When I was in grade school, my grandmother taught my friends and me how to play the card game Bullshit. If you have never played before, it consists of trying to convince other players that you’re discarding cards you may or may not actually be playing in an effort to get rid of all of your cards. For example, I could lay down two cards and tell everyone I’m playing two aces when in reality I’m playing a jack and a seven. If the other players don’t believe you, they call bullshit. If they’re right, you have to pick up the entire pile of cards that has been discarded (and be at a significant disadvantage for winning the game). Bullshit became one of my favorite games, and I ended up getting really good at it. So did my friends – it seemed the more we played together, the better we got at knowing when someone was being honest or playing bogus cards. As time went on, if we wanted to win… we had to change our game and strategy.

Fast-forward twenty years, and the world of marketing looks a lot like my favorite childhood game of cards. Gone are the days when a company or brand’s message is taken by consumers at face value. Consumers have gotten smarter. They’re doing research. They’re listening to what other consumers have to say. They’re no longer sold on products by a catchy jingle, a pretty picture or the brand’s messaging alone. They’ve become bullshit proof. So if marketers want to stay relevant and keep their brands top of mind, they have to be willing to adjust their strategy and change their game.

Getting through to consumers who’ve become bullshit proof may seem extremely challenging – especially if you’re used to relying on the same old strategies, tactics and marketing mix you’ve always used. Here are some ideas that help will help you reach your consumers in new ways that they’ll actually hear:

Activate consumer influencers and advocates.

If consumers won’t always listen to what a brand has to say, get the people talking that they will listen to. FYI, that’s the people they know such as their family, friends, coworkers, etc. According to Nielson, 84 percent of people report that recommendations from friends and family have prompted action and 70 percent report taking action from consumer opinions posted online. Scale this impact by activating an influencer/advocacy program – tapping into these key consumers to drive awareness and consumer action on your brand’s behalf can have a big impact. You can leverage this powerful consumer group either by finding your existing biggest advocates or engaging new consumers to try your brand via an exclusive brand experience for the first time in exchange for their honest review or recommendation. If activated correctly, influencers and advocates can drive thousands of reviews, millions of earned media impressions, and help increase your bottom line in a big way. Check out some of our case studies to see what we mean.

Be Authentic.

Regardless of which marketing platform you’re utilizing, it’s important to be authentic. If not, consumers see right through the bullshit. This is equally true when activating a consumer influencer strategy. You can help influencers understand your brand benefits by explaining features, providing how to’s, and more, but after that, you need to let the consumer have an experience with your brand. Enable them to tell a real story and share an authentic review through their testimonials, photos, and videos. For example, if you say you have a delicious cheese, give them some recipes to try it in or include directions on creating the perfect appetizer platter they could present during an upcoming gathering or party. If you just developed a new form of your vitamin that’s now both easy to consume and delicious, allow consumers to actually try the new form so they can describe what it tasted like to them. This is the really fun part of influencer activation. Coming up with all the different ways they can experience and SHARE your brand with others is a great opportunity for your brand.

ACCESS and USE the user-generated content.

When you activate an influencer or advocacy program, make sure you do it on a platform where you get access and ownership of all the great content that’s being generated. Because, after you’ve engaged these influencers and given them unique ways to share authentic content, there’s going to be a wealth of content that’s really hard to get anywhere else. Now you’ve created a program and used a platform that give you access to all the content… make sure you use it. Share it on Facebook, integrate it into your advertising, and post it on your blog. Don’t be afraid to put it out there! If the first best thing is having consumers do all the talking for you, then the next best thing has to be the brand sharing what those real consumers have to say.

There! Now you have it. Keep your brand relevant during a time when consumers have become bullshit proof by activating influencers, being authentic, and utilizing user-generated content. You can still win the game – you just have to use a new strategy [that works].

Need help getting started with influencer marketing? Or, want to learn how to play the card game Bullshit? We’re happy to help! Send a note to [email protected].

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