What’s going on out there? With so much advertising and marketing and business related messaging, inundating the ears of the potential market pool, how does one approach them; how does one make a certain product or service more desirable than the rest?
It’s the Internet’s fault. Yes, it’s old news now, but we never stopped to consider the long-reaching effect an information explosion would have on brands and the marketer’s ability to communicate about them.
TV, TV everywhere
Suddenly, the computer became a television. So did phones. Even fridges got televisions in them. Suddenly people had access to information about the products they love. The days of traditional marketing seemingly vanished overnight. Social media sprung up everywhere, giving people a real voice in the public domain. Suddenly, nothing was the same.
The days of putting a product on the shelves, running a few ads and being assured of sales are long gone. Increased competition, the proliferation of ‘house brands’ and the explosion of messages and mediums through which they can be communicated saw to that.
Customers got smarter, got to know more about products and most importantly, started to share their opinions about them.
New market dynamics
Where once Nike or Reebok put shoes on the shelves and hoped that people would buy them based purely on brand intrinsics and value, they adapted quickly to understand the new market.
Now a customer can design his pair of trainers online, send the design to the brand owners, who in turn deliver on the customer’s desires and expectations, giving him exactly what he wants.
Unfortunately, most companies are finding it difficult to face the irrefutable truth that customers now drive brands, not Marketers, as it used to be.
Popular opinion is what matters now. Research conducted all over the world is showing that people trust social media over their own family members. People are taking on big corporations, inciting the public against them and winning.
So now the customers are more knowledgeable, more market savvy and they are making their opinions known and felt. Yet the new marketing quagmire doesn’t end there.
It is said that the amount of technical information in the world is doubling every six months and with it the ways that people and companies can share information. What worked yesterday, will not work today. So what will work?
Not the usual sales pitch, clearly. No, we must go against everything we have learnt. To reach customers and stand out from competitors, we have to be real. In a world where everybody is selling something, authenticity has become a rare and valued quality.
Honest, transparent communication has been shown to work best in social media. The same could be said for all types of communication – as the Dove ‘real women’ campaign shows.
We need to find things that are real and common to all people. No wonder then, that humour fares so well in the international ad awards. There are things that appeal to all people that break through the so-called ‘clutter’.
Yet, it is more complicated than even that. Advertising has become more than just endless background noise. People now see it as a necessary evil that they have to endure, in order to get to what they really want: entertainment.
Entertainment and advertising
I have seen a few magnificent examples of ads that are designed to entertain, while subtly delivering their message. The Old Spice campaign is just one example. They create a wondrous uproar, they get shared over and over again. They become iconic in the marketplace and yes, they lead to turn-around financial results.
I believe this is the (at least near) future of marketing and advertising. It’s one way that is proven to work. One just has to strike the right balance between fun and product to both attract and engage the ‘power of the people’.
To put it simply, before people are actually using your product or service, they are not consumers or customers. They are just an audience to whatever it is you are about to put out there, and audiences, like to be entertained.
Consumers Don’t Have An Attention Problem. It’s Just That Your Advertising Isn’t Very Good
With so much media available to consume, quality matters more than ever for ads.
If a brand releases an ad and no one sees it, is it still called “advertising”?
People have more tools than ever before to skip out on ads entirely. More than three-fourths of the people in North America engage in automated ad-blocking, and 10 percent of them block ads across four kinds of media or more, according to Deloitte. Much like the question of trees falling in forests, what good is a brand’s message at a time when people generally don’t want to hear its sound?
Ad units are shrinking in the wake of ad-blocking technology, but human attention span remains unchanged. Today’s consumers are surely more distracted than any previous generation, so they guard their attention spans more mercilessly. When advertisers can successfully command that attention for a minute or two, it means the consumer is watching an ad for the same reason he or she binge-watches Stranger Things on Netflix: The ad has managed to present itself as relevant or vital to the viewer. It wins every time.
Just 10 years ago, Gillette dominated the razor blade market. Its ads were comfortable, predictable 30-second units that reminded everyone of something they already knew: You need razor blades on the regular, so you might as well buy Gillette.
