marketing

American Idol Syndrome

American_Idol

At WordCamp last month, one of the seminars I attended was called “5 Secrets of Tech Marketing” (as it was pointed out in the introduction, this seminar wasn’t “THE 5 Secrets,” just “5 Secrets”). The final point of the presentation focused on the idea that Good Marketing is people-centric. It shouldn’t be about you and making yourself look good, nor should it be about one-upping your competitors. Good marketing is about other people- your customers.

And then the presenter brought to my attention a term I’d never heard of before: “American Idol Syndrome.” She described it as what we frequently see with contestants on American Idol- those who have overcome significant adversity in their lives tend to get the most attention on the show. With a business, this syndrome translates into “Unless you’ve got a great background story, no one will care about your brand.” This type of marketing pulls the focus away from the product/service, how you can actually be beneficial to customers, and, most importantly, it can affect your authenticity. When you’re focusing your energy on creating some sort of adversity for yourself, your actual business measures are most likely going to suffer somehow.

Another definition for American Idol Syndrome is wanting to get famous without any of the hard work to get there, i.e. becoming an overnight sensation. This is a similar idea with marketing certain products or services. You hear about people pushing their new app or phone or what-have-you, but this person comes off as incredibly showy.

Either way, American Idol Syndrome is lame as a marketing technique. Here are some ideas to focus on instead:

 Do it for the People. Like the Seth Godin quote below says, if you are creating products and trying to force them on people, you may want to reevaluate your approach. As a business, you have a whole group of people (your clients/customers) looking to you. Ideally, they trust that you’re going to give them the best advice and service that you can. If you’re trying to come up with a new product or service to offer, your first thoughts shouldn’t be “What product can I devise that will make me a zillion dollars STAT,” or “What’s going to land me on the front page of Forbes in the next two seconds.” Sure, those are lovely goals to have in mind, but in order to create quality stuff, think about what your people need. What can you create that will make their lives better?

 

Godin_Marketing_Quote

Quality (or, Talent). With the American Idol analogy, this equals the quality of a person’s raw voice, without the instruments or amplifiers, or the showy costumes and back up dancers (are there back up dancers? I watched American Idol for one season, and I vaguely recall backup dancers). Sure, bells and whistles are fun and make a great show, but don’t be overly reliant on them. When you’re focused on the show rather than the song itself, you risk cheating your audience. They came for music- if they wanted to listen to someone playing auto-tune they would’ve downloaded the app and stayed at home. Quality (and sheer talent) isn’t something you can just phone in. If you’re doing something, and doing it well, people will notice. A little razzle dazzle is nice, but don’t blind people with glitter and showiness.

 Not all stories need to be comebacks. That may come off as a bit insensitive, but I’m talking brand stories, here. Your brand story doesn’t have to be all Forrest Gump or Rocky Balboa, as long as it’s authentic to your business. Being unique is great, and adversity builds character, but if it isn’t true to you, then it’s cool to bypass.

 

At the end of the slideshow, the presenter said, “Good marketing equals people. So, be a people.” This resonated with me because a) I felt like she was speaking my language, and b) it really is that simple. If you are trying to connect with someone as a corporate entity, chances are you won’t make a successful connection. When was the last time you identified with a corporation? Oh, Wal-Mart, you just get me!  File that under things no one has ever said. When you are marketing, just remember, it’s a conversation among human beings, not a “Hey watch me on national television and cast your vote” contest. 

Tech Thursday: Slow Your Roll with a Drip Campaign

At some point in your life, you’ve probably encountered a pushy salesperson who went from 0 to 60 in 2 seconds (that’s fast, right?). And as a business person, you don’t want to be “that guy.” So how do you slow your roll?

Consider the drip campaign. A drip campaign is a tool used in e-mail marketing that allows you to do a few things. Basically, once someone subscribes to one of your services (say, an e-mail newsletter), a drip campaign will send out a few e-mails over the course of time (say, a month), that gives people bite-sized, relevant information in an order that makes sense. It’s not overwhelming, and gives potential customers a chance to warm up to you before committing to a sale.



We had a lot of fun coming up with the analogies for drip campaigns! (Also, Kassie has not actually given herself a concussion from sneezing).

We Can All Go-Pro

A couple years ago, when I’d first heard of GoPro, I assumed it was something used exclusively by hardcore outdoorsy people or extreme sports enthusiasts. It may have started out that way, but after watching a 60 Minutes segment with Go-Pro CEO Nick Woodman the other night, it seems like this product has morphed into a household name. I felt pretty inspired by the whole thing.

