With Carlos Gil, Marketing Strategist, Speaker, and Author of The End Of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand In The Age Of Social Media and AI
To get a look at the changing face of marketing, Steve spoke with Carlos Gil, a marketing strategist who has been a consultant for many Fortune 500 companies, teaching them the new way of marketing, as outlined in his book, The End Of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand In The Age Of Social Media and AI. Carlos gave listeners the keys to mastering the new way of marketing online.
The Online World Takes Over Marketing
Carlos stated, “We live in two parallel universes. There’s the real world and then there’s online world, and there’s so much power by tapping into the online world.” In his opinion, the old way of marketing primarily through commercials is dead. The online world—specifically, social media—is the place where brands rise or fall. Marketing is now about building relationships and gaining advocates in social media who will advance your brand. “The reality is that today you can become influential by just using a cell phone and a social media account and posting the right mix of content and building a following.” This has led to a rise in individual entrepreneurs building a business online because they have essentially the same access to consumers that large companies do.
Content Versus Engagement
When Carlos does marketing consulting for businesses, one of the main points he tries to stress is that it’s not about advertising your products; it’s about building relationships with customers. He disagrees with the idea that “content is king.” In Carlos’ view, engagement is king. “People trust people, people buy from people.” In his book, he advises businesses to stop focusing on their own content so much and instead to look at the content that potential customers are posting about them.
To clarify Carlos’ ideas, Steve noted, “This is vitally important because I think everyone starts off with the original thinking that the first thing you want to do is get a logo. You want to build your brand, whether it’s your personal brand or a company brand. And from what you’re saying, it sounds to me like that has dissipated to a great degree, and a logo, a brand, are less important.” Carlos agreed with that assessment. Just having a great looking logo and website doesn’t cut it anymore in a world where one guy on YouTube can pull in more daily attention than Nike and Coca-Cola combined.
Understanding How To Use Social Media
So, how should a business or individual entrepreneur approach this new world of marketing founded largely on social media relationships? According to Carlos, one of the main problems for many businesses trying to create a social media presence is that they mistakenly think it’s all about getting “likes” and followers. But Carlos says, “I would rather have 10 people who consistently advocate for my company online every single time I post, as opposed to having thousands of followers who do nothing.” That’s what really builds a brand, brings in new customers, and creates customer loyalty these days. And that’s why the first thing he tells clients is to start listening to and engaging with the people online who are actually talking about their company or products.
As an example, Carlos referred to a recent client he had. He discovered that the client (which was actually a retail store rather than an online business) had an astounding 24,000 mentions on Instagram. He immediately brought this to the CEO’s attention, informing him, “You’ve got 24,000 pieces of content promoting your company that no one at your company has ever engaged with.”
One of the main messages in his book is that “We need to go back to the basics, which is building relationships and truly humanizing your brand through people first, not products or services.”
Steve asked Carlos to elaborate a bit, explaining just how, say, a small business owner can go about engaging consumers through social media. Carlos replied by using promoting Steve’s band as an example, “Maybe what you do is the next time that you have a booking for a show, you go on Instagram and see who the people are who are checking in at this venue and already posting content, and you personally reach out by sending them a message and inviting them to come see you perform.”
To drive home his point, Carlos talked about the increasingly popular advertising platform, Facebook ads. “Think about a time where you saw an ad on Facebook, and you whipped out your credit card on the spot and bought something. I know I’ve never done that. But companies spend countless dollars on that kind of advertising. What they really need to do instead is step back and just listen, pay attention to what’s being said, and go have conversations with people.” In Carlos’ opinion, businesses will fare much better by using their resources to engage people for free on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, aiming to build a community of customers.
To learn more about the new world of marketing, check out Carlos’ book, The End Of Marketing.
Disclosure: The opinions expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily of the radio show. Interviewee is not a representative of the radio show. Investing involves risk and investors should carefully consider their own investment objectives and never rely on any single chart, graph or marketing piece to make decisions. Content provided is intended for informational purposes only, is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be considered tax, legal, investment advice. Please contact your tax, legal, financial professional with questions about your specific needs and circumstances. The information contained herein was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however their accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. All data are driven from publicly available information and has not been independently verified by the radio show.
