Engaging CultureStrategy & Marketing

Are You Marketing or Influencing?

I’m not against marketing at all, but in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, we need to be thinking about “influencing.”  What’s the difference?

Marketing is pitching your message to the customer, donor, or audience.  Although you can certainly target based on demographics, geography, income levels, and more, it’s still more about you than about them.  In other words, traditional marketing is about what you want someone else to do – as in “buy my product,” “attend my church,” “watch my movie,” etc.

Influencing on the other hand has the customer, donor, or audience in mind as the first priority.  What can my product do for them?  Beyond simply selling a product, how can my marketing message educate, inform, or inspire them?

Social media is a great asset for influencing because it allows you to provide regular answers, information, and guidance to a wide variety of people from multiple platforms.  Generation after generation businesses and communicators got it wrong.  They believed our only responsibility was sending out a one-way message.  But today, we also have a responsibility to make sure that message is received.

In the open media world of the future, those who simply advertise or promote without regard to the way the audience understands and responds will be left in the dustbin of history.  You need to understand the technological changes that are happening today and the way those changes are transforming the way we communicate.

Change your traditional “marketing” mindset to an “influencing” mindset, and you’ll start developing loyal supporters, customers, and yes, even fans.

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  1. Very thought provoking, Phil, thanks!

    I had someone tell me once I should be pushier when selling my paintings – and I felt that wouldn’t be right. Because if someone hasn’t connected to the piece, I shouldn’t talk them into it. They are the ones who would have to look at it over their Cheerios box each morning, not me. And through not being hard-sell, I developed clients who were never afraid to come to my art show openings, knowing I wouldn’t be pushy – and a number of them have bought at this point, four or five of my pieces. I know that was a deeper relationship with them.

    Now I have friends telling me I need to be pushier re: my comedy, and mold my “sell” to what they think churches want to hear, rather than just saying, “Here’s what I do, I’m funny, I’m a follower of Christ, let’s have fun, and let me help your church reach out” – I want to be a part of what churches actually do in their community long after I’ve boarded a plane for home, and not so much build my mailing list or fans or point them to me . . . I want to help them connect with the community long-term, be a part of that seed planting somehow . . . So, while I understand the very practical need for marketing, but my heart is in the “influencing.”

    Anyway, I like the way you said this . . . still thinking about it.

  2. Love this post! Building on your thought:

    “… Generation after generation businesses and communicators got it wrong. They believed our only responsibility was sending out a one-way message. But today, we also have a responsibility to make sure that message is received.” 

    May I suggest, also, not only received, but interacted with and integrated into future communications? In other words, today’s audience influences back; it helps create the message. An that is exactly how they like it.

  3. Good article, very to the point. The smartest, savviest salespeople have known this for a long time. Put yourself in your client or your prospect’s shoes and ask “what’s in it for me?”. Buyers are more aware of what is out there, so the role of sales/marketing is information and consultation.

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