Mark Schaefer

I’m i’m a marketing uh consultant and speaker i spent most of my career at a big fortune 100 companies had the opportunity to work all over the world and also work on my master’s degree and i Studied under a great man named peter drucker that had a big influence on me when I was getting my MBA al I got a master’s degree in applied behavioral sciences which has helped me to be a consultant and then in 2008 i started my own business I started consulting and doing a little teaching and because i was curious about social media that was really going mainstream in that time frame i started to blog and get immersed in social media so i could consult about it and talk about it and my blog became popular that led to books and the books led to speaking and more consulting opportunities and that’s sort of uh where i am today in my heart i’m a i’m a teacher in everything that I do whether i blog or speak or write a book and i also teach at a university in America but i just like helping people and and teaching well writing a book is really hard, and it’s it’s so much work and sacrifice and so whenever i decide to write a book it’sgot to be about a big idea i’ve got to be really sure that this is going to be a book that’s that’s meaningful and that’s going to help many people and what was happening is as i went around the world and talked to marketing leaders at big companies and startups and even universities and non-profits i kept hearing the same thing i kept hearing people say that their marketing wasn’t working like it used to something was wrong something was different people said they felt stuck they were falling behind and i heard it everywhere even with the biggest companies so my original idea was that technology was moving so fast people felt overwhelmed and they were falling behind but as i got into the research i found something even more astounding and profound to me and that’s not only is the technology kind of moved ahead of us but our customers have moved ahead of us uh marketers and business they seem to like do a little bit better do a little bit better we’re going to do a little bit better on our facebook ads or our content or our seo but meanwhile our customers have moved a whole giant step away from us because they have the power of the human race in the palm of their hand they can make great decisions they can get all the information they want they can talk about our business communicate our businesses and the reality is the customers are in control and they are our marketers two-thirds of our marketing is occurring without us and to be successful today it challenges us to have a completely different mindset that we have to be invited into those conversations we can’t buy our way in we can’t advertise our way in we have to be invited to join those conversations and help our customers do their job as our marketers there was this quite amazing research that showed that well came from a number of different places that loyalty has declined and there was a clue in one of the research reports it said loyalty has declined because marketers have forgotten about emotion we’re too preoccupied with technology and algorithms and automation and we forgot that marketing is about creating some emotional connection between what we do and our audience that’s the foundational idea and and we’ve lost that we’re sort of hiding behind our dashboards and we need to rediscover that i mean i think marketing is sick right now in a lot of places because we’re making people mad with the things that we do when we spam people we know we don’t like it when we’re spammed but yet it’s okay for our companies to do it so we have to stop doing what people hate and we have to reimagine ourselves as a more you know we have to i i taught a class last week uh to all these students and we talked about a lot of these ideas for marketing rebellion and one of the students said so what you’re telling me is that if our companies just treat people like our friends will be okay i said that’s exactly it you know we know that we’re doing stuff that people hate and we wouldn’t do that to our friends and so i thought that was a pretty wise way to look at it there was a study done a few years ago by buzz sumo this is a company that studies billions and billions of pieces of content and they did a study of what is the emotion most associated with the content that went viral and the emotion was awe awa ah like wow i’ve never seen that before that is so cool that is so interesting that is so funny so it’s a very strong positive emotion that goes with the best content the the subtitle of the marketing rebellion book is the most human company wins now i’m not anti technology at all i’m anti um abusing people i don’t like it when people use technology to create barriers between themselves and other people or or their customers to make life harder or annoying i like when we use technology including ai when we can make life better and we can lower barriers like you and i are doing now we’re recording a podcast but we’re also seeing each other face to face on skype and we can see our faces and hear the passion in our voices and and so you and i are connecting in a very very human way and we’re only doing that through technology and that’s amazing so i think the opportunity is how do we use technology to be more human i think that’s absolutely possible we have to look at all the things that we’re doing in our company that how we’re using technology to to disrespect people to disrespect their privacy disrespect their time and we just have to stop it and we have to think about how can we create technology to really serve people and help people and listen to people and learn and connect on that emotional basis and it’s just not that hard it just takes a refocus and the companies that refocus will win it’s different for every person and and for every business uh you first of all you’re absolutely correct that social media is dramatically different than it was in 2007 or 2009 and part of it is because it’s just become so popular and uh so i read a statistic that showed that if facebook didn’t edit the content that you see through their algorithm that the average person on facebook would see 2 000 stories a day which is just too much so of course facebook has to say well which ones are we going to show and the ones