Steve Pomeranz: For anyone who has ever owned a business or is operating a business right now, my next guest makes a startling pronouncement and that pronouncement is “marketing as we know it is dead.” And if you’re going to survive and thrive in today’s business world, you’ll have to figure out how this new world operates. Also, as a consumer, you’re going to want to know how companies are trying to manipulate you to get you to buy their stuff.
My guest is Carlos Gil. He is an international keynote speaker, award-winning digital storyteller and has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur magazine and has led social media strategies for LinkedIn, Winn-Dixie, and other Fortune 500 companies. His book is The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and AI, and he explains it all. Welcome to the program, Carlos.
Carlos Gil: Steve, it’s great to be here with you. Thank you for having me.
Steve Pomeranz: Marketing may be dead, but consumerism will always be here. After all, we’re humans and we love to buy things, right?
Carlos Gil: Yeah, absolutely. You know the path to purchase is not linear anymore. And we are in this era where people are influenced by friends, people are influenced by celebrities that they’re seeing on TV and in traditional mass media, and then there’s social media. So then, the marketing really focuses a lot on building an audience, building advocacy, listening to what’s being said on social media because, let’s realize the obvious, we live in two parallel universes. There’s the real world and then there’s online world, and there’s so much power by tapping to the online world that we can discover.
But the reality, Steve, is that we live in this noisy giant digital ocean and what the end of marketing really tries to solve for any small business owner, all the way on up to an enterprise marketer, is that relationships are paramount to everything that we do.
Steve Pomeranz: Let’s compare this to the historical, typical historical way, marketing was done. Give us a brief history. As I say to people, I know about marketing and Madison Avenue because I watched Mad Men. So I’m an expert now, all the drinking in the afternoon and all that. But seriously, what was marketing like before social media came on the scene?
Carlos Gil: Well, in full disclosure, I’m 36-years-old. So my memories of marketing pre-internet is quite limited. But what I will say is growing up as a kid in South Florida, commercials is everything, right? So you see a commercial on TV for a pair of Air Jordans and then the perception is, well, I can jump higher, I can play better basketball because I’m wearing Michael Jordan’s shoes. Same thing, you drink Gatorade, all of a sudden as a kid you feel that you are invincible in the football field or on the basketball court.
So, marketing back then was very much driven by making people the faces of your brand, which is what I try to communicate through The End of Marketing. It’s not really changed much except the medium is what’s changed and the players have changed. The reality is that today you can become influential by just using a cell phone and a social media account and post the right mix of content and build a following.
And then the next thing you know, people are trusting your word over a brand and you see, it’s interesting to point out that people today, everyday consumers, actually have the same access to marketing than companies, million and billion-dollar companies. Like, granted, your average consumer doesn’t have the bandwidth or the budget to put up a billboard on the side of I-95, but again, the rules of engagement have changed.
People trust people, people buy from people. Logos are really losing their luster in the online world because what people perceive logos as is brands and services and products. And I think people are learning how to tune out brands on social media and internet, no different than they’ve learned how to tune them out on the radio or when they see them on a billboard.
Steve Pomeranz: This is vitally important because I think everyone starts off with the original thinking that the first thing you want to do is get a logo. You want to build your brand, whether it’s your personal brand or a company brand. The brand was most important. And from what you’re saying, it sounds to me like that has dissipated to a great degree, and a logo, a brand, is less important. So what has been substituted for us? Tell us again.
Carlos Gil: I’m glad that you brought that up because most individuals, when they go into business, they spend a lot of money on having a professional logo designed and a branding kit and messaging a website and all these different elements. What’s really important, first and foremost, is the ethos of your business. So that’s your story. Why are you in business? First and foremost, who is it that you’re trying to serve, and how can you get in front of them?
People are less inclined to do business with you because you have a nice-looking website and they’re more inclined to do business with you because you’re meeting their needs and you’re getting to them before your competition is.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, so the idea of having kind of a killer website. For instance, I have a band, I’m a musician, I have a band, and I put up a great website. Of course, nobody’s really going to the website, I noticed, too much. We’re reaching out on Facebook and so on. And we’re starting to gather some followers, but I don’t actually think we’re doing it correctly because we’re just kind of, we’re putting up videos, but I’m not personally interacting with the people who are signing up.
