When you hear the word “marketing,” what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of brands promoting their latest product on social media, or ads that pop up when you Google something. This is how most people define marketing: blatant tactics by established brands to sway you into buying their product.
Now think about your most recent purchase: perhaps it was a latte, a pair of sunglasses, or a flight ticket. Did you consider that marketing was behind your decision to make those purchases?
Carlos Gil in his groundbreaking book The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and AI illustrates that the marketing that actually influences us to pull out our credit card is often unseen. He points out that the old form of marketing, or one-way, mass communication, is dead. What’s replaced it is a democratized way of consuming media, where everyone with an iPhone and an Instagram is an influencer.
Just open your preferred social media feed and notice which content you automatically scroll past, and which content makes you stop, like, and engage. More likely than not, you scroll right past brands’ sponsored posts and promotional content, and engage with real humans that you know in person or not.
Whether we realize it or not, social media content is influencing our consumption behaviors. A friend’s photos from their recent trip to Greece has us planning our next Instagrammable getaway; a fitness influencer’s workout video makes us look into their latest meal-prep book. Why does this work? Because, as Gil emphasizes, “people don’t buy from logos, they buy from people. People trust people.”
Gil points out that oftentimes, marketers and brands are perplexed as to why their social media efforts aren’t producing results. They post consistently, have a healthy follower account, and yet their content doesn’t get any real engagement or results. He equates this type of marketing to a digital ocean: brands stranded on an island sending out SOS (“same old stuff”) signals, hoping a follower will take notice.
The reality is, brands need to truly talk to their followers as humans in order to get noticed. Humans “all feel the need to be acknowledged, wanted and loved. As such, brands need to do a better job making customers feel valued.”
How does Gil suggest brands do this?
Step 1: Know where your target customer is
Start by figuring out who your target audience is and what channels they’re on. If you’re a B2B, your focus should be on LinkedIn and Facebook, not Snapchat and Instagram.
Step 2: Listen and offer help
Next, pay attention to the conversations that are happening on those networks, and swoop in to help. Each time a brand truly listens to a customer’s issue, they’re more likely to add one more advocate to their team of influencers.
You don’t need Kanye West advocating for your brand to make waves in the digital ocean. Each “super fan,” past customer, and employee has influence within their circles that you can tap into. When you convert them into a brand advocate, they have the potential to expand your reach way further than a boosted Facebook post.
Step 3: Form a genuine connection with your influencers
Once you identify these brand advocates, Gil advises that you should find ways every day to form relationships with them. Create “value-tainment” content (advice that your audience will find valuable and engaging), and DM your engaged followers to continue the conversation. This one-on-one, human-centered marketing is “all part of the game of standing out in a noisy digital ocean. You either sink or swim.”
These nuggets are just a glimpse into the valuable information that Gil includes in The End of Marketing. Not only is the content extremely insightful and applicable to any marketing strategy, but Gil also illustrates it all in an engaging, no-nonsense tone of voice.
I’m honored to be able to call Carlos a friend, and can vouch that he walks what he talks. Not only is he genuine in real life, but his personal brand also reflects his sincerity. As Brian Solis mentions in the forward, he’s “always admired Carlos’s drive and ‘real talk’ approach to digital engagement.” Gil’s writing style reflects the message he drives home in his book; that being human will give you more returns than treating your audience like robots.
While I’ve enjoyed Carlos’ friendship for over 6 years now, the Alphametic team was able to meet him for the first time recently when he stopped into the office. He was generous with his time and advice, sharing his story with us and signing our copy of The End of Marketing. Anyone who meets Carlos, sees him speak, or reads his work can see that he’s clearly a thought leader in the industry. I look forward to seeing what his next project will be.
Matthew Capala is a seasoned digital marketing executive, founder/CEO of Alphametic, a Miami-based digital marketing agency, author of “The Psychology of a Website,” dynamic speaker, and entrepreneur.