that get hurt are companies and organizations and that’s unfortunate but it’s not that facebook is trying to hurt us they’re just trying to serve their customers very well and so we’ve got to find other ways to connect we’ve got to find better content or maybe we’ve got to support our content with advertising or maybe we need to connect with customers in new ways so it’s constantly changing and the dynamics are are fascinating and that’s why it’s i love being in marketing because uh it’s always changing so much that there’s always something new to talk about and learn i think that the big thing that’s changed is is customer expectations um and especially now through the pandemic um customer behaviors habits are changing dramatically customer expectations of business and companies and let me just so let me just give you a little story an example that i mean when i was a young man growing up in business marketing meant really kind of manipulating people the the only way they could connect with us before the internet was through our ads and so we were trying to get them to believe something about us and that’s what marketing and advertising was largely about but today customers are so powerful and so well informed i think the goal of marketing today so the old-fashioned view is we need to manipulate people so that they will buy things from us and i think today the more appropriate view of marketing is i respect you we respect you and we want to come alongside you at your point of need to help you how can we help you make more money save more money have a help your happier life have a healthier life be more entertained today or whatever your how can we do this how can we create products and make them even more useful to you to make your dreams come true whatever that might be and that is really what marketing needs to be about is coming alongside people at their point of need and being insanely generous and helpful and that creates the emotion that i think can lead to repeat purchases and people talking about you and and perhaps even loyalty so it’s it’s an important difference and that’s that battle that you’re talking about i think between the old marketing and the new marketing but the new marketing will win because the customers will win the customers always will win eventually so we need we need to listen to what’s going on and think about marketing in a new way you know i don’t like using the word dying either but i mean it is it’s dying out it’s becoming less relevant it’s it’s basically dying with with with the older generation who still likes paper newspapers and and uh you know commercial television and um so uh i mean it’s it’s the good news is is that a lot of the traditional media has um they’ve they’ve made the move um i’ve seen news for example like the big american newspaper the new york times now has more digital subscribers than paper subscribers uh so they’re moving ahead moving ahead they’re actually starting to hire more journalists now because they’re you know they’re able to you know to make that move um i think uh a lot of the traditional content creators like you know television studios movie studios they’re moving into the streaming thing and we still have a lot to learn about how that’s going to shake out and how a lot of that’s going to be monetized but you know the good news is it’s good for us i mean it’s good for consumers because things are getting better and better and better and cheaper and cheaper and cheaper we have more choice and more channels and so from a you know it’s almost overwhelming there’s so much good content out there um and but from a business perspective it’s extremely difficult because all of this great content uh that people love it’s also competing with us where you know it’s it’s the attention economy right and uh we have to find a way to break through and earn that attention even in a small way so we can be found and eventually you know people will connect with us unfortunately i can only speak about journalism in america i i i study that quite a bit and i you know i started out my background was a as a journalist so it’s something that i’m interested in and i mean i read about trends around the world but i really you know couldn’t say for example you know what’s happening in portugal but here in america uh we used to have a law called the fairness act so so journalism would be balanced and you had to give different different views and that went away and now the television stations have sort of like started to align with different uh political views and there’s no in most places there’s no obligation to be fair there’s no obligation to be uh balanced and what’s happening is in america in other parts of the world we’re losing our sense of a shared reality a shared reality used to be created because everybody read the same newspaper at night and you’d go home and you they’re like three or four different news channels to choose from and that was about it and there was no internet and there was no you know extreme extremist channels and you kind of got everybody sort of had the same attempt at balanced news and so if you had a shared reality you had something to argue about you had at least a common understanding of what was going on in the world now today because it’s become so polarized people can choose media that supports their worldview and that’s not real that’s not healthy i don’t know how to get out of it because as long as people can make money by taking these extreme positions and there’s you know hate is good for business polarization is good for business um controversy is good for business um and and now we we have these differing world views and it’s not that people are stupid or crazy it’s just that all the media they’re consuming is saying they’re right and so they look at their neighbor who believes something else and they can’t even imagine you can’t believe this because everything i see on the news says i’m right and the neighbor says well everything i see on the news you know i see is right and so that’s really that’s led to a lot of problems it and so i i don’t think there’s an easy way out of it i don’t uh in fact i think it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better one of the things that that’s happening is that different companies and uh and foundations are starting to sponsor independent