You have a story in your book where you worked for a company and they had like 2-million visitors to their website, but a lot of that was fake. And you suggested to them that they go down and they just find 30 of those 2 million who were really advocates of the company. Tell us about that.
Carlos Gil: Yeah. So, I’m so glad you brought that example, Steve. Many times when I’m working with clients of my agency or when I’m consulting, I’m speaking to an older audience that’s not as savvy when it comes to social media. So their perception is that you need to have the most likes, the most followers, the most impressions. And what I try to educate them on is, first of all, likes and followers do nothing for your brand if you’re not converting those likes and followers into advocates.
I would rather have 10 people that consistently advocate for my company online every single time I post, as opposed to having thousands of followers which do nothing. So it’s really getting executives to understand that you can’t automate or really scale advocacy. What advocacy really means is you’re creating loyalty within your customer base. And that starts with, first of all, using social media to truly listen to who is speaking about your brand.
Meaning if I go to, let’s say, Nordstrom’s, and I buy a pair of Cole Haan shoes, and I’m checking in on social media, and I’m at Nordstroms, well, heck, Nordstrom’s social media team somewhere in the world should be monitoring to see that Carlos Gil went into Nordstrom’s and actually gave them a shout out, gave them a plug. That’s free marketing. That’s what you want as a brand. But what happens, Steve, is 99% of brands are making marketing about them and not their customer. And what they’re doing is they’re pushing out content and expecting people to see it versus actually going out and looking for the content that’s already being posted about them.
Steve Pomeranz: Where is this posting being done of late?
Carlos Gil: Well, you have platforms like Instagram that are extremely popular right now. Instagram is one of the most utilized social networks. And I’ll give you an example, I was writing a proposal for a client recently, and I went onto Instagram and saw that this client had 24,000 mentions of their brand in the last year alone on Instagram. And they’re actually a retail store.
Steve Pomeranz: Sounds great.
Carlos Gil: So I went back to the CFO and said, “Hey, look, you’ve had 24,000 pieces of content promoting your company that you’ve never engaged with, that no one at your company’s ever touched. No one’s ever engaged. And the opportunity that lies is for your competition to swoop in and engage every single one of these customers.” So I refer to social media throughout the book as the wild-wild west because it is. There’s no rules, there’s no governing body at all that says that you cannot go out and engage with anyone. In fact, you can.
And I bring light to the fact that when I worked at Winn-Dixie, being a supermarket chain, as the head of social media, I was constantly monitoring who was talking about Publix, who was talking negatively about Publix. I would go to my chief marketing officer back then and say, “Hey, look, you have real people that exist that are talking about our competition in a negative way. That’s an opportunity for us to engage.” And back then in 2012-2013 era, social media was still so new from a brand standpoint that, the CMO basically would say, “Carlos, we don’t want to poke the bear, go back and do your job and just focus on our customers.”
It’s such a bad mentality because we are getting ready to enter an era, Steve, where automation and AI, otherwise known as artificial intelligence and bots, are getting ready to really disrupt how marketing is done, and it’s going to be less human and it’s going to be less personable. And what I referenced in the book throughout it is that we need to go back to the basics, which is building relationships and truly humanize your brand through people first, not products or services.
Steve Pomeranz: Okay, all right, I get your concept here, and you were speaking, of course, in generalities, the need to kind of get down to the level of the user and to benefit from their advocacy. You gave some examples in the book. Let’s use Coke for example. Coke, instead of being a company, you say they’ll need to be a person consumers can relate to. Nike will have to be a team of athletes that people can aspire to. Whole Foods will need to be a series of people who teach me how to eat, and the local gym will need people to teach me how to work out.
See, I’m trying to kind of dive down to the level of where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. I want you to help me understand this. For my small business, let’s say, what I need to do when I see someone advocating, mentioning my product, what do I need to do next and who do I need to be to them?
Carlos Gil: So what you need to do is you need to define first, who are your customers and where do they live? So, in your case, you have a band and so you want to get more people to come out and see you perform, right?
Steve Pomeranz: Yes, locally, that’s right, just locally.
