The evolution to the age old medium of getting people to buy shit.
First off here are some kind words from one of the greats of advertising:
Our business is infested with idiots who try to impress by using pretentious jargon. - David Ogilvy
Thanks, Ogilvy. Let's crack on.
Old vs new, static vs lean
Advertising is and always has carried a negative connotation with most. The fact is that regardless of what you are advertising or how you are doing it, people know what your end goal is. That being said there are cleaner ways of marketing your product, service or brand that most fail to see.
A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself. - David Ogilvy
The cover image of this post really expresses the dullest form of marketing, the most straight-forward, simple-minded, un-inspired, tried and somewhat-true, age old medium of advertising; big f***ing banners. All they do is attract attention to themselves, without selling the product.
If ever there was a way to be static and in-your-face, this would be it. The interesting part is, regardless of the lack of inspiration and creativity, the straight-forwardness of these banners has it’s role. It’s simple, clean. Intrusive, yes but also somewhat refined. The struggle here is the clutter, how you are supposed to stand out in that sea of color.
I want in this post to convince that you should not abandon the old ways of advertising, but embrace the best aspects, and adjust to modern practice.
Think of a modern spin on a classic movie. Think of black and white but in the 21st century. This is where our mind should be.
The evergreen principles
There are “evergreen” principles to go by that will always be apparent in marketing. Things that will always work and should always be practiced, but need to be adapted to whatever medium you are pursueing.
- Simplify your message
- Stand for something
- Create experiences
- Turn customers into evangelists
- Use facts
- Tell the truth
- The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.
- Be relevant
- Be bold, stand out
- Benefit people
I find these truths to be self evident. Okay, so they aren’t that glorious but they do work.
To elaborate on a few points, “simplify your message” could be summed up in one Apple advertisement.
iPod. 1000 songs in your pocket.
It’s simple, factual, truthful, relevant, informative, and stands out. The iPod is arguably one of the main products that thrust Apple back into the limelight after Steve’s return.
The facts are though that Steve had one better on most advertisers. Steve controlled the product, and controlled it well. Most don’t have the luxury that Steve had, to be able to build his dream and then tell the world about it. Typically advertisers are contracted to promote products they don’t necessarily believe in, or even downright don’t like. This point should be an amendment to the 10 listed above.
Make sure you believe in what you’re marketing — if you don’t believe in it, no one else will.
David Ogilvy is one of the all-time marketing greats, the original mad-men. He had strict beliefs in marketing — beliefs that held up, that worked and that moved the needle on some of the biggest brands in world.
His style of advertising was one of information, class, and simplicity.
David believed in the modern day principles of “Inbound marketing” as it was then referred to as “Direct Response marketing.” Essentially the art of giving people all the information they could need or want and letting that information drive their buying preference. You tell the truth, and you give context, you expose the things that make your product unique and in turn you polarize and educate your audience.
Push vs pull marketing
Inbound marketing as explained above is actually the art of “pull” marketing. Marketing that isn’t disruptive or intrusive, but interests the consumer and pulls them in with information and content.
Push marketing would be like pop-up banners on a website, adsense on search results or an ad clip before a YouTube video.
Push marketing is intrusive, disruptive, annoying, yet sometimes if given the right audience can be effective. Pull marketing is user-driven, informative, consensual and nearly always effective.
Pull marketing would be like blogging, videos, tutorials, screencasts, webinars, organic search results, infographics, ebooks, whitepapers, email newsletters (that are not paid-lists but user-signup based), social media marketing, community based promotion and the like.
Pull marketing establishes trust in the company and is usually found through a trustworthy medium. Pull marketing brings users to a deeper point in the buying funnel under their own volition.
A user who reads an informative blog post about a product is 50% more likely to convert on that product that one who does not. This is just a small example of how powerful pull marketing can be if used with the same evergreen principles explained before.
So how do we create better advertising? How do we make this transition from push to pull?
It’s in benefitting people, individuals, and creating relationships that the modern secret of advertising hides. It’s always been present as an evergreen principle, though most bad advertising has shrouded it in fluff.
Benefitting people is the greatest way to establish trust, and to advertise without the user realizing you’re doing it.
Be creative, as there is always a unique way to benefit your customers. Your customers are unique to you, they have problems, questions or concerns that you can help with directly so build a solution and provide them with answers.
Services could be as simple as the ideal of free-wifi in a cafe. Or as complex as a Google’s search algorithm’s change history. The key is to connect the dots and create synergy between what matters to your customer and what you have to offer. Then tell people about it.
