I’ve got issues.
Hoo boy, where to start.
I never have that just out of the salon look.
Even when I’m just out of the salon.
And then there’s my car. I mean, c’mon. It just screams to the world “I’m never going to arrive!”
Really, I make it easy for them:
You know. Them. Marketers. PR people.
The whole industry is built around making people want things they sometimes didn’t even know existed a short time ago.
And to do that, they often try and make me feel inadequate.
And by me I mean us:
All we need to feel better about ourselves again is whatever it is they’re selling. Hope in a jar. Youth in a pill. No workout weight loss.
Wait, is that last thing really a thing? Cuz I am so in if it is…
They’ve been doing it for about a century, since marketers were first charged with creating demand for products being produced by retooled munitions factories, the backbone of the then new economy.
Citizens were turned into consumers:
We were lead this way and that through purchases we needed to make to keep the economy humming along. We weren’t to be trusted with anything too important. Or requiring much thought. We weren’t thought to be particularly capable of it anyway.
But along came the internet. And then Social Media and our ability to confer with each other.
It turns out, a whole lot of us don’t like being made to feel inadequate.
He is also the author of a great book called Winning the Story Wars which offers an alternative to Inadequacy Marketing.
Empowerment Marketing is not new. Campaigns going back to VW’s Think Small campaign of 1959 have been inviting consumers to break away from what is expected of them as consumers.
They have not been the norm.
But they may well be as Millennials become more of a force. They won’t put up with inadequacy marketing.
And they very much long for engagement in everything they give their time and/or money to.
There are a bunch of things you need to know about Empowerment Marketing. Here are three of them.
The Audience is a Citizen:
Empowerment Marketing does not view the audience as a consumer, a person whose only worth is measured in product sales. She is a citizen. She is self actualized and assumed to live a meaningful, worthwhile lifes outside of her purchasing power.
The Audience is the Hero:
Absolutely no brand is the hero of my life and those rumours about me and Mr. Clean are wildly exaggerated. Empowerment marketing recognizes that people are the hero of their own lives. The brand can play the mentor whose call to action inspires someone to take action on something they feel drawn to. But they are not the hero.
Seriously good news. This may mean that the days of women singing love songs into their mops could be past. I’m so happy I could just…damnit. Singing into my mop would really be problematic after what I just said, wouldn’t it?
Which brings me to my last point. And surprise, I have one!
Stories offer optimism and possibilities:
Your audience is fine as she is. She is not inadequate or incomplete. But as people do when they have it together, she is looking outside of who she is now to see who she could become. What she could stand for.
And it’s by offering them the possibility of who they can be, themselves but better, often in community with others, that people will gravitate towards the brightest beacons.
Your job is to light those beacons.
Your audience isn’t broken.
She doesn’t need your product or service to make her whole. But there is this call. This need. This yearning to be part of something greater than. You can be that for her.
And doesn’t that feel better?