Do we have a caring crisis?


We marketers are under the delusion that we've engaged. That our brands have an active and meaningful connection with people.

This is harsh. But it has to be said. We don’t. And nobody cares.

Am I being sensational? Maybe a little. But there is a point. We have this false sense that since we have a Facebook page and we tweet that we are having a conversation with prospects and customers. That they're engaged. ‘Conversations' and ‘engagement' are things that take energy and commitment. Views and likes don’t equate.

The harsher reality

Here’s the harsher reality. We will accept the illusion. We’ll talk ourselves into believing that since there is some interaction on the social channels that we have some great engagement. We don’t even stop to consider that these friends and followers may not even be who we’re really trying to reach. Heck, they may be random people with some extra time on their hands. (Yeah, I know you have the analytics to show me that these are prime prospects. But there is a big difference between somebody who fits a profile and somebody who actually cares.)

The truth is that even our customers don't want to think about our brands. They're thinking about their job (will there be a downsizing?). They're thinking about their kids (orthodontics?). They're thinking about the mortgage payment that is due. They have plenty of important stuff to think about. They don’t really want to think about us.

A caring crisis?

Do we have a caring crisis? It makes you wonder. Here are some things to consider. First of all, there has been a reduction in length of attention span, dropping by nearly one third since 2000.

Second, reports continue to show that brand loyalty is diminishing, especially among the Millennials – which happens to be the largest generation. And third, we are all bombarded with messages every hour of every day. And the pace of that bombardment is accelerating.

Put all this together and it’s easy to understand why there seems to be a caring deficiency.

The antidote

Is it a pipe dream to think that we can get people to care? No. There is an opportunity during the day when we may have their attention for the very briefest of moments. We need to respect the preciousness of that moment. That means offering something more than just a sales pitch. Something that gives them a reason to care.

This is why I continue to advocate for a Big Audacious Meaning. Because a reason to care is baked in. We’ve done the work to boldly state the difference we are aspiring to make in a life, a community, or even the world. We don’t have to manufacture a reason to care at that moment. Or hope that by some stroke of luck they’ll be interested in a sales pitch. We are ready and waiting for them. With something meaningful to offer.

The challenge is that we’ve been preoccupied with the latest channels and technology. We’ve worried about learning the tricks. And when we have experienced this crisis of caring, we have answered by just increasing the volume of telling and selling. All of which has just fueled the crisis.

The only way to mitigate this crisis is to bring real meaning back into the equation. Nothing does that like a Big Audacious Meaning.

Dan Salva is a co-founder of Will & Grail, with more than three decades of experience in brand marketing and developing and implementing go-to-market strategies. He can be reached at

PurposeDan Salva