In recent weeks, I’ve read countless articles that review aspects of 2009: the best films of the year, the top political stories, the biggest branding debacles, and financial lessons learned in the last 12 months to name a few. Rather than continue this trend of looking at the past, I’d rather look ahead at what the coming year has in store or us, particularly in the world of advertising.
As we enter a new decade, many of the traditional advertising vehicles and methods are woefully outdated, and everyone, from small businesses to multi-national corporations, is looking for the “silver bullet” to reach their audiences. In 2010, that silver bullet will be “empathetic advertising.”
But what is empathetic advertising? Simply put, it is establishing and developing relationships with an audience based upon sincere and authentic beliefs, interests and viewpoint.
And why is empathetic advertising the silver bullet for 2010? The answer: authenticity
Authenticity is the secret sauce in today’s world, whether in politics, sports, art – whatever makes up our daily lives – including advertising. We are all looking for the “real thing” in everything. The truth. The genuine. The trustworthy. And today, most of us have evolved to the point where we can smell fraud, deceit and lies from a mile away, with our youth, in their utter innocence, being the greatest “bs detectors” of us all.
“Don’t you dare try to shove products down our throats. Instead, tell us what you like, what you dislike, what you enjoy and what you dread. Tell us what bands inspire you, what films move you and what products work for you. Once you do that, if I find I like the same things as you, or if I’ve had similar experiences as you, then I will listen to you. If we are on the same page, with the same interests, beliefs and experiences, then we instantly have a relationship. We have a genuine rapport. You want to advertise to me? Find me where I am at, find me in a place of engagement of my interest. And if you believe what I believe with sincerity, then talk to me. If you don’t, then don’t bother. Tell me how your product fits with my interests. That is the heart of empathetic advertising.
If you have a green product and I have green interests, then it is ok to talk to me, to show me what you have and how it benefits my life. If you do, I will welcome you into my life, find out what you are about as a company and what the essence of your products or services purport.”
It is through this authenticity that we can reach the youth and all audiences that yearn for a dialogue, a connection. If we can honor their request, then, and only then, is it ok to talk to them, empathize with them, and share with them. Then we and they will bond and move forward, advancing each other’s interests.
This is the key for success in 2010 and for many years to come.