Pull marketing will sometimes bring out some pitfalls in your product line, service offering or overall company. Don’t be shy to these pitfalls, embrace them and bolster them. Make your weaknesses your strengths and solidify your niche. By having the information that people want, they are going to come to you by means of organic attraction. Google wants to promote the information that should be seen by the world, and if yours solves a problem for your group of users better than anyone elses, you will be noticed and tossed into the forefront.
Obviously this does not mean “don’t marketing your stuff, just build good stuff” it should all be cohesively aligned.
Just as Steve Jobs spoke about design:
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
I would say that marketing is not just where you are shown. It’s what is shown and how it helps.
Is what you have worth showing? Do you help or just put out fluff? What makes you unique from the group? If it’s nothing then there isn’t anything to set you apart and you have no chance in the new age of marketing.
Inspiration and motivation
Companies such as GoPro, Redbull and Apple have created multi-billion dollar companies by instilling us with a sense of inspiration and motivation.
These companies create an evangelist in every customer by letting them feel that they can be great.
GoPro tells you to “Be a hero”
Redbull “Gives you wings!”
Apple tells you to be a rebel, be a pirate and to “think differently”
Inspiring your customers will propel your marketing via word of mouth faster than any other emotion there is. People who are inspired want to share what they are inspired about, what excites them and what they are dying to do.
The brilliance in this sort of marketing from GoPro is that their product is the content generator, their users the producers, and all they have to do is facilitate a medium to present their users to the world.
GoPro knew from the beginning that their greatest marketing ability was through word of mouth, seeing as that is exactly what the company was founded on.
Nick Woodman created his first GoPro camera when he went on a surfing trip and wanted a waterproof camera to snap some shots as he road. He made a waterproof wrist mount for his camera and hit the waves. As he was out there many surfers were asking him about his camera, and asked if they could buy one. He saw an instant demand and spent his savings on getting a mold built in China, patenting his original design and getting the initial round of cameras out.
He saw the opportunity immediately with word of mouth marketing, and knew the experience had to be social. As a young company, that was being bootstrapped from a not-so-large savings account, there was no room for large advertising. No tv-spots, no times-square banners. Hardly even a website initially (if you use the wayback machine on the GoPro site you’ll see what I mean). He knew it was social where they had to play.
The plan is simple, make a sweepstakes from the site to give away one of everything they make to 2 people every day. Announce the winners on social media and link them over to the site. Also post a “pic of the day” curated from any user who uploads a picture shot on the GoPro to their facebook page. Also a “video of the day” to any user who uploads a video shot on the GoPro to YouTube. GoPro then promotes the images and videos and the users that post them to everyone following GoPro’s social media profiles.
GoPro’s Facebook profile now has nearly 6,000,000 followers, their Twitter has nearly 700,000 and their YouTube channel has nearly 1,000,000 subscribers.
GoPro’s integration with inspiring an audience and creating a synergy between their product and their marketing thrust them from being a $5,000 startup to over a billion dollar company in a time-frame so fast it would make most entrepreneurs heads spin.
Now each time GoPro has a new camera or product to launch they release one of their inside-produced videos shot completely on their HD GoPro cameras, and each one they release has millions more views than the last.
There is not a video I watch like this that I do not say “I need to get one” at the end of. Not unlike each time a new Apple product is released. The knee-jerk “I NEED IT!” is deep seeded in our love for the culture, and of the company.
Of course as a small caveat, I’m a complete adrenaline junkie, and having something to catalogue my insanity is always a must. I fell in love with GoPro from the first video I saw from them, their first HDHERO video. I got the camera, started using it and love it, and then fell in love with their marketing.
The Mediums of new marketing
The marketing mediums will always be changing, but really the principles remain the same. Learn the principles and don’t be scared to adapt to change.
Billboards to website banners.
Phone books to local listings.
Tv ads to YouTube videos.
Cold calling to email marketing.
Infomercials to infographics.
Print magazines to websites and social media.
The list can go on and on. The focus should be on the content that you are putting out, making sure it deserves to exist, and making sure you are reaching the right people depending on where you are advertising.Don’t add to the fluff, be unique and stand out. Embrace what makes your company different and express it in everything you do.Don’t set out to advertise, for the sake of advertising.
Make the world a better place, and gain your following organically. Don’t ruin something with advertising.
Follow your instinct to show you where you need to go, how you should be promoting and what you can uniquely add to the equation.
I will end on another sweet little note from David Ogilvy.
I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.
I initially posted this blog on Medium, you can see it here!