What it Means to Be a Marketing “Influence Hacker”
If we’ve had any kind of success in business, we know that sales and marketing are our lifeblood.
And while we can make a start at building a successful business by being great at sales, we’ll never maximize our business’s potential unless we’re also great at marketing.
The sad truth is, however, that most marketing is closer to garbage (in terms of intention, conception, and execution) than it is to great; and if we find that we are perpetrators of garbage marketing, this is a big problem.
It’s a problem for our businesses because resources are too precious for us to fail to maximize our return-on-investment (ROI).
It’s a problem for the people in our markets because they must endure the mediocrity that our soul-sucking marketing communications are inflicting upon them.
1. Marketing is the Problem (When It’s Soulless and Solely Self-Interested)
Whatever the nature of our businesses, the fact is that the people in our markets despise garbage marketing and associate garbage marketers with garbage products, services, and platforms.
Garbage marketing …
- litters people’s minds with information pollution,
- makes people feel worse-off than if had they never come in contact with our messaging,
- makes our audiences wish we’d go away and leave them alone,
- erodes the goodwill that people may have for our brands,
- undermines our marketing efforts and business goals, and
- wastes our capital.
These days, people are so overloaded with unwanted information that, according to a 10,000-person Aimia Institute survey, they’re doing everything that they can to tune out and block 83% of all marketing communications, which they deem to be irrelevant and annoying.¹
And while people are trying to tune us out, most of us are responding by dialing up our efforts and pushing harder to break through their resistance.
But the more we push and the harder we try, the more annoyed our audiences become, and the more we risk them feeling that our businesses have become part of the problem in their lives, rather than part of the solution.
We call this The Marketing Paradox —that the very nature of what we, as marketers, most often do to draw people in (e.g. spam the marketplace with a flood of garbage marketing communications and then play the numbers game in the hope that they’ll convert a fraction of the audience), is what eventually drives them away.
As leaders in our respective businesses, we’re ultimately responsible for growing mindshare and market share.
But unless we commit to understanding how our marketing efforts are contributing to the “information” that is polluting the minds of our audiences (and how to change that situation), our businesses will never reach their full growth potential or achieve truly sustainable success.
2. Marketing is Also the Answer (If We Choose to Be Values-Driven and to Transcend Mediocrity)
Because marketing communications are the primary source of information pollution, the solution to the information pollution problem must come, ironically, from marketers.
In this sense, The Marketing Paradox has a second, more positive aspect.
The second aspect of the paradox is that the greatest perpetrators of information pollution can, over time, become the greatest agents of positive change by dispensing with garbage marketing and commencing with great marketing.
So what is the answer? What is the “great marketing” alternative to the relentless, intrusive, disruptive, spammy, ill-received, garbage approach that most marketers follow?
The answer is to understand what people in our markets are really all about, what motivates them to care about what they care about, and what it is that we must do to become truly worthy of their interest and attention.
The answer is to develop products, services, and platforms (and the marketing communications surrounding them) that are so attractive, magnetic and compelling that they draw people’s interest and set them in motion to earnestly seek us out and consciously choose to tune us in.
The answer is to become something that the people in our markets truly care about, to such an extent that we earn a place of influence in their lives and in their businesses.
In other words, the answer to dispensing with garbage marketing and commencing with great marketing is for us to truly become the undeniable solution in our markets— and then to persuasively educate the people in our markets to both understand and buy into this reality.
When we do this, we’ll become the brand that our audiences know, trust, and love.
3. Marketing Grows Up
So what characterizes “great” marketing in the Information Age?
To understand the answer to this question, we must first keep in mind that marketing is more than communicating information about our products, services, and platforms.
It’s just as much about properly researching, designing, and crafting what it is that we offer in order to meet, spot-on, the needs that people in our markets genuinely have (whether they currently know it or not).
Only then can we be fully confident, truthful, and transparent in our efforts to persuasively educate our audiences to understand, buy into, and then act upon our value proposition.
Here’s the key insight broken into three parts. We must …
- thoroughly and correctly analyze the market opportunity,
- create and maintain a product, service or platform that demonstrably meets the real need that we’ve successfully identified (better than any available alternative), and then
- persuasively educate the people in our markets regarding how and why it really is in their best interest to buy into what we’re offering.
Here’s our thesis: If our marketing is to reach its highest potential in the Information Age, then persuasive education will become the pivot-point that maximizes our success.
But here’s the catch: For persuasive education to be effective, it must be authentic—which means it’s rooted in truth and reality.