Carlos Gil: Right. So maybe what you do is the next time that you have a booking for a show, what you do is you go on Instagram and see who are the people that are checking in at this venue and already posting content or, say, the last three months, and you personally reach out to them and you send them a message and you invite them to come see you perform. That’s what I’m getting to. You have to get down to the nitty-gritty of making people the face of your brand and have more conversations than just relying on posting content.
Steve Pomeranz: Okay, so that’s pretty easy for me to do. It’s a small following. Yet, if I’m going to be a business with any decent scale, and there’s 24,000 people that are doing something, how do you do that? It seems quite intense and exhausting.
Carlos Gil: So, that’s the thing, right? if you have a big business where you have resources already, why not just use those resources in an intelligent fashion? Like I’ve worked on the inside of corporate America, Steve. I know what it’s like to go into an hour meeting just to consume five minutes worth of content where everyone’s giving updates. It’s working smarter, not harder, and this is a mindset shift of how you use your resources internally, and you really want to dominate the internet.
I just did a workshop two days ago here in Dallas, and I was giving my audience insights in terms of how they can be better marketers. I call it being a “savage marketer,” and I had a couple of people rolling their eyes at me saying, “Well, this has never worked for a company.” Well, you know what, that’s your choice, right? It’s your choice if you want to advance your brand or not.
The reality is that most companies out there today are seeing very poor engagement on social media, and there’s a reason for them. Chances are because you’re constantly selling to your audience and no one wants to be sold to, no one at all. Let me ask you, Steve. Do you personally go on social media with the intent of looking for an advertisement?
Steve Pomeranz: No, of course not.
Carlos Gil: No, no one does.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah. From time to time, there is an ad with something that I might be particularly interested in, let’s just say it’s something musically related, guitar-related or something like that, and I’ll see something, oh, there’s a hack that I think I can use and I might buy it. So they know I’m interested in musical things. These are the kinds of sites I go to, so they are targeting me in some way.
Carlos Gil: Yeah. They target you because they most likely have what is referred to as tracking pixels on their websites. So for example, you go to Amazon, you’re looking at a pair of shoes, you don’t buy the shoes, you go back over to Facebook, boom. You start seeing the shoes all over-
Steve Pomeranz: That’s exactly right.
Carlos Gil: … All over the internet, right? That’s an advertisement. Eventually, you might cave in and buy the shoes, right? But what I’m referring to is the average consumer is not going to social media with the intent of buying anything.
Steve Pomeranz: True.
Carlos Gil: And in, I think it’s the first or second page of the book, I walk people through this natural progression. Think about a time where you saw an ad on Facebook and you whipped out your credit card on the spot and bought something. I know I’ve never done that. And most people that ask, they’ve never done that, but yet companies spend countless dollars on advertising when what they should be doing is take a step back and just listen and pay attention to what’s being said and go have conversations with people. It’s such a basic concept, but yet marketers have such a difficult time executing.
Steve Pomeranz: So there’s an opportunity for those that have this extra knowledge. You describe in your book that it’s like a casino. You know that the house is going to win, but yet if you’re specifically a poker player and you specialize in that, you have an advantage to beat other untrained or less-aware poker players. So there is a way to win in this very complicated environment, even though generally speaking you’re in an ocean of people doing the same things. It’s very hard to stand out, but with specific skills, you possibly can win.
My guest is Carlos Gil, his book is The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and AI. We are not going to be able to delve down that much, but Carlos, I’m going to extend this interview for another few minutes.
I want to discuss Facebook because, in your book, you mentioned that there’s over 7 billion people in the world and over 2 billion of them are on Facebook. So Facebook is a power to be considered and actually, probably, in the future, to be reckoned with. I don’t want to get into conspiracy theories, but what is your take on the power of Facebook?
Carlos Gil: Facebook is without a doubt the most powerful company in the world, quite frankly. Even more so I’d say than Google because they have the ability to capture all this data on what we do and where we go and who we’re friends with. And there’s power in that. But as I explained through the book, you can actually take that power back and leverage that data as well.
Steve Pomeranz: How?
Carlos Gil: Well, very simple, by getting to know your customers, right? So when you message me on my Facebook page, you get an autoresponder for me with my phone number and then that phone number you text, and now I’m actually, I have your phone number, so now I don’t need to market to you through Facebook. I can now market to you directly-
Steve Pomeranz: Directly, yes.