Related: Advertising Consulting Business Plan
But, the market had to reorganise itself with the appearance of Dollar Shave Club and its distinctly off-the-wall messaging. The notorious startup used quirky 90-second ads to spread its word online, presenting itself as unignorable by comparison to the competition. Even though we live in a time when people can skip ads, block ads and avoid ads, Dollar Shave Club’s marketing won major viral attention. It didn’t exactly kill Gillette’s Goliath, but it sure made Goliath sweat.
The lesson here is that people don’t hate all ads, they just hate the crappy ones. The bar for perceived quality in advertising is so low these days that many choose not to engage with anything on principle alone. People even close web pages they want to visit when the page auto-plays a video ad. When job number one of the advertiser is to interest consumers, it’s never been easier to annoy them.
Far from the rise of the six-second ad unit, there’s strong evidence that people generally want long-form content.
Ooyala reports that long-form video content consumption is up 30 percent from last year. Instagram used to be all about sharing individual photos and short videos, but now with the launch of IGTV supports 60-minute videos. The most widely subscribed YouTuber, PewDiePie, regularly posts 20-minute-long videos to a community of millions of fans. Joe Rogan’s podcast blends comedy, politics and philosophy for two to three hours at a stretch, and is one of the most popular podcasts on the internet.
People can, of course, handle stories and follow them over time. It’s one of the defining characteristics of humanity. But, there are so many stories competing for our attention nowadays that we are extremely selective about which ones we let into our lives. If any of these opt-in narratives will come from advertising, those ads must first run the ad-blocking gauntlet, then be immediately relevant and spectacular to the consumer upon arrival. The bar for perceived quality in advertising these days is actually quite high.
But, there is meaningful assistance on your way to clearing it. Social listening tools trawl the internet to learn what’s being said about and around different brands. With help from a company specialising in consumer insights and some Nielsen data, brands can better learn who their customers are, what they love and what they don’t love. This is key information in designing a vital, relevant message. In simplest terms, a brand must know its audience. The marketing needs to reflect what the audience is interested in, not what company leadership is interested in.
From there it’s only a matter of iterating and optimising. The great thing about digital advertising is that you get feedback instantly. You can iterate a campaign to make it better. Simple tweaks in copy, reframing key ideas and A/B testing can help make your campaign truly great.
Otherwise you run the risk of a mediocre campaign and a wasted media spend. No one wants to hear that sound.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
6 False Advertising Scandals You Can Learn From
Don’t stretch the truth the way Volkswagen, New Balance, Airborne, Splenda, Rice Krispies and Red Bull did.
New entrepreneurs are often tempted to exaggerate what new products or services are capable of. No wonder: Presented to a powerful investor, a stretch of the truth just might help land that series A funding.
And, less seriously, a bit of marketing flair or showmanship, in many cases, will help an entrepreneur accomplish his or her without many repercussions.
But, in other cases, if you’re that entrepreneur who is caught deliberately misleading investors or consumers, you could face false advertising charges – and the ruin of your brand’s reputation. Consider these six examples:
Forget Everything You’ve Heard — Fear Doesn’t Sell
If consumers associate your product with fear, they may not have a strong connection to your brand.
Sixty percent of Subaru owners have dogs. So in 2008, when the company decided to sponsor Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl, it made a major break from previous advertising campaigns — ones that showed drivers with other cars getting stuck in the snow, for example. Alongside a pledge to donate $250 to charity for every car sold, the company began to understand how to appeal to its core audience through their own interests — and how those tied together in a Subaru.
Since 2008, the company has been running a campaign called “Love,” one that brings together all the attributes that Subaru is known for — including safety and reliability. Instead of talking to customers by telling them all the bad things that will happen if they don’t drive a Subaru (e.g., getting stuck in the snow), the company began speaking in a more positive language — including bringing furry friends along on drives.
For many, the instinctive approach toward marketing is to tell an audience why they have to buy your product. Bad things will happen otherwise, and yours is the best in market. The others won’t help you reach your goal. The problem with that logic is that it doesn’t take into account the impact of brand image on product marketing. Sure, you might skid in the snow without a Subaru, but you need to think positively of the company as a whole if you’re going to be drawn to its products in the first place.
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