Marketing and advertising have been overtaken by their technologies. Early in my career, the Mac Computer brought Adobe software to graphics brilliantly. In fact it became a common complaint by designers that “Anyone with a Mac thinks they are a designer.” i disagreed. It truly made them a designer, just not as effective as one as many seasoned professionals.
That fact has spread to much of marketing and advertising these days. An ability to manage the technology of marketing is replacing the need for strategy. Digital and Social media technology can be more effective quickly than a sound marketing strategy. Sure it isn’t as long-lasting, but in this day of quick results, short lived results aren’t even considered in many instances.
New technologies, incorporating the digital world in almost every instance, can strike so fast, that their immediate results can be mistaken for strong brand building very easily. The ability to gain fast results maximizing digital technology are often considered more effective than a name like Kleenex owning the facial tissue world to the extent that its name means the same as the category. Think of it…Kleenex still means facial tissue, but where has any social media campaign lasted? I can’t even think of one, can you?
Technology is a tool to execute a sound strategy. None of the great marketers of years ago ever led by a technology. They used technologies to move a sound strategy forward. We saw the Marlboro Man in magazines, on billboards and on TV. The strategy was what was important. The tools used to advance it were just tools. It seems that those good at the tools are overtaking the strategists who should be leading campaigns. That is true on all levels. Large and small.
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.
How many marketing techniques can you fit into a single campaign? The ALS ice bucket challenge might set a new record. And they execute them all so well.
The challenge employs:
Celebrity endorsements – You can’t help but see celebrities of all walks of life taking the challenge then calling upon more celebrities to join them. The unpaid endorsements top every other campaign I’ve ever seen….even more than USA for Africa if you can stand to hear “We Are the World” one more time
Viral Marketing – The idea that part of the campaign is to call out three people assures a viral thread across the social media universe once it took hold
Word of Mouth – You will see your friends endorse the campaign one by one, until you are finally called upon. Try to resist the peer pressure that creates
Multi-level (Pyramid) marketing – By creating brand champions out of friends, family and celebrities, it sucks you in to become one too. It is a steamroller of pyramid marketing.
Social media – It employs Facebook and twitter better than any campaign ever has. It uses those tools to make money more effectively than anything in recent memory
Public Relations – Even the social media illiterate will surely have heard of the campaign and seen clips of it through news, and sports shows, or through friends and relatives who have seen the videos or participated themselves.
Branding – We know it by the “Ice Bucket Challenge” We know it is for ALS research. They have made that message part of us now. We don’t even have to think about it.
News, excitement and a strong call-to-action – News:0 “Everyone wants to work to cure ALS” Excitement: The visual of a bucket of ice over a person’s head. Call-to-action: The next three named really can’t ignore it.
Brand advancement – The consistency and simplicity of every message, each delivered in its own unique way to make sure you view it is astounding.
What do you get when you run such a successful campaign? Last year, through the month of July and August, the ALS Association received about $2.5 million in donations. This year, with the start of the campaign, they are over $79.7 million in donations.
Like just about every other successful campaign you can think of, the success of this campaign is not in its uniqueness. Every one of these techniques, right down to the bucket of ice over the head, has been done to death in about every combination possible. So why has nothing worked this well? What is different here, is that all the techniques were employed according to a strong plan, that made sense and employed great fundamentals.
When you create a campaign, just worry about the fundamentals, and make sure what you decide creatively makes sense according to that plan. Then believe in and commit to it.
There continues to be a lot of attention paid to social media. If you are not sure if social media is right for your company, your problems go deeper than whether your answer is yes or no. Despite the fact that social media requires a whole new way of looking at your relationship with customers (it is a conversation that the audience controls, not you just sending out a message you hope they receive), the fact is, it is just a medium. Just a tactic.
If you are unsure of its value to your company, that means your marketing strategy is not clear to you. When you understand your strategy, decisions on tactics and media almost make themselves. To see if your strategy is clear, answer these three questions.
Think of your two closest competitors. What sets you apart from them?
Create a profile of your primary audience?
What is it about your company that makes you the best choice for that audience?
Now your score. Which is your longest answer? It should be question 2. You should be able to give an instant and fast answer to questions one and three. No more than two sentences should be necessary to state your brand promise, and it should roll off your tongue as easily as does your own name. But defining your audience should take more of an explanation, because a lot of things distinguish them from the overall audience of those who use a product like the one you offer. If you make tool kits for instance, they may be for automotive professionals, roofers, handymen, single women, do-it-yourselfers or those not handy at all. Your tool kits might be packaged for easy apartment storage, for accessibility from a pickup truck, etc. Meaning that despite the fact that most people need tools, yours are best suited for some very specific group of people.
Are the answers to question 1 and three the same? They should be. What makes your offering unique should come as an automatic answer to any question of that type. What makes you different from your competitors should be as easy to identify as that which sets you apart in the eyes of your audience. After all, how you appear in the eyes of your primary audience is all that counts.
Once you understand your audience, and your place among them, forming a strong message and delivering it is easy. You can make a strong case for or against the use of various media as long as you make your brand the priority.