By Becky Tumidolsky
Divorce rates in the U.S. are sobering. As is widely reported, roughly half of all marriages fail. Thousands per day, in fact, with one new split occurring every 13 seconds. (If you really want to punish yourself, you can find a mountain of related statistics here.)
Quick! Let’s flip the discussion. Since the glass is still half full, I’d like to offer a taste of what’s in it—that magic brew that keeps the other 50 percent of married couples happy and strong. As a B2B marketing content writer who considers herself an “audience advocate,” I believe marketers could learn a thing or two from couples who know how to make marriage last.
Why Audiences Become Disenchanted
“Think of times when you felt emotionally connected to your partner. Communication was not a chore that required techniques, strategies, precision timing, or careful word choice. You were interested in him or her.”—Steven Stosny, Ph.D.
Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. Steven Stosny argues that communication in a healthy marriage is an outgrowth of a solid emotional connection, rather than a means to creating one. When the emotional connection between marriage partners is lost, communication seems unnatural and openly manipulative—turning partners off and triggering their defenses.
Is it any wonder, then, why audiences reject marketing content that seems forced, mechanical, self-serving, or tone deaf?
Here are some of the ways marketers, like spouses, fall short of the ideal.
- Marketers are self-absorbed. “We’re experts in our field, we’ve enjoyed raging market success, and you should feel honored to give us your business.” This tone doesn’t exactly warm the cockles. Yet it’s the trap many marketers set for themselves. They write content that reflects their self-image without considering how it might be received.
- Marketers don’t make time to communicate. They get busy with their core business and put audience relations on the back burner. It happens to all of us now and then. Over time, however, audiences may stray; from a competitive standpoint, it’s exceedingly hard to recoup that loss.
- Marketers’ expectations are unrealistic. As Huffington Post contributor Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D. suggests, “You can’t spend your time calculating ’50 percent in, 50 percent back.’ The attitude has to be one of giving freely.” When it comes to content creation, marketers must be 100 percent committed to the effort. If they aren’t, nothing will convince audiences to meet them halfway. (The Beatles sang it beautifully: “In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”)
To Reconnect and Rekindle, Keep the Focus Where It Belongs
“In 2007, researchers from Arizona State University asked married partners…whether they appreciated the chores done by the other person. While most said they felt gratitude, many hadn’t relayed these feelings to their partners, assuming ‘he or she just knows’…. [I]ndividuals who felt appreciated by their partners had…more satisfaction with their relationships.” (livescience.com)
That’s really the heart of the matter, isn’t it? Taking audiences for granted, neglecting their needs, treating them like subordinates—nothing kills relationships faster. Here’s what marketers must do to ensure audiences feel appreciated, respected, and loved.
- Be your audiences’ biggest champion. Commit to serving them. Show concern for their feelings, peeves, hang-ups, desires. Offer them practical solutions and encouragement in support of their goals. Make them feel valued and special. (In academic parlance, this is known as “affective affirmation.”)
- Give them the attention they demand. “Respond positively to ‘bids for attention,’” advises Dr. Michelle Gannon, psychologist and relationship guru. Make the effort to listen to, understand, and acknowledge their input. Think of content in terms of a running dialogue, not a static presentation.
- Spark some interest and excitement. “Change up your routine,” says psychologist Terri Orbuch, Ph.D. Try a new angle, and have fun doing it. Keep audiences interested and engaged, and maybe they’ll look at you in entirely new ways.
Since 2001, Becky Tumidolsky has written awareness-building content for B2B brands and their discerning audiences. Her work has appeared in leading publications such as Forbes, U.S.News & World Report, Bloomberg Markets, Newsweek, and Inc. as well as corporate blogs, websites, white papers, and other content assets.
Becky loves writing fluid, error-free prose. She’s even more passionate about building the foundation for her work—uncovering core brand distinctions, framing them thematically, and developing fresh, compelling narratives that advance corporate strategies.