I Fear Marketers’ Self-Love Is Getting in the Way of Serving Consumers

Marketers talk a lot about listening to the consumer and providing the custom-content consumers crave, precisely when they want it. We cleverly insert key words, tested visuals, emotional stories, buttons and links…. And then we sit back, gleefully counting clicks.

I have a problem with this. It really hit me at the Heath Summit of Content Marketing World. Speaker after speaker stood at the podium delighted to report how they’re generating mounds and mounds of searchable content, careful to implant just the right photo or video to ensure they lure in as many unsuspecting prey…er, patients, as they can. The speakers were absolutely giddy when they could prove their content was being found and consumed. Ha! Got ‘em!

Sure, this is our job. Or part of it. I just think we can go a lot further. In fact, I think we have a responsibility–to the brands we represent, to our colleagues, to our customers and even the general public—to connect some dots. We need to be more accountable. Not because we are in a public service industry. (We’re literally in the business of saving lives!) But simply because we are professionals with integrity. My message is for all marketers. For all communicators. Our work has consequences.

Content ad infinitum does not ensure a high level of understanding or better quality care. Painstakingly measured photography does not help a frantic caregiver or a sick patient or even a confused car buyer. Somehow we need to measure our effectiveness more holistically. We need to concern ourselves with real outcomes. Do consumer questions really get answered? Do the phone numbers we provide work? Is the phone answered in a reasonable amount of time? Is the person that answers the phone able to assist the caller at that moment? When patients click on a button, does the technology work at least most of the time? Are lives made simpler or better in some way due to our thoughtful communication?

Of course, we aren’t in a position to control every aspect of a consumer’s journey. But we can work much more closely with our colleagues and management teams to deliver on the promises we so boldly make. There is no point in reeling people in only to disappoint.

And I know I’m not alone when I say, as a consumer, I have been wildly disappointed lately. As marketers, we have to accept some responsibility for this. We need to care what happens after the Almighty Click. We have to step away from our precious silos and jargon-speak, and just care about the people we serve. Only then will we be in a position to ask for their trust.

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