The Latin root of the word 'advertise', advertere, means 'to turn towards', the same root word as 'adverse' and 'adversary'. I was reading The Decade in Online Advertising research report by DoubleClick and this part got my attention. I agree with the researchers, something's gotta give in the next decade of marketing sponsorship.
It's not that we consumers do not like to make purchases, or that we do not need information that can help us with our decisions; there are times that I actually do want to speak to a sales person. What we are all reacting to in frustration is the overload, the timing, the places in which we suffer intrusion, perceived or not, into our lives.
I often receive unsolicited calls from publications and service providers. The call begins with: "I am so and so, of XYZ company and we do this and that, etc.". I do not get a kick out of being short, yet this person who has just interrupted my day has not even asked me if it was a good time to talk. In one of my earlier posts I listed a few ingredients to an effective conversation. By far the most important is permission. So the caller launches into this lengthy regurgitation of what their company does and why I need their help. Recently I interrupted to ask a question myself: why do you think I need your help? The answer was very telling: "Hmmm, I do not know if you do, do you?". Ah, gotcha.
This is also true for emails. I once had a correspondence with a sales professional who was, by his own admission, 'shooting in the dark' and hoping for the best by sending me a whole bunch of messages over a two-week period. Finally, out of respect for his hard work, I found the time to respond by giving him some advice on how to build a relationship with our company. It turns out he was not interested in listening to our needs, he was kind of hoping we would just buy what he had to offer -- "it works enough times" he said. Well, suffice it to say this applies also to people I may meet at professional events. Even people in a closer circle of acquaintances sign me up to their newsletter without ever asking me for permission.
The point is marketing, like all other types of conversations, should be about asking permission first. Earning the right to tell a story by appealing to consumers and to what they need and want in their lives. In fact, I find that marketing is more and more about listening and providing the right information at the right time for the consumer. DoubleClick calls this 'invertising', various forms of marketing that consumers invite into their lives. Standing out in the midst of all this clutter has never been easier; listen, follow through, keep your promises.