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Stop Talking About You-Talk About Them

Just about everyone has seen the sign standing in front of McDonald's restaurants. Those carefully hung letters have, seemingly forever, read something like: "Over 6 billion served."

If you've ever tried to sell a house and solicited the services of a real estate agent, you've perhaps run into something similar. So many real estate agents' business card will read something like: "$10 million sold last year."

Supporters of these marketing messages might argue, "That's the way it's always been done." But in this day and age of content marketing, these sorts of "humble-brags" seem pretty irrelevant.

What, for example, are you going to get out of a hamburger just because 6 billion other people have eaten one? If you're selling your house, probably your biggest investment, what does it matter that your potential listing agent has sold X millions worth of homes? All that really matter is how are you going to make ME feel?

In this era of content marketing, will bragging about your accomplishments have any impact on the prospect who's considering your goods or services? In so many ways, people already feel like a number, a mere statistic, so does anyone looking for a burger care if they are the six-billionth and one served?

It's human nature to ask "What's in it for me." Knowing 6 billion other people have bought that burger doesn't answer that question. In all fairness to Ray Kroc and others, there was probably a time when the limited space on a restaurant sign relegated marketing to few characters, and bragging about how many other burgers they served might have made sense, space-wise, if for no other reason.

But these days, you have more characters available to you on Twitter. You can explain much more than you could have on a fast-food sign. And if you're a marketer with space available, why are you still making it about you?

Content marketing, which is how consumers now expect to be marketed to, allows businesses the luxury to explain how their product or service can make that prospect's life better. And that's the heart of marketing, right? If you want to sell someone something, just tell them why your product or service makes the prospect's life better.

That tenet is why, back in the day, people went door-to-door selling vacuum cleaners. They got in front of the housewife who spent part of every day trying to clean her home and explained why the thing they were selling would help her do that. Do you think that housewife, looking to make her house cleaner in the easiest way possible, cared how many other vacuum cleaners you sold to however many other people? What she cared about was how your vacuum cleaner would affect her and how you proposed to make her life easier.

At it’s core, marketing does not change much, but it's easier for marketers today. It's still about that housewife and how your vacuum cleaner can improve her life. Today, however, marketers don't have to go door-to-door. They can email, or go on social media, and have more room than there is on a McDonald's sign to explain why what they are selling will improve the lives of those to whom they're selling it.

Yet, with all that leeway, so many marketers still make it about them. They still "humble-brag," putting the focus on themselves by using the number of burgers or houses sold as the reason their prospects should choose them.

Marketers today have more resources at their disposal than their predecessors did and far more opportunities than ever before. There is no reason for them to continue making the sale about them and not about the prospect. Take the focus off of you, and put it on them instead.

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