Inspire me! (The new rule every brand has to play by.)

WRITTEN BY DAN SALVA

In the old days, it was tell and sell. A brand would pummel TV viewers over and over with the same commercial. It seemed to me those truck commercials during football games were the most egregious offenders. I guess there was some research that showed that assaulting us with the same commercial with the same litany of features over and over makes us want to buy trucks?

I could say those truck owners are the thick-skulled types who only respond after mind-numbing repetition of the same truck commercial. Except, I owned a truck. And I don't consider myself to be the thick-skulled type (although my wife may disagree). Either way, we’re not going to diminish truck buyers with some too-easy stereotype.

The point is that it’s now going to take more than a classic rock song and a velvety baritone reading a list of features to engage us. Today it is stupid-easy to avoid a crap commercial. We have mute buttons. We can time-shift, fast forwarding through the sensory battering. And we have second screens (mobile phones) that we can shift our attention to. And even third screens (laptops and tablets).

The blunt force of a heavy rotation media buy has been neutered.

Before we share a collective sigh of relief, consider this. This isn’t isolated to crappy truck commercials. This goes for every message any brand hopes to convey. In other words, this makes it more challenging for any of us who are attempting to share a message, today.

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Our brand is going to have to stand for something

We have a population that is overwhelmed and distracted. And the largest bunch (Millennials) have a different expectation of a brand. They don’t want us to just tell them what we do. They’ve already Googled us and Facebooked it before we’ve made it through the opening of our pitch. They want us to try harder. No, scratch that. They expect us to try harder.

They want to know why they should care. They want to know how we are going to make them feel connected. How we’re going to help them feel part of something larger. And meaningful. They want to be inspired.

And, honestly, the Gen Xer’s and Boomers are watching. And they’re realizing they can demand more from the brands that they choose.

We can fight it. Deny it. Continue to treat our customers and prospects like backcountry rubes that only respond to a messaging assault. Or we can embrace the fact that we need to give them something more than our spec sheet of features. We will need to quit thinking of them as targets and start thinking of them as those we hope to serve. Then we’ll need to step back and clarify that thing about our brand that has the potential to inspire all those we hope to serve.

It’s our choice. Okay, it’s not really even a choice. It’s the new rule.