Everyone wants to become a “better” version of themselves, in one way or another. This can take many different forms.
Some of us want to become kinder or more ethical. Others want to be more productive at work. And for many people, fitness and weight loss are goals they're always chasing after.
These aspirations are powerful psychological factors in people's lives and minds. For marketers, appealing to those aspirations can be the key to striking the right chord with someone and influencing them to make a purchase decision.
A lot of advertising has long taken a negative approach to aspiration. Most of the 20th century was characterized by what you'd call “inadequacy marketing” — making people feel like something about themselves is inadequate, and convincing them that your product can make them a better person.
Marketing for beauty products, like cosmetics, focused on perceived flaws. A lot of marketing aimed at men implied that the product would make them more masculine and virile.
Today, there's been an ongoing paradigm shift in the way that marketing approaches aspiration.
Instead of taking a negativistic approach that focuses on making people feel inadequate, brands are increasingly using language and imagery that center on empowerment instead.
They focus on the positive.
It's not that you're inadequate, and you need this ab workout video to fix your shameful flaws and redeem yourself in the eyes of your peers. Instead, this ab workout video will empower you to be stronger, healthier, and more attractive.
See the difference?
In a recent article from Copyblogger, the website's founder, Brian Clark, talks about how creating a sense of empowerment can enhance your brand's influence over your audience's purchasing decisions.
If you know what a prospect aspires to become, then your product or service and your marketing must empower that person to become a better version of themselves. If you fail across that spectrum, you’ll lose out to a competitor who delivers.
The 20th century was fueled by inadequacy marketing that encouraged material accumulation. Without access to alternative perspectives, people were targeted by marketers with messages that positioned the brand as the hero, promising to save the poor prospect from the anxiety manufactured by the message.
If your neighbor had a new Buick, you were now made to feel lesser in terms of social status. Why not upgrade to a Cadillac and take the lead?
Effective modern marketing flips that approach on its head. Rather than appealing to materialism or base self-interest, people are looking for positive inspiration and pragmatic guidance on how to become their best selves.
Pair that with the fact that the internet in general (and social media in particular) have helped erode trust in traditional institutions, while shifting power to engaging individuals. The appeal of attracting influencers with strong personal brands reflects this trend — people want to be empowered by other people, not faceless corporations.
Why not also put a human face on your own company? Again, what’s going to get an influencer excited about pimping your stuff, if your brand is uninspired to begin with?
This can be as easy as flipping your perceived role as a marketer. Whether you want to think of yourself as a guide, mentor, or coach, it’s your job to empower the buyer’s otherwise self-directed journey.
In an environment ripe with information and choices, the prospect is in charge. And while they may not look like a hero yet, they’re definitely the protagonist of their own story.
That means they’ll follow and choose to do business with the brand that empowers them to achieve their heroic aspirations. Outside influencers can help, but only as long as you’re also developing direct influence within your market in a meaningful way that establishes that you’re a player.
There's a lot of power in making people feel good about themselves, and today, brands of all sizes are realizing that empowerment is a lot more effective than trying to create a sense of inadequacy.
For entrepreneurs, this can be a powerful factor in your own digital marketing strategy. Helping your audience feel sense of agency, independence, and self-direction can give your brand a genuine resonance with people, on a deep psychological level. This is what sets the world's biggest brands apart.
You can learn more about influential digital marketing from our friends over at Copyblogger.
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