World’s biggest advertiser announces, “It’s not about telling and selling…It’s about engaging.”

I often harp about how, in this age of 24/7 ‘pull’ access to information, businesses need to be providing a steady stream of articles to capture prospects and turn them into customers. The internet is about information, not blatant advertising.

By harnessing your news, and the power of RSS, it’s never been easier to develop long-term customer relationships. Simply hoping to hit a conversion rate of every visitor doesn’t seem like an adequate long-term strategy.

The widespread evolution of websites, into portals of news and information, is still going to take some time. Businesses are dragging their feet, waiting for the metrics to appear to justify the ongoing investment, and for everybody else to test the water first. It’s still not even widely accepted that greater engagement translates into more sales.

So whilst I wait for awareness of the engagement philosophy to spread, it’s always heartening when one of the world’s biggest advertisers seems to agree with its principles.

I was alerted, by The Marketing Blog, to a speech at last week’s 4A conference by Proctor & Gamble’s CMO, Jim Stengal. In a typically headline grabbing oration, he declared that marketing is no longer “about telling and selling…It’s not about new media models or new tools. It’s about engaging with people in a two way relationship.”

It was in 2004 that Stengal first announced that, “The traditional marketing model is obsolete.” His latest speech further builds on this theme. He spoke about how it was not just that the tools that had changed, but also the mindsets that they were trying to penetrate.

The steady bombardment of marketing messages has created a mindset resistant to being sold to. Fifty years of one way advertising has developed a low trust world. Consumers are now demanding honesty and transparency from their brands, and an end to one way sales spiel.

Stengal’s answer to marketing’s quandary is that P&G has to focus on garnering relationships and becoming a ‘generous brand’. He believes it is the generous brands who will be the winners because they win consumers’ trust by offering something of value without demanding immediate payback.

For P&G this has meant creating interactive websites that are entertaining, informative and of value to their audience. By encouraging people to spend more time engaging with their brands, P&G can develop a positive association, and seduce them into buying their products.

Any business can adopt the same philosophy. By providing a downloadable white paper, monthly newsletter or an informative blog, you can become a ‘generous brand’.

“It takes courage. It takes conviction. It takes stepping out of the comfort zone and eliminating barriers with your consumers.” – Stengal, 4A Conf 2007.

When the world’s biggest advertiser announces, “It’s not about telling and selling,” there is an obvious mind shift taking place amongst consumers. In our low trust world, effective marketing is about developing relationships built on trust and confidence. And there is no better way of developing such relationships than by becoming a ‘generous brand’ and showering your prospects with news and information of value.

5 thoughts on “World’s biggest advertiser announces, “It’s not about telling and selling…It’s about engaging.”

  1. Matt,

    I learned early on from some sage advice: “Telling isn’t selling. Never was, never will be.”


  2. Wise advice indeed Walter.

    Telling certainly isn’t selling. Any salesman worth his salt knows that effective selling is about relationships and education. Exactly what informative, two way dialogue should instigate.


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