“People” isn’t a marketing term to be used lightly. It’s easy to get caught up in the quarterly dashboards, automation platforms, content calendars, and targeting tools, but you can’t forget that at the other end of all those assets are real people with real interests, struggles, and desires.
That’s why, when the 2018 installment of the annual Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report came out, we went looking in search of one thing: “people.”
The 294-page report covers everything from smartphone usage to ecommerce growth to online video distribution. But among all of these findings, we were surprised to find that there are only 15 uses of the word “people.” And 11 of those are negligible for our mission:
– 9 are in footnotes disclosing survey methodology.
– 1 is in the introduction thanking people who helped on the report.
– 1 is used to convey the overall labor force participation rate in the US.
That leaves us with three mentions of the word “people” pertaining to marketing in the body of the report.
Let’s take a look.
1. Facebook connects people but harms with data breach.
Embedded in a section about data privacy on page 34 is this quote from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in April 2018:
“We’re an idealistic and optimistic company. For the first decade, we really focused on all the good that connecting people brings. But it’s clear now that we [Facebook] didn’t do enough. We didn’t focus enough on preventing abuse and thinking through how people could use these tools to do harm as well.”
The takeaway: It’s important to understand how the tools we use affect real people. For instance, even if those tools may be beneficial to marketers, they could be harming the people you’re trying to reach. The fake news and Cambridge Analytica scandals surrounding Facebook brought this lesson to light in the past year.
2. EU gives people control over their own data.
On the next page of Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report, we have this quote from a Bloomberg op-ed in May 2018:
“This month, the European Union will embark on an expansive effort to give people more control over their data online … As it comes into force, Europe should be mindful of unintended consequences and open to change when things go wrong.”
The takeaway: Transparency in advertising and marketing is more crucial than ever. The Cambridge Analytica scandal unearthed strong concerns about data privacy and usage. People want to know that they can trust the companies they’re giving their data to – and buying from.
3. Slack pulls people in with user-friendly software.
Over 230 pages later, we see our next mention in a section about how enterprise software usage and usability are improving. It comes in a 2013 quote from Slack founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield:
“When you want something really bad, you will put up with a lot of flaws. But if you do not yet know you want something, your tolerance will be much lower. That’s why it is especially important for us to build a beautiful, elegant, and considerate piece of software. Every bit of grace, refinement, and thoughtfulness on our part will pull people along. Every petty irritation will stop them and give the impression that it is not worth it.”
The takeaway: Build something that’s tailor-made for your audience. You can use all of the buzzwords and trendy strategies you want, but if the experience you’re providing isn’t friendly for the user, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
A people-based marketing approach.
It seems that the most noteworthy conversations about people are happening around data, privacy, and usability. Pointing out these few mentions isn’t a criticism of Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report, but rather a stark reminder that marketers should always keep people at the forefront of their strategies – such as by delivering more personalized marketing offers and content, intuitive experiences, and transparent messaging.
Yes, people can get lost in the spreadsheets and quarterly updates. But when it comes down to it, the only way to improve those spreadsheets and quarterly updates is to engage real people: Be transparent, build trust, and create experiences that are intuitive and user-friendly for the very people you’re trying to reach.
Not sure if you’re doing People-Based Marketing right? Read 3 Ways You Might Be Screwing Up People-Based Marketing.