journalism so they’re saying well look if we don’t have if if these media channels are trying to make their money by creating this divisiveness we’ll create these independent journalists who don’t have to worry about that will pay them they can stay independent but the problem i see i mean i think that’s healthy but the problem i see is that there are you know parts of america and the world now i guess they don’t want independent journalism they want journalism that’s that supports their uh and i was reading an article today that uh one commentator was saying that it’s it’s becoming more than polarization it’s like sectarianism it’s almost like warring religions or something that we they can’t even they can’t even what they don’t even want to be neighbors uh so uh you know i don’t i don’t know i i think uh all i know to do is is sort of uh do my best to stay centered be balanced and maybe you know pray pray for a solution i have a um a marketing retreat that i host uh it’s called the uprising and uh unfortunately because of the pandemic we can’t meet live like we used to but we’ve got an online over an online version and one of the things i taught i talked to people about and encouraged them is that as marketers we’re the face of our company or our brand we’re the light we’re the beacon and we can sort of choose how we want to be and how we want to present our company we’re we’re the content creators and we can be much more than people who trick others into clicking a link right you can trick people into clicking a link but you can’t trick them into loving you or listening to you and and so we do need to rise above that i think and just sort of re-elevate what marketing is supposed to be about uh it’s marketing when i took my first marketing class i opened up this book uh i i talked about this in the marketing rebellion book i opened up this textbook i said marketing is a combination of psychology sociology and anthropology i thought oh my gosh that’s the most interesting career i’ve ever heard of i want to be that but today we think about marketing we describe it in terms of technology and it’s not it’s still about human connection psychology sociology anthropology it’s listening and learning and responding and being humble as things change so that we can you know connect in a relevant way to to customers you know as the world changes to me that’s the beauty of marketing and we’ve just sort of lost sight of that uh the thing that really inspires me is this young i love gen z i love gen z i love millennials i uh you know it’s just i’m so inspired by their creativity and their and their fearlessness and i think creativity is uh you know like it’s sort of like you’ll you’ll see this uh concrete and there’ll be a crack in the concrete and somehow a seed got in the crack of this concrete and is growing out of this vacant rock there’s a plant that’s growing and the roots are so powerful it breaks the rock eventually and grows and grows and grows and i think innovation is sort of like that there’s there’s a there’s a there’s a pulse i mean if you’re a creative person and you have ideas you’re going to find that crack you’re going to find a way to grow and spread and if you look for example like what’s happening on tick tock now it is this explosion of creativity it’s a celebration of dancing and singing and acting and art and everything it’s it’s fantastic and so uh you know maybe if if uh education is missing it maybe tick tock’s getting it maybe tick tock is the crack in the concrete uh i was amazed that um you know they had this idea there’s this uh animated movie called ratatouille and these people had this idea they were gonna make a musical from ratatouille as they made songs and they had scripts and they have acting in it costumes and they made a ratatouille musical on tiktok that actually became a live musical you know what what an exceptional idea what just a magnificent way that innovation finds the way it’s fine it just finds a way to bloom even if you just give it any crack it’s gonna bloom so i have a lot of optimism and hope about our children and creativity i share your concern because the problem is it’s something that really has to be adopted universally because um and and i don’t know how that could ever happen it’s almost like a united nations kind of thing because if we don’t get a handle on the the ethical and philosophical implications of technology and a.i um uh then uh you know the the weakest link could destroy the whole world really and uh and there’s been some pretty startling uh content created uh you know about that so um the problem is i don’t think that the people we have in most governments today they don’t even know what questions to ask they don’t know enough about what’s happening to even know what questions to ask so um a.i gene splicing uh there’s a there ‘s a lot of amazing ethical questions there’s a lot of positives uh synthetic content is another one where we can you know make anybody say anything um and it’s it’s not detectable as being fake um you know they’re going to be a lot of bad players that get a hold of that technology many good players are going to bring a lot of fun to that, but a lot of bad players are going to try to hurt people with that so yeah i mean we’re it’s we’re really at a crossroads when it comes to technology and philosophy and ethics and i think it’s going to come a lot faster than people realize you know it’s already happening it’s already bubbling in like kind of um non-threatening ways but you know pretty soon it’ll be well and unfortunately, it’s going to take a crisis for people to do anything about it um unfortunately that’s the way the world kind of works that you know it’s like if you look at the pandemic in america we had created all these models and to like okay here’s if we had a pandemic here is what we would have to do here are the problems and the flaws in the system and here’s what we need to do to prepare for it but we never did it because there’s no government that’s going to say well we’re going to spend a billion dollars on this and you know just in case it happens you’ve got to have the crisis right the crisis is the wake up call so unfortunately we’ve got we’ve got a number of crises ahead of us my friend uh before people take action

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