Carlos Gil: … through your cell phone. I’m cutting out the middleman. So I refer to social networks as being very similar to casinos because they are the house. You’re never going to beat the house at their own rules. So, you’re never going to beat Facebook and be smarter than Facebook. So just accept that. But what you can do is you can play by the rules and you can take data back.
So you can ask customers for their phone number, you can ask customers for their email address, and you should be. There will come a day where it will become even harder to advertise and market on any of these social networks, and I feel 110% that the brands that right now are making the investment in humanizing their companies through people and also taking data back, meaning taking control back from the social networks, ultimately, will win in the long run. The name of the game is not to build a business just using social media. Social media is just a gateway. It’s just an avenue. It’s a medium.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, when someone says, “I’m online,” or, “I’m using social media,” that’s not really the strategy. That doesn’t really tell you anything, does it?
Carlos Gil: No, absolutely not. Social media can be a big waste of time. Online marketing can be a big waste of time. It’s a numbers game. You’re trying to get in front of people. So, I would rather get in front of people in mediums that are less clustered, like text message marketing, even email marketing. I think email marketing is going to make a huge comeback here in the next several years because there’s less competition for people’s attention.
And you see that’s the commodity that we should all be chasing is attention. And I think that that’s been overlooked because, again, you have bad marketers that are focusing on metrics that really don’t matter, such as “likes.”
Steve Pomeranz: Interesting. Yeah. Yeah. One statement you made in the book was that content is queen, but community is king. I was like, wow, that says a lot in one short sentence. Explain that to us.
Carlos Gil: Yeah. You know what I mean by that statement is so many marketers, legacy marketers… You go to conferences and they all say the same rhetoric that content is king. I really disagree with that. I think what content is is noise. It’s digital pollution. And if you’re making noise, but yet no one’s paying attention, and no one really knows that you exist, then you’re wasting your time, and I don’t know about you, Steve. I’m not in business to waste my time.
Steve Pomeranz: Well, there’s just so much content going by. Let’s take Facebook. Flipping through the content when you get a moment, and you get caught in this rabbit hole until you stop and you go, wait a minute. I forgot my life here for 90 seconds or five minutes. So there’s a lot of content, but it’s not really doing me any good. So, this idea of community, which is harder. It’s easy to create content these days, it’s harder to create community. And maybe that’s why that’s going to work.
Carlos Gil: Yeah, it’s difficult to build community because you can’t buy a community, you can’t really scale it. You can’t run Facebook ads and all of a sudden you have a community, you have to work for it. You have to build relationships one by one, but here’s the growth hack, right? There is a growth hack that I can share with you. There’s a community that already exists right now and you can tap into that community. You can go on Instagram, you can go on Twitter. You can have conversations with people. That’s free and it doesn’t require much effort or work.
Steve Pomeranz: Interesting. So it’s right there in front of us, but it’s the thing that really takes creativity and social skills. It is a social network, as opposed to creating content, you don’t really have to talk to anybody.
Carlos Gil: Correct.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah. Got it. My guest, Carlos Gil, The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and AI. Carlos, thank you so much for joining us and informing us all who own businesses or are trying to make some kind of mark in this world through our businesses on how to use this new technology. Thank you so much.
Carlos Gil: Thank you so much for the opportunity, Steve.
Steve Pomeranz: Sure. Folks, as you know, my mission is always to educate my listeners, and I remind you week after week, segment after segment, that we love your questions because we truly do. These are complicated times which makes for more complicated topics, like this one we’ve just talked about with Carlos, and I am always here to answer your questions.
If you have questions about your portfolio, your kids, your kids’ kids, your retirement, your 401k, how to better take care of your family, anything financial on your mind, I’m here with over 35 years of experience and I’d love to help you in any way I can. So go to our site, stevepomeranz.com. Go to the contact section and let me know how we can help you.
And while you’re there, sign up for our weekly update, which comes directly into your mailbox with all of the segments like this one that we produce every single week. That’s stevepomeranz.com, P-O-M-E-R-A-N-Z, dot com, and contact us. Carlos, once again, thank you so much.
Carlos Gil: Thank you so much, Steve.