The War on Fluff

Authentic

Fluff - this stuff is dangerous. 

Fluff - this stuff is dangerous. 

Original

Conversational

Spontaneous

Unvarnished

Brash

Unpolished

These are just some of the words used to describe communications in what I've termed the new "non-fluff" marketing era.

Audiences everywhere - but especially in tech - are weary of marketing spin and window dressing. Whether you're producing blog posts, ads, videos, presentations or podcasts, you can no longer expect to tap dance your way into sales, leads or general persuasive copy.

The people are just not taking it any more. It's "The War on Fluff," and it's in theaters now.

The place I notice it most is in the Spiceworks community. For those of you who don't know what this is, it's pretty much Facebook for IT. Sys admins, network administrators and general technical architects and engineers gather in Spiceworks to socialize, laugh and solve each others problems. It's unlike Facebook in that sense. In Spiceworks, people actually post real business and IT problems, and their peers provide answers and opinions. 

Marketers are all over the Spiceworks community, because they know it's the place where minds are made up about significant IT purchases -- everything from IP surveillance systems and enterprise mobile solutions to virtualization software and networking gear. 

Here are just a few of the anti-marketing, "War on Fluff" sentiments that circulate in the Spiceworks community: 

Minimize marketing buzzwords. They’re wonderfully not helpful.
— Arysyth, Network/Systems Admin
You have to build a relationship. Impulse buying is for checkout lines, not professional IT services.
— Rivitir, Network/Systems Admin
Be able to answer technical questiions - or take a note of my queries and pass them on to someone who can.
— RealityCheque, IT Manager
I don’t like having to sign my life away just to download/read a white paper.
— Robert762, IT manager

You get gist, right? These guys and gals know what we're up to, and they're not taking any more of the fluff.

But what does that mean for the modern marketer?

It means we have to get real, get specific and lose all the BS. Clarity, brevity and directness have always been the holy grail. David Ogilvy was on to this with his focus on intentional editorial copy in magazines. 

It's just now more important than ever because the media world is fantastically crowded with all kinds of confusing pitches and misdirection. We've got native advertising, Outbrain advertorial, PPC ads, press releases inserted as local news packages . . you name it. The mainstream media and every other outlet from the New York Times to your favorite blogger have been infiltrated by "content providers."

BOTTOM LINE: Cut the fluff. Be direct. Be specific. Make promises, but back them up in an authentic, non-glitzy way. There is a war on fluff out there, but you can use it to your advantage and double-down on truth, justice and the "flat Earth" way. :-)