Stop Kanye’ing Your Audience

Since the early 2000s, we have known people don’t like pop-ups … yet they’re still being used. “I know you’re trying to leave my site, but HEY! Look at this!” “Don’t go! Here’s more stuff you don’t want!” Or the pop-ups appear before you even see the content you thought you wanted to see.

Since the early 2000s, we have known people don’t like pop-ups … yet they’re still being used.

“I know you’re trying to leave my site, but HEY! Look at this!”

“Don’t go! Here’s more stuff you don’t want!”

Or the pop-ups appear before you even see the content you thought you wanted to see.

Stop Kanye'ing Your Audience
Slide image courtesy of Wil Reynolds and C3 (it’s so perfect).

Say what?

The request to “stop Kanye’ing your audience” was one of the many things Wil Reynolds of SEER Interactive asked of his audience during the keynote, “The Ranking Farce — and What You Should Do About It” on Day 1 of C3, hosted by Conductor on Oct. 28-29.

What does he mean? Well, remember what happened during the 2009 MTV Music Awards? Taylor Swift won for the Best Female Video, and during her acceptance speech, Kanye came up on the stage and said:

“Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time … one of the best videos of all time!”

He took the mic out of her hand, made his statement, then MTV cut to commercial. Ms. Swift did not get to finish (though when Beyonce won for Video of the Year, she did invite Taylor up to finish her acceptance).

Marketers are doing this, and not just with pop-ups. Many are more concerned with telling the customers what they need and how they should buy it, instead of listening and just letting them finish.

Wil explained that customers are interested in experiences that “Make me a better me.” “People don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves …”

Making Customers Better SelvesBut marketers Kanye their customers there, too. The focus stops short on the product, or the No. 1 ranking on a search engine results page (SERP). But as the slide above shows, your business isn’t selling your product, it’s selling the experience your product gives the customer to be better.

A great example Wil gave was how Serious Eats’ guide to grilling steaks improved his steak grilling game, made him smarter about steak cuts, techniques, etc., and helped him impress friends and family. So, when the site showed products from affiliates — like a grill or charcoal chimney — he wasn’t put off by it because Serious Eats had already earned his trust.

“Content levels me up,” he explained

So ask yourself: Is your content leveling people up? Or are you Kanye’ing them with pop-ups they don’t want, sales pushes they don’t need and no content that helps them be the best version of themselves.

Because if you are, another marketer is going to be the Beyonce to your Taylor Swift customer.

Do yourself a favor: The awesome folks at Conductor have made the C3 keynote videos available, so check out Wil’s right here:

And I dare you to not get a little marketing crush on him and his mad presentation skills.

Author: Melissa Ward

Melissa Ward is the managing editor for Target Marketing, and she has opinions! More importantly, she's a nerd for great copy and design, a disciple of authenticity, and really loves it when marketers get it right.

9 thoughts on “Stop Kanye’ing Your Audience”

    1. Actually, to split hairs, that’s a prestitial ad. Those only show up about once a week, depending on cookies and such. There are other sites that will deliver constant pop-ups from page to page, and it’s mind-numbing.

      Thanks for commenting!!!

  1. Yes! “People don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves …” This is what we need to learn/put into better practice in higher education (where I work). It’s why for-profit companies are crushing public universities — they sell experiences, we still sell programs.

    1. Do you think there’s a way to sell the experiences a bit more? I feel like higher education is the PERFECT place to do this! I think it should be easy to focus on “You the student,” but then again, I’m not in the thick of things like you are.

      1. Hi Melissa,

        I apologize that I didn’t see this sooner! The short answer is, you’d think so, right? We absolutely need to do a better job of selling experiences. Most schools (at least in the post-baccalaureate field) seem to focus on all the cool things about themselves (features and benefits) and not much on what that means for the student(s). There appears to be a legacy academic mindset (in state ed, anyway) that if it’s there the students will come–and aren’t they lucky?

        I don’t know if you’ve seen the University of Phoenix commercial with the single mother and teenage daughter (it’s a montage of the teen saying “night, mom” and then mom getting on the computer to work). It’s a powerful story about experience: this woman is clearly changing her life. You can infer during the brief span of the commercial that she is single, that she is working hard to do everything she can for her daughter, that her daughter is proud. More of us should be looking at telling the story of how education is life changing and aspirational!

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