold! Just be open and listen.

Then, as you implement your marketing strategies, track those journeys against real data using marketing automation and other tracking tools. Remember, they don’t mind you tracking them as long as the endgame is an improvement in the customer experience.

This is a win-win and yet so many marketers insist on being sneaky. Why is that?

The Marketing Rebellion is Real!

I could go on but I think you get the idea. If you get nothing else from this post, remember these two things…

  1. Marketing Rebellion is a book worth checking out.
  2. All marketing efforts should support a positive customer experience.

What do you think? Am I being too peace, love, and harmony? Or is this making some real sense? Let me know in the comments below.