“Marketing with Meaning”: A social media book, and then some

When I read the first few chapters of Bob Gilbreath’sThe Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect with your customers by marketing with meaning,” I could relate with every word. After all, a lot of the advice aligns perfectly with the basics of what we do every day in social media marketing, including:

  • “What if we started over? What if we threw out the textbooks and the flowcharts and rose above the snazzy jingle, the celebrity bribe, the empty sizzle, and the ad accost? What if we stopped trying (and failing) to be all things to all people and instead tried to create something of meaning? What if we stopped interrupting people to tell them how great our products are and actually did something to prove our greatness?”
  • “Ninety-nine percent of people say that consumer-generated online reviews are ‘very or somewhat credible.'”
  • “Marketing as we have known it for decades is no longer sustainable in its current form… While we could once rely on a steady stream of sales with a continuous flow of ad dollars, advertising as it is practiced today is viewed as a noisy negative externality pushed onto people we are meant to serve. And our sales results, brand value, and career prospects are suffering.”

At first, I even wondered what he could share that wouldn’t be social media marketing. After all, social media agencies and our clients have to earn the attention of our audience and we have to merit the social sharing that makes our campaigns successful.

All true, but Bob made me realize quickly that the way we do it at Ignite is only one of the many ways by which you can implement marketing with meaning, as he calls it.

Bob does share the success of Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty,” which is well known among social media marketers, but he also shares a number of other examples that live in other spheres, including:

  • The dish soap that bypassed traditional advertising, providing instead full-sized samples by offering them to Israeli soldiers going home on leave for the weekend. The sample included a note to the effect of, “Spend more time with me when I’m home.” The brand soon became number one in the market place.
  • The dietary supplement, Align, a probiotic that takes 30 days to work, which added meaning by coaching people through how they could expect to feel during those first 30 days.
  • The flagship Abercrombie & Fitch store in New York City, where you can have your photo taken along with one of their models.

In short, the book was a thoroughly researched, thoughtfully articulated reminder that (a) connecting with your customers on a deeper level is the very best way to market, and (b) social media marketing is only one of the ways to do that.

Marketing as a whole would be better off if more brand managers read this book, stopped asking for “sell, sell, sell” ads, and started finding ways to actually connect with their customers. As Bob shows in this book in results-based example after results-based example, that’s the best way to actually sell, sell, sell.

Full disclosure: I know Bob through a mutual client and he sent me a free book to review. At first I thought I was reading it as a favor, but really he did me the favor by reminding me of the many ways there are to do great marketing, online and off.

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1 Comment
  • Magnus Lundin
    Posted at 15:52h, 22 December

    I really enjoy your (Ignites) self-distance in this post!

    Thank you and a great Christmas to you all at Ignite.

    Magnus Lundin – Sweden

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