I'll start with a disclaimer:
The following content is addressed to eCommerce and marketing aficionados. It is an exercise in both conceptual thinking and creative marketing copywriting, and it can serve as a starting point for the reader’s own explorations. Little will be spelled out for you, this piece threads more in the realm of suggestion.
Consequently, do not expect definitive solutions or recipes, neither regarding digital marketing tools nor cutting-edge marketing concepts. Under-prepared marketers or eCommerce newbies risk losing touch with business reality, so read on at your own risk. :)
Marketing Is Magic | The Art of Handling Attention
I once assigned this exact topic to a brilliant writer, a close friend to this day. I ended my content-request brief with a complicit remark and an incomplete emoji:
"I need you to write a thought-leading piece about the magic of marketing in the context of an increasingly digitised business environment, but I challenge you to avoid quoting Arthur C. Clarke in the process. ^_"
I was, of course, referring to Clarke’s famous quote:
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
She turned it in within 24 hours, which was not wholly uncommon, but, considering the complex nature of the topic, I had assumed she would need to take at least two days to square this circle properly. As it turned out, she sent me one of the most beautiful pieces I had ever read. It was compelling, witty and positively engaging, but there it was, planted right after the second paragraph:
Any sufficiently advanced marketing-automation platform is indistinguishable from magic.
"It is called paraphrasing, Sorin," she protested. "You said nothing about paraphrasing."
With no reasonable objections in mind, I thanked her and immediately sent the piece to a friendly media outlet where it got published the very next week. It was a minor lead-generation hit, but a memorable bit of brilliant writing nonetheless, and I believe it did awareness wonders for the marketing automation start-up that hired us to write it.
Unsurprisingly, she was the first person I thought of this morning when I saw this insanely insightful video authored by The Nerd Writer:
Unfortunately, I mined both the web and my backup drives for my friend's piece, to no result, so I decided to go for it myself, but, instead, I will try to argue at the other end of the spectrum.
Of course, I keep an eye out for the ever-evolving tactics of digital marketing and the sophisticated technologies upon which they rely. However, the magic, as I will do my best to show you, rests dormant in the mind of the marketer, and not throughout the intricate marketing tools he or she is bound to use in the digital business landscape of the 21st century.
So, I have decided that the positively miraculous bits still reside in our ability to reconcile our empathetic excursions throughout the consumer-behaviour landscape with our relentless pursuit to get messages across, despite the earsplitting market noise.
Let's continue our journey with a brief exploration of the hindering complexity of marketing personas.
Behind the Scene | The Props, the Masks, and the Glitter
We start out with extensive demographics and business intelligence reports. After all, nobody would want to spout out messages through various media, praying for random hits. It makes sense, of course, to look at the data and even involve data scientists to uncover minute, yet potentially crucial insights into the behavioural patterns and cultural preferences of target audiences.
To cut the story short, after gathering the intelligence and determining the vital actionable insights, we formulate our vision of the ideal customer for every market segment presumably worth pursuing. For reasons that shall soon become apparent, let's narrow it down to one segment and a single, briefly described champion marketing persona:
Everybody, Meet Lucy!
Lucy is twenty-eight years old, she graduated from an ivy league school and is pursuing a C-level position within a multinational corporation. She lives in a neat New-York apartment with her forty-year-old husband and their five-year-old son. Their household relies on an average yearly income of about $170.000.
From this point on, all marketing messages will be tailored to fit Lucy's worldviews, and this, my friends, is where the toolbox of marketing and communication takes a secondary role in favour of psychology and poetics.
The Poetics of Marketing Personas
At some point, we all grasp that, to varying degrees, we need to separate our personal and professional lives. People do it for all sorts of reasons.
Most of my colleagues and friends think it merely has to do with privacy, and I get it, but I feel that we need to spend a tiny bit more time contemplating the concept of embodying several roles, especially since, at times, these instances lead to contradictory ideation.
Of course, Lucy is just a persona, scribbled in tidy Arial 10 on the computer screen of some marketer, but bear with me, she might as well be real. A corporate attorney by day and a dancer by night, Lucy has a five-year-old son, whose name is Jimmy.
Lucy is great at being both a mom and an over-achieving professional, especially since her husband Bobby is quite helpful at home, but she finds it increasingly difficult to make time for her most intimate passion: dancing.
Lucy longs for the emotional rainbow she used to experience when she practised her arabesque, at the end of a swift balancoire, after exhibiting ballon throughout her vigorous bravura.
She studied ballet, hip-hop, and contemporary, and once dreamt of becoming a professional dancer, but never tried to join a dance company and got swallowed by the corporate world as soon as she was handed her business-law degree.
Wait a Minute! But How Many Lucys Are There?
Of course, you will not be selling a lot to your ideal customer. You will not be selling a lot to Lucy. You, my friend, are in the business of making your audience feel what Lucy feels, want what Lucy wants, and buy what Lucy buys.
What would you sell to Lucy?
Similarly, in social media campaigns, most of those who like and share your content will not spend a dime on your services and products, but some of their friends and connections definitely will.
Wrapping up, you are actually selling to those who aspire to the status of your ideal customer, and you should make sure that your prices fit their ability to purchase.
Magic? Perhaps, to the untrained eye.
Poetics? I could not be surer.