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No Connection, We Turn Backs, You Don’t Sell


To stand any chance of someone buying into you, there has to be a connection to the very heart of what you believe in.

This advert has its origins in the Pepsi advert. I apologise, it has become the easiest marketing bandwagon to jump on in 2017. However, there is something central to the core that relates back to us all.

I know there are many articles on why it nosedived and the ‘lessons learnt from the Pepsi ad’ angle, but on reflection, it all comes back to having a product and approach that is believable for someone else to connect with.

Whilst Coca Cola created harmony in 1971 with their, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke,’ it was the flipside of kinship in 2017. Whilst one was from a clifftop of faces of different colours, shapes and ethnicities, the other was from a city of unrest where a can acts as a protest peace offering. A privileged reality TV star became the beacon for a generation in which the resistance was strong, but from a brand who has never stood for rebellion.


With the advert lifted and wiped off the face of YouTube, it comes back to a simple premise of being real and making a connection with your audience.

What makes things strange is that Pepsi introduced their new content creation studio in 2016 where PepsiCo president Brad Jakeman stated that their aim was to, ‘foster deeper connections with consumers.” Their latest effort couldn’t be further from the truth.

When you get found out for being false and going way off the mark for who you are, you are castigated.

This also happened in February when Waterstones were criticised for opening three high street shops that had the appearance of small independent bookstores that had no branding or link to the shops origins. If Waterstones had been upfront then the damage could have been a lot less. Again, if you try to pass yourself off as something that you are not, your whole business looks dishonest.

Both Waterstones and Pepsi represent companies whose stories just didn’t connect, so people turned their backs.

To enable others to want to buy from you, you have to connect in a way that is believable.

Take for instance, the activity from Red Bull. Everything they do is by associating themselves with fearless people, teams and events. The owned media approach is seen from taking control of sports teams ie. New York Red Bulls, RB Leipzig (in the German Bundasliga); owning a TV channel, annual soapbox race and events that they can call their own. The connection to Red Bull is one thrill seeking, entertaining 100 mile an hour, rollercoaster ride of adrenalin. Everything connects (something that Pepsi haven’t done).

How can you become part of someone else’s life that goes beyond the products you sell?

One of the problems that we all face is how we use social to self promote and use as an advertising channel rather than a place of actually being social with each other on a deeper level. IPG Megabrands-owned agency UM, released their ninth ‘Wave’ global social tracking survey in February. The survey was conducted amongst 52,000 people in 78 countries.

When compared to seven years ago, people are now 40% less likely to see social networks as a place for fun and entertainment. People are also 30% more likely to see them as spaces to promote themselves. There is so much content, that we are now editing to be heard and acknowledged. Sleeves rolled up, this is serious business, balls to connection, lets promote!

Almost 50% agreed with the statement, ‘I feel overwhelmed by the volume of things available to me online.’ Whether we represent brands or individuals online, there is acknowledgment that we are in the equivalent of the swimming pool with a wave machine and someone has just pressed the ‘on’ button so everyone swims to the red boundary so they get the full force of the wave.

The magnet is forcing people to feel the benefit with everyone else in exactly the same space, rather than looking to control the waves in a more natural way.

The reward is there for companies who can be on the same wavelength with others, as opposed to competing at the same swimming gala.

Looking at the mistakes from the big brands, it can help us make sense of how we build a rapport and an audience who are willing to stick with us, and they know exactly what it is that we stand for.

Whilst marketing goals are driven by numbers and showing an increase of X against Y, lets make things even easier. From the #epicfails shown by others, the biggest goal for a business today in an attention saturated world is centred on something far simpler. Find an audience where you are recognised as interesting, compelling where connectivity becomes the glue that ensures people don’t drift away.

There are an abundance of paths and channels to reach your audience and to recognise what they want and your responsibility to provide and deliver. When you can deliver, other people will help share your message. This all comes back to being real, rather than the quickest route to being ignored.

You have to live what you believe in and become comfortable with it.

This is what AirBnB did in November 2016 by introducing their community guidelines. It was a way to connect a shared ethos as well as a declaration of zero tolerance. It is also a way for a company to unify others behind a belief where a sense of belonging is created. This is seen on the AirBnB blog where the whole approach is based on sharing and encouraging to discover and utilise a space for other people to participate within.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What are the reasons for people to want to get to know you and your business a bit better? What is the one word that you stand for, click here to read more on finding this and uncovering the power of a direct relationship.


  • Can persistence be something that you can attach to and over time people will share your message?


  • Can you continually build, that no matter what offer or new extension to a Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn service you have people who will stick on your side as you have built a bank of goodwill and truth?


  • How can trust be built over time? Is it by longevity? Is it just by showing up? Is it giving your own stamp on things? No one ever built trust by taking a, ‘it’s all about me’ approach.


  • How can you earn connectivity with others? No one linked on an emotional level by thinking they can produce that one heavy paid for Facebook ad and watch people form an orderly queue. There has to be ways to get behind that ad and bring a real person to the front.


  • Are there ways you can take things on one to one, more emotional level? While you think you need to appeal to many with the click of a ‘send’ on Mailchimp, there are times to speak to one.


  • Can you create for some and not for everyone? When you focus on those where you have the ability to connect, it provides greater reason for them to share your story.

Having something to connect with, is about being real, not pushing a product to others via the beautiful people. People don’t want something that is impersonal, they want to know that the money they spend with you has a sense of purpose to it.

The ways that we stand out is to find those bonds that connect us to others. Whether that is to entertain, be on a level with someone else or come from a place of authority, the time that someone spends with you, has to leave them saying, ‘I get it.’

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