GoProLogo

An Entrepreneur at Heart

In particular, Woodman’s entrepreneurial spirit captured my attention. Here was an almost 40 year-old guy who seems a LOT younger. This is not solely based on appearance, but use of words like “stoked” (which I love), his high energy level/exuberance, and clear passion for what he’s created. (As an additional disclaimer, I’m terrible at gauging other people’s ages). Go-Pro was by no means his first business idea. In the early 2000s, when he was 24 (my current age), he started a business called Funbug, which didn’t take off.

Everyone loves a comeback story.

Instead of giving up completely, Woodman retreated (abroad and then in his VW van) for some personal reflection, and came back with GoPro. The power of example here doesn’t just lie in the idea of perseverance. Sure, Woodman was wildly successful on his second go-around with innovation, but what struck me was how his approach changed. The idea and prototype process for GoPro started around 2001, but it took another ten or so years before it really took off (check out this timeline from Forbes for an in-depth look at GoPro’s story).

Video Sharing for All

But just why is something like Go-Pro so popular? Besides setting itself apart from regular cameras, or their rivals-the smartphone (it has been referred to as a “rugged gadget,” which seems accurate), GoPro found itself “in the right place at the right time.”



Video sharing, as discussed in a few of our other blog posts (like this one on SEO and online video), is becoming increasingly prominent in the online world. We have sites like Upworthy, YouTube, and Vine, which all rely on video content. GoPro offers a way to create and star in your own video, whether your idea of hardcore is slack-lining between skyscrapers or taking a swig of milk straight from the bottle (don’t act like you haven’t done it).

Example Footage:

Along the lines of the “every day,” there’s this video of the baby on a skateboard. People enjoy it because it’s cute, simple, and accessible. There wasn’t a huge amount of skill required for this particular video (although this baby would probably disagree), so people get the sense of “Oh yea, I could maybe make something like that!”

Other videos are a bit wilder. These take you on a different kind of journey, perhaps in a plummeting-to-the-ground-in-a-freefall sort of way. They’re fun to watch because many of them give you a sense that you’re there, too. You get to see what’s going on, from a safe distance, and who knows- maybe you’ll want to go do something bold, too. For those who enjoy skydiving, surfing, taming grizzlies, running with bulls, or that sort of activity, GoPro offers a way to document it and say “Hey, check out this thing I just did!”

Kudos to GoPro for showing us how marketing, perseverance and passion can help a business flourish (even if it takes some time). Who knows if I’ll ever go skydiving or do that crazy flying squirrel thing, but if I do, you can bet I’m getting it on film.

 

What Coke’s New Campaign Reminded Me About Marketing

shareacokeYou may have noticed that recently, Coke has been putting peoples’ names on bottles. The campaign is called ‘Share a Coke’. Simple, like many great ideas before it.

This is, of course, genius on a couple levels:

1) People are on the lookout for their own name so subconsciously, when they see a Coke label, they have some delight as they flip it around and look for their name. (P.S. The Michael bottle recall is not legit.)
2) Names are relatable and because of this, quite viral. Several people I know have been sharing photos to their friend’s walls when they see a bottle with the friend’s name on it or tagging other friends in their post to virtually share a Coke. (Also Coke had a few universal ones like ‘Friends’ and ‘Dad’.)
3) The campaign is in 50 countries so we can see unusual names on Coke bottles as people use international networks like Instagram and Pinterest.
4) It has a memorable and easy hashtag: #shareacoke (and the spinoff #shareacokewith). Over 300,000 shares on Instagram alone:

shareacokeinstagram



And you know your campaign is successful when a few jokes have spun out from it. Check out the ‘nativity’ scene with (‘Maria’ and ‘Angel’ among others) and the ‘still can’t find my name’ posts on Pinterest:

shareacokefunpinterest
It’s one thing to be kind of clever and market to a niche of people but it’s another to make an idea that’s simple enough for people to get and individual enough for people to personalize. Great job, Coke! *slow clap for Coke!

slowclapjoker

Tech Thursday: Why You Should Showcase

Do people ever ask to see examples of your work? Or, maybe they just wonder what you do in general.

Having a case study, or example of past work, ready for them makes everyone’s lives easier (if done correctly). In this video, we explain the What, Why, and How of showcasing.



Don’t just tell people, when you can show them! And then, you can make it rain.

Tech Thursday: Why E-mail Marketing is Cool

Yeah, that’s right. E-mail Marketing IS cool.

Unfortunately, not many people want to utilize this form of marketing, because they’d rather spend their time and energy in places like Facebook and Twitter.

In this video, we explain a few things e-mail marketing can do for you. Just because it’s not as flashy or popular as social media marketing doesn’t mean you should ignore it!



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