Much of the current spending in digital marketing is at the very bottom of the funnel. There are literally billions of dollars being spent to target the right consumer in the right place at the right time, and much of it is completely wasted due to a simple fact: consumers hate it. The common use case for some game-changing ad tech platform is thus: “Imagine a consumer walking into a bar and at that exact moment she is targeted with an ad for Stella because we’ve got a pixel that connects to her GPS location.” Would you like that as a consumer? Hell no, and yet marketers are rushing to chase this tactic although it potentially causes damage to all the hard work they have put into building their brand. In choosing this bombardment of the customer everywhere they go we are repeating history, because during the mass marketing years we did not pay attention to the downside of “spray and pray” marketing either. Worse than just being annoying, it is damaging to the customer experience. As marketers we need to start thinking more like matchmakers than hunters to stay relevant to shoppers.

Just Because You CAN Market to Someone, Does Not Mean You Should. Given the choice between developing a marketing idea that dazzles fellow marketers but falls flat with customers, or cultivating a no-frills idea that works because it gives customers exactly what they want/need even though it isn’t flashy, which option do you lean toward? Many marketers may talk about putting the customer first, but actions say otherwise.

There are many reasons that marketers overcomplicate their perception of what customers want. Maybe they got into marketing because it stokes their creativity, and they want to demonstrate that creativity to the world. A perfectly reasonable person being honest, will choose the first option, whether it’s because they think it will impress their peers, advance their career, establish their position as an influencer, or for one of many other reasons.

Building your personal brand is a natural, worthy goal for any professional, but not when it comes at the expense of the larger brand that you represent. Too often we see marketers who, regardless of intent, view the world only from the perspective of their goals in many cases, but should not be doing so when flexing those creative muscles leads to a lesser experience for the people who buy the brand’s product.

Often, it’s a case of putting the marketer’s own desires ahead of the team and the brand that they represent. They want their hard work to be recognized, they are angling for a spot on the speaker circuit, or they simply focus on self at the expense of the big picture. Regardless of the reason, it leads to marketing that’s bad for the brand, the consumer, and ultimately the marketer as well.

The fact of the matter is that brands are running headlong into brand equity destruction through incessant programmatic and digital spamming. The rise of retargeting and digital yield techniques is killing brands and brand equity for the long-term. How many managers bother signing up for their own email distribution lists, or shop their brands from an anonymous browser to experience what their customers are being subjected to?

We have data coming out of our ears, so tracking the results of our marketing efforts in terms of dollars and cents is becoming easier and easier. However, all these efforts only measure the upside of banging consumers over the head (how many more clicks, shares, engagements and sales we get).

No regard is given to the downside numbers. What we are not tracking is the point at which our customers turn from just annoyed to fed up with our bot stalking and algorithm tweaking. And even if we could come up with a KPI for the flip side, it will be difficult to analytically compare.

So, what’s a marketer to do? We need to spend as much time finding ways to track the negative effect of our marketing efforts as we do the positive ones. We now know that our marketing has both positive and negative effects on our consumers, so we need to study all of it. By controlling how we market to our customers and finding ways to add value rather than beating them over the head, we can have a less disruptive effect on their lives and a more positive experience with our brands.

Despite becoming numb to the onslaught of messaging, the overall perception of brands that are engaging in such digital behavior is declining dramatically… to maintain relevancy, brands need to get back to the basics of putting themselves in the shoes of the customer.

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