A marketing myth is that if you establish a difference between you and the competition, you’ll become dominant in the category in which you are different.
In reality, being different isn’t enough. Why wouldn’t your audience see your differentiation as just a desperate attempt to carve out a niche? I’m not saying that it never works, just look at Ragu. Years ago they wanted to create a difference between them and their competitors. Jarred tomato sauce was indeed everywhere, and they all tasted the same, striving for that creamy-ish consistency grand-ma-ma used to make.
Despite focus groups and audience surveys, they found that many of their audience actually preferred a thicker, more coarsely blended sauce and “thick and zesty” Ragu sauce became a hit. They found that niche and made the most of it. It wasn’t that Ragu truly believed in thick and zesty sauce.
But lets take “My Pillow” as a contrary example. Mike Lindell, the company’s owner, doesn’t strike you as an appealing pillow spokesmodel by any means. That is, not until he tells his story. Confounded by a lack of good sleep, Mike determined that his pillow was the primary cause of his sleeping discomfort, so he set out on a mission to create the perfect sleeping pillow. True or not (and I don’t know and don’t care about the truth here), his story is believable. If I had sleeping issues, I’d certainly consider us to have shared a condition, one about which he is passionate enough to stake his reputation upon.
He proudly claims to have solved his sleeping problem and now wants to share this perfect solution with the rest of us. And his claim is believable! His passion is believable and many are glad he is sharing that solution with us.
It isn’t his differentiation that sets him apart. To be honest, I’m not sure how his pillow is different from any other, but his passion hits in a way that delivers a sound emotional appeal to those who share his affliction.
Don’t stop at achieving a differentiation. Instead, have a passion, then introduce your differentiation as the conclusion of that passion.
To really reach a prospect or customer, take what you have learned about sales technique, and do it backward.
The traditional method stresses the concept of being different. Specifically, find the category in which you lead, and stress those differences to the right audience. Lets take Michelin as an example. Goodyear is the most popular tire out there. Michelin recognized that and knew it had to lead a sub-category. So it stresses safety. Who can forget the image of an infant safely enjoying sitting in the protection of a Michelin tire?
So introduce your product (the tires), then explain why your offering is different (the safety USP). That is the formula for a USP driven marketing message.
Reverse marketing introduces what your company believes first. It might suggest that your family’s safety is our concern. We use the best materials and build catastrophe out of our products. We make the safest tires on the market. That appeal introduces the company as being concerned about safety first, and the tires are an outgrowth of what they believe, not a way to carve out a niche.
This emotional appeal will allow Michelin to stand out in the mind of the audience. We want to establish a single thought in the mind of our audience. One that transcends words. The emotional appeal is the best way to do that.
The tough part of visiting a prospect is that no matter how well it goes, the minute you leave, they become surrounded by the realities they postponed during your visit. Your equipment list, or quality processes are quickly forgotten. It is because you didn’t reach them on any level other than your impressive statistics. You were appealing to the wrong part of the brain.
For a marketer, the brain has sections, two of which are important. You can divide the brain into the reptilian section, the limbic brain and the neocortex.
The reptilian brain is responsible for reflexes, breathing, hearbeat and fight or flight response. It is the most primitive part of the brain and it really doesn’t concern us.
The limbic brain developed as we became mammals. It is called the emotional brain. The limbic brain is responsible for our memories and the judgement between good and bad among them. It is where loyalty and fear reside. Most importantly, all our decisions are made there. However, it has no capacity for language so you have to reach it in other ways.
The neocortex is our most advanced part of the brain. Calculations, judgement, and language reside there. It is why we can understand business. However, it simply processes this kind of data. It doesn’t make judgments on it. That is the responsibility of the limbic brain.
When Maya Angelou claimed that she had learned that people won’t remember what you said, nor what you do, they will remember how you made them feel, it is because that feeling is where you reached the limbic brain.
Marketers tend to push a company’s USP. Its unique selling proposition. Only the neocortex can process that. But to reach the limbic brain and make them feel, you have to appeal emotionally. Begin your conversation with what you believe, not what your end product is. The end product of what you produce should be the end of a story. What you believe has to drive you to your USP, then to the finished product. Otherwise they will forget what you presented the moment you leave the room.
“Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan”. It is true of great creative. Great creative starts with a daring client who understands that as long as the marketing and branding goals are met, be as outrageous as you dare.
It takes a marketing plan that everyone believes in and makes realistic sense for the brand.
Finally, it takes a creative mind capable of getting into the mind of the audience, then is able to interpret the benefits of an offer, and blending it with the rules of the media used, the brand and psychology delivers an impact.
All that has to go into it for it to be good. It wasn’t just a useful brainstorming.
The new year has arrived, and we celebrated the most hedonistic of holidays. Celebrate to excess on New Year’s Eve, while counting down the inevitable.Then, lounge about on New Years Day, watching parades and bowl games. The only honoree is Father Time, who appropriately changes into an infant at midnight. What symbol is more self absorbed? The only gifts given are those that are to be consumed that day.
The very idea reminds me of the most fundamental rule of advertising. To promote a product, appeal to one of the seven deadly sins. Pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth may carve your path to Hades, but suggesting that your brand will feed any of these will help make that brand successful.
How many times have you been attracted to a product that made one of these promises?
- A beer that makes you popular with women (beer teaches marketing, I always say).
- A car that makes others stop and look at you drive down the street.
- A restaurant where you feast like a king.
- A cake mix that lets you get back at the perennial baking queen by just opening a box.
- Financial services that make you wealthier.
- A home appliance that does the work for you.It works.
Plain and simple. So when you are about to find a marketing angle for your next project, be sure to ask how that product will make the user envied, sexy, rich, pretty, fat or lazy.
You would expect that the artist at an advertising agency is the creative team, and the numbers geeks in data selection are the analytical ones, wouldn’t you? In fact, most people would bet on it.
However, the opposite is true. Sure, each of them are mired in the rolls we expect them to hold, but the geniuses in each of those areas are the ones who employ the opposite talent.
The list is the most important part of an advertising campaign. How do we get our message most efficiently in front of the right audience? No matter the media, we can find a lot of data about audience behavior. What they do for a living, how much money they make, their family structure and set of beliefs tell us a lot about the products they are likely to purchase. But everyone knows that. Your competitors know that. To set yourself above the rest, you need someone who can read into all that data, information that isn’t obvious.
For instance, if you are selling carpet cleaning, find pet owners, or homeowners with children. Their dirty carpets need cleaning. But how about identifying drivers of cherry red Ford Mustangs? That color is daring and catches attention when sparkling clean. That group is likely to be particular about their surroundings and fond of cleanliness. You may find a golden audience with that group. Create a message just for them, and you are likely to find success.
So now, you move that assignment to the creative team. Their task is to develop a message that promotes the need of clean carpets to the audience of proud red Mustang owners. It must convey a sales offer, and hold true to the branding requirements of the offeror (let’s hope their corporate colors don’t clash with a red Mustang) and must do so within the physical limits of the media chosen. A 30-second TV spot, print on a 6″ x 11″ postcard, or remain under the seven words readable on billboards of various, unknown placements.
The creative team does what they do under more rules than we know, whereas, the audience identification crew starts with accepted knowledge, and has unlimited imagination available to them to enhance the program’s reach.
If a program is successful, you can probably count on one of those teams being able to use the other side of their brain to lead the success.