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  • Writer's pictureMichael Arnold

Why People Don’t Care about Your Brand—but They Still Care about You

When the modern science of analytics started to influence the way we market brands, something went dark in the soul of advertising. Finally businesses had the technology to reach their exact target human being, and that’s when it somehow became appropriate to tap that person on the forehead and demand her attention.

It doesn’t matter what she was doing at the time—she fit the demographic, and so she got tapped. She wasn’t asked if she was interested.

How is it possible that this is somehow okay?

In an effusion of misplaced enthusiasm, brands no longer just position themselves politely in a popular place and invite people to come take a look. They pop out, interrupt, light up, send an alert, nudge and poke and flicker their way in front of consumer eyeballs. The customer’s attention (whether welcome or not) is the only currency that matters when the numbers are crunched—and businesses crave that attention, truly convinced they have something important to share.

It’s a little desperate. It’s like leaping out in front of someone you want to date and presuming she’ll just fall into your arms. Isn’t that just… creepy?

Marketers who think in terms of analytics and KPIs have forgotten the fundamentals of human interaction. People only give you their attention when they care about you. If you demand people’s attention without first asking if they want to give you a moment of their time, you’re being rude at best, and run the risk of being an unwelcome intrusion.

I get it. Working on a great brand is energising and immensely rewarding. It’s easy for businesses to get so excited about the products and services they’ve been sitting up late at night developing, refining and honing to perfection. It’s so tempting to slip into a fantasy that customers are going to share that energy the moment they see your messaging. You love it, why shouldn’t they?

That’s the problem right there. People aren’t going to care about what you do at work unless they care about you first. But here’s the good news—there’s every chance they will care about you if you’re prepared to share a little about yourself first.

People are into people. Humans are attracted by human stories, and they care about those stories on a very deep level. We don’t care about brands, unless they’re connected to human issues that really concern us—what we believe, how we see ourselves. What concerns us more than anything else is other people.

I know this pretty well. I write biographies—books and articles—so I’m all about human stories about how people grow, what they’ve done and what it all means to them. I can tell you for certain that if I wasn’t into a businessperson’s brand before they started telling me their story, I was super into it by the time they were done. The same goes for brands created by people whose biographies I’ve read that were written by other people. You’ll never have a more devoted fan of your brand than someone who knows who you really are.

Following the coronavirus pandemic, brands are going to have to try a bit harder. Humanity is hurting right now. We need to focus on things that mean something to us, and we couldn’t care less how hyped you are about your brand at this point in time. Seriously, don’t bug us about your new features, your discounts, your next big thing. Don’t treat us like a demographic. We’re human here. Tell us something that matters.

Tell us about you. You matter.

Every good company has that one person whose personal story of struggle, insight and determination got that business off the ground. Who is that person, and what’s their story? Share that person’s journey. Let people care about the human first, and care for the product will follow. When we know a person’s past, dreams, trials and milestones, that changes how we feel about anything they have to say.

The best thing a human being can do for their brand right now is to stand in front of it.

Sharing the story of a human brand representative in book form is the most powerful way to earn the respect, admiration, care and attention of your customers. Make a commitment to setting out your personal experiences in story form, get it expertly authored and published, and you’ll have a permanent platform for engaging genuine human care about what you’re doing in business. People couldn’t care less if you’re just showing off your brand, but if you’re sharing your personal story in a book, they’re going to care about you. Then they’ll care about your brand.

If you want me to consider being your customer and you’ve shared your story with me, then we’re good. I know who you are, and that makes you important to me. You want a moment of my attention? Absolutely. You’re welcome to it.

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