Marketing expert and author Seth Godin at IRCE 2018 urges marketers to treat the millions of internet shoppers as individuals, not in the aggregate. “Remember, they are humans,” Godin said at IRCE today.

It’s time for internet sellers to stop bombarding consumers with marketing “noise” designed to reach the masses. “The people we seek to serve are rooted in what they want,” marketing expert and author Seth Godin said today at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago. “We have forgotten they are humans.”

The common urge is to send out more messages in an attempt to drown out all others. But “more” means mass, and products and messages have become average in order to appeal to the broadest possible audience. Shoppers are tuning out as a result. “People have put up a sign: You have branded yourself to death,” Godin cautioned.

It’s time to stop yelling and change the rules of communicating, which Godin likened to a sunflower’s deep-root structure. Connecting with your targets is the goal, and it’s the stories that marketers tell that fuel their success, Godin said. Fancy Feast cat food, for example, tells a story about its flavors, which speaks to cat owners’ feelings about their feline companions. “You have to touch their humanity,” he said at his session titled “You Have the Microphone: Make a Ruckus.”

Godin urged the audience to see that the internet is not the biggest network in world—it’s the smallest and made up of millions of individuals. Consumers will engage with companies that tell compelling stories, and they in turn will tell their friends. “Your real job is not technology, it’s communicating,” Godin said.

Godin is a best-selling author of 18 marketing and self-enrichment books. He writes and speaks about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, leadership and change. His background includes founding Yoyodyne, an online direct marketing firm, and Squidoo, a user-generated content site.