When combined with the proper research, analysis, and execution that undergirds a substantive and relevant value proposition, we earnestly believe that mastering the art and science of marketing influence will put us in the best possible position to earn the attention and trust of our audiences.
By leveraging persuasive education to successfully hack marketing influence, winning and maintaining market-share will naturally follow.
4. Great Marketing Is Inherently Influential
We believe that great marketing in the Information Age is characterized by its ability to influence people to understand, believe in, and buy into our value propositions through marketing communications that attract, inform, and invoke.
That’s why we’re calling this the “Influence” Hacker Journal — because marketing that doesn’t positively affect (read: “influence”) what people think, feel, and do, isn’t great marketing at all.
We use the term “influence hacking” to describe the knowledge and skill-set that brings together the science of influence and the art of persuasive education with the goal of meaningful relationship building that’s based on sound, ethical principles.
The essence of being a successful Influence Hacker is to understand the science, master the art, embrace the role, and accept the responsibilities that come with being an effective, ethical influencer — a business that is truly worthy of being a trusted, reliable source of leadership and guidance as we persuasively educate the people in our markets.
We hope this article has helped better establish just how profoundly important mastering marketing influence is in terms of supporting our overarching business goals as we go to market in the Information Age.
5. Why The Influence Hacker Journal?
Our aim in publishing The Influence Hacker Journal is to help our readers (and podcast listeners) master the component principles and skills of marketing influence so that, rather than contributing to the information pollution problem, all of our marketing communications will become a welcome stimulus in the lives of our audiences, and a path towards maximum success for our businesses.
Over the past year, we’ve invested hundreds of hours preparing for the launch of this journal to ensure that it will make a unique contribution to the marketing influence conversation.
Through regular, ongoing installments (as well as through closely-related podcast episodes), the purpose of The Influence Hacker Journal (IHJ) is to expand on the thesis presented in this article so that you, our audience, can develop the insights necessary to ensure that your marketing becomes increasingly influential and your business increasingly successful.
This series will be focused on two general aspects of marketing influence that will help make all of our strategic marketing planning, design/development, and communications as successful as possible:
- The Role and Responsibilities of an Ethical Marketing Influencer
- The Science and Art of Effective Marketing Influence
The next two installments of the IHJ (002: How to Be a Marketing Hero and 003. How to Be a People Mover) will present the framework for how we will cover marketing influence in each of these two aspects.
Join us on this exciting and rewarding journey and we promise to present you with the most original, comprehensive, and impactful information available on the topic of hacking marketing influence.
These installments are written and tailored to help you properly understand and leverage principles of effective, ethical marketing in order to break through your current success-ceiling so that your business can achieve its maximum potential while genuinely meeting the real needs of the people in your market, whom you serve.
(Note: This is the first in a series of three introductory installments of the Influence Hacker Journal. Here is the second installment: How to Be a Marketing Hero. Here is the third installment: How to Be a People Mover. We would also like to announce that the Influence Hacker Podcast will premier on 10/07/2019.)
About Your Author-Hosts
We, John Lenker and Kevin deLaplante, Ph.D., have teamed up to produce this journal because we believe that, coming from such different backgrounds, we have a breadth of knowledge and experience that is unique, and we share a common vision regarding what’s missing in the marketing thought-space.
Namely, what’s missing is a deep understanding of what’s required for a business to make its marketing influential in the Information Age, and a sensitivity to the responsibilities that come with being influential — what it means to influence with responsibility and integrity.
John Lenker is the founder and CEO of the marketing firm, LENKER. He’s spent the past 20+ years helping small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, and cultural institutions maximize their success.
He’s been the recipient of several awards by organizations such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts, The Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, Communication Arts Magazine, and The United Nations.
His mission is to help guide businesses to formulate and implement smart marketing plans that achieve their overarching business goals.
Dr. Kevin deLaplante is LENKER’s Chief Knowledge Officer, but he’s spent most of the past twenty years working at Iowa State University in the Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies and served as department chair.
He left academia a few years ago to become an independent educator and consultant with the goal of helping people and organizations improve their critical thinking and communication skills.
He also produces The Argument Ninja podcast, where he discusses a wide range of topics relating to critical thinking and the psychology of persuasion.
¹ Macgregor-Chatwin, Elle. “Irrelevant Marketing from Brands Gives Rise to the ‘Deletist Consumer’.” Aimia Inc., 3 Nov. 2015, www.aimia.com/newsroom/news-releases/irrelevant-marketing-from-brands-gives-rise-to-the-deletist-consumer/.