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.
The classic Robin Williams bit on the invention of golf is really a lesson on launching a unique brand. At the time there was no demand for the new sport of golf. As a marketer, and not a comedian, I’d have argued that the world was in need of a frustrating five-hour competition in a tightly managed wilderness. Then I would have introduced the sport of golf as the solution to that need that no one realized existed until I told them it did.
My story would not be nearly as humorous, but it might have been successful. This skit, and the story of Red Bull energy drink are identical in that regard.
They both created a need. Invented a marketplace that didn’t exist before they made an argument for it, then they introduced their product as a way to fill that need.
So don’t fear launching a brand new product. Just push the category that it satisfies, whether that need is recognized to exist or not. Then introduce the new product as the solution to that dire category, which screams for attention.
Just be careful. This is inappropriate for work. Sure there is foul language, but the loud laughter it creates may be unproductive.
It is the last season of Mad Men. Of course, I enjoy the show. How could I not? I live it here, right down to smoking in the office (don’t tell the city please). We even have a retro martini bar that is our favorite stop after work.
But there is one thing about the show that bugs me. In advertising, the era of the 60s was famous for its use of advertising icons. In fact, many of those icons have endured until today. Tony the Tiger, The Green Giant and Mr. Clean were but a few still in use. But Josephine the Plumber, the Ajax White Knight and the Frito Bandito were all icons created in the Sixties as well.
So why do we never see Don Draper pitching the use of an icon in the show? It almost seems deliberate that they ignore that part of 1960s advertising. Perhaps an episode that showed Don Draper pitching Cap’n Crunch would be bad for his image. More likely, creating an advertising icon is a lot more work than can be whipped out in a show that has enough realism on its plate to begin with. Either way, to me it is the most glaring omission in an otherwise wonderfully realistic show.
In case you wonder just how prevalent these icons were in that era, here is a list of some that were either created or had their most popular days in that era.
Tony the Tiger Norelco Santa NBC Peacock
Jolly Green Giant The Pillsbury Dough Boy Speedy Alka-Seltzer
Marlboro Man Aunt Jemima Betty Crocker
Madge from Palmolive Josephine the Plumber Mr. Clean
Cap’n Crunch Count Chocula Quisp and Quake
Frankenberry White Knight from Ajax Frito Bandito
Hawaiian Punchy Mr. Whipple Maytag Repairman
Juan Valdez Mr. Peanut Campbell Kids
Charlie Tuna Elsie the Borden Cow Lucky Charm Leprechaun
Sonny of Cocoa Puffs Toucan Sam The Twenty Mule Team
Trix Rabbit Geoffery The Giraffe Mrs. Olson
Raisin Bran Sun Quaker Oats Man Ronald McDonald
Wendy of Wendy’s Morris the Cat Choo-Choo Charlie
Cornelius the Kellogs Corn Flakes Rooster The Hamm’s Bear
How do you “go viral?” Dollar for dollar, a successful viral video will do more for your bottom line than any other single marketing activity you can think of. It is like hitting it big in Vegas. However, like hitting it big in Vegas, it comes only rarely.
Viral success will make or break itself, and once you put out there, you can do very little more to contribute to its success. The slightest hint of self promotion will usually disqualify you in the eyes of a suspicious world.
With one exception. The band OK Go are masters at viral video. Their investment in production and creativity of their videos make them the closest thing out there to a predictably reliable success.
Take a look at some, including their newest. I don’t suggest you try to emulate their success, but your own addiction to watching, and yearning for more of these will tell you what good viral marketing achieves.
Peter Drucker, one of the world’s most brilliant business management experts said “Innovation and marketing produce results. All the rest are costs.”
If the head of your company respects that, you are most likely very successful. But what if the head of your company happens to be a genius at both? Then you have Steve Jobs.
When Jobs began his company in 1976, he had the vision to create a computer for daily life. At that time, no one even considered the idea. At that time the world’s most advanced computers were at NASA and the Department of Defense. Today, Jobs’ iPhone carries far more power than anything either of those entities held in 1976. His crystal clear vision was far beyond what anyone else could even imagine. His determination and success in making it happen gave proof of the value of that vision.
Then came the Macintosh in 1984 and with it, what many consider the greatest ad ever. To think it only ran one time is part of its lasting genius. But it was a unique piece of marketing that only he could have created.
Fast forward to the iPod. The mp3 player was already invented, but Jobs marketed it in a way that made it his. The iPod was an unfamiliar product with an unfamiliar interface. One would think an explanation of how it works would be in order. Not Steve Jobs, though. He never showed it, never talked about it. He only had silhouettes dance to it, earbuds in place. The iPod was instantly cool.
He later reinvented the telephone with the iPhone, reinvented the convenience of a laptop computer by removing everything mechanical from it with the Macbook Air, and now has revolutionized portable computing with the iPad.
That doesn’t even mention revolutionizing product naming by adding an “I” in front of everything…that is after he revolutionized naming by calling his products by the least obvious names imaginable. Sure the Macintosh made sense for Apple, but Apple itself makes no sense, nor does naming his progression of operating systems after predatory felines. But that kind of thinking is what you get from a genius in innovation and markeing.
Brands can’t be created instantly. They have to be developed over time. You put a consistent thought into the audience’s mind, and repeat it until that thought becomes synonymous with your brand.
That is unless you have the budget to create one immediately. Throw in a little Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Ferrell, and on and on, just keep writing the checks. If the concept is right, you can do it.
When you are the BBC, you can afford to instantly create the BBC Music brand. Sure it feeds off the BBC brand, I will concede that, but when you watch the spot, you can see what they are trying to achieve, and how it is a brand unto itself, separate from the BBC brand.
Then watch the short video on its creation and its brand message is confirmed.