People are not crazy about dentists. They certainly don't enjoy stock traders. Lawyers? Pