Author's Disclaimer: Digital marketing is a moving target. There is no definitive right or wrong formula. In my experience, I have seen the role of the marketing expert diminishing while the creators rise to prominence. These are my findings:
Marketing experts are overly focused on the strategy of distributing their content – where to distribute, when to distribute and how to write cater to search engines. Stop. The bottom line is, even if your business is found on the internet, does your content and brand give your audience a reason to hear what you have to say?
People want you to believe that digital marketing is complicated – an overly intricate machine that only a privileged few can truly understand and operate. Those people call themselves “marketing experts,” and they’re bleeding your resources dry. Digital marketing machines everywhere are running full-tilt, but it’s producing a product that no one wants.
America’s most beloved brands aren’t ones with the most in-depth keyword research. They’re not the ones who develop strategy based off of the latest buzzwords, and they’re certainly not the ones who follow so-called “expert” advice.
They simply create, and they never stop creating. They are clever, brash, off-center, inappropriate, sensitive, defiant, but most importantly, they see their work as art – completely original pieces that initiate a powerful response. These people are entertainers.
Marketing's not complicated – it’s simply entertainment.
Think of who you are competing against – other brands, other industries, bloggers, Twitter feeds, cat videos, TV shows, the NFL, pornography, Netflix – literally everything on the internet stands between you and your audience. Add in the fact that Americans hate being advertised to, and you have some work to do.
Most of the entities in the aforementioned list have one thing in common: they entertain. Is your current strategy going to compete? Blogs that are driven by keywords aren’t going to cut it. Social media posts that regurgitate community information won’t either.
A marketing strategy with no clear vision is doomed to be drowned out by the larger entities. You want to go viral and you want to be heard, but where do you start…
Speaking in generalities, self-proclaimed marketers who “live and breathe” marketing are the worst candidates for creative positions. Sure, proficiency in AdWords is great, mastery in Google Analytics is better, but they will only be tracking the traffic you’re not retaining. Often times these are the people that create marketing buzzwords and gimmicks rather than outstanding campaigns and strategies.
You need eclectic storytellers, not marketers. The most memorable ideas and effective strategies come from those with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. For example, my colleagues are two of the most creative people I know, but marketing was never their dream. One copywriter spends his free time writing movie reviews and creating his own films and documentaries. The other worked for FEMA and was a sports beat reporter, but as a young child, enjoyed writing short stories to see if they would get published. Neither of their backgrounds scream “I’m a marketer!” but they’re damn good at it and they get results.
Traditional marketers tend to think strictly from an advertising perspective. When starting a new campaign, their thought process often sounds like this:“Okay, I have my target audience, I know which channels would reach the audience most efficiently, I have the product/service we need to sell and I have some pretty cool features we should highlight.”
Top agencies and top brands market themselves and their products from a different vantage point: as humans in a community made up of like-minded and different-minded individuals. They know that each person has unique life experiences and perspectives, but there is always a common ground:“Alright, I have my target audience. What are common experiences this audience shares? What is most important to them? What do they want from life? What do they want to change about the world? How does our product fit into their lives, their ideals and their aspirations?”
The second example is based around the consumer rather than the product itself. Entertainers uncover details about the human experience to create a compelling narrative about the consumer, then they incorporate your brand/product service. In this approach, the person is the main focus, not the product.
As an example, let’s pretend you are a well-established hand tool and power tool manufacturer whose main strength is the quality of the product. Your product sells at a higher cost to your competitors. The target market is middle-class men aged 30 to 50.
Artistic entertainers try to create something that grabs the customer’s emotion, rather than produce generic, hollow work. The following is a very rough sketch of how a digital marketing campaign might look using this approach.
[Wide shot from behind: a 50 year-old man, slightly graying hair, staring up at a tree house as wind rustles through branches & leaves.] [Voiceover] “My dad and I built this house the summer of 1975.”
[Cut to 70’s style home video: A father and son measuring, cutting and sanding wood. The brand name is visible on the tools. Son smiling] [Voice Over] “I can still hear him say ‘measure twice, cut once.’ Each plank had to be exact. We carefully sanded each piece until it felt like glass.”
[Cut back to wide shot of man from behind] [Voice Over] “Everything about that time together was perfect. I think about him every day, but I’d like to think a piece of him lives on trough that old tree house. “
[Cut to shot from tree house of the 50-year-old man’s son playing in the tree house. The man standing on the ground is smiling lovingly back up at him.]
The video tells the story of a man remembering his dad through a project they built together as a child. The durability and longevity of the tree house implies that the tools were a major factor in its quality. The target audience will be of age to begin these types of projects with their children. The idea of a long-standing, tangible representation of a father and son’s love will appeal to the audience.
They will want to create a similar memory with their family. When starting a new project, the brand that created this video will stick out in their mind.
This brand could run a promotion all about this summer’s family project. Fans and followers could send in pictures of projects completed as a family. Deer-hunting stands, new decks, cool furniture, etc.
Follow up on a submission of an outstanding or out-of-the-ordinary piece that a family built together. Interview them and write about their incredible ingenuity. The chances of a blog like this getting shared are far more likely than a blog about the tools themselves.
The brand could donate tools and help set up an event for the Big Brothers Big Sisters foundation. They would have experts on hand to assist with building birdhouses for their community. This would be great PR and may get picked up by media outlets. It is also consistent with the “family” theme of this campaign.
When a truly great campaign has been executed, there is no need for gimmicks or tricks to get your brand’s message out there. SEO is important, keyword research is important, the “perfect” title tag is important, but it should never be the first step in your process. When you get visitors to your site and other outlets, the creative content will be sure to leave an impression.
The Idea People has four full-time copywriters who specialize in creating high quality digital marketing campaigns. To learn more about how a creative team of entertainers can bring your digital marketing efforts to the next level, please call Jay Joyce with The Idea People at 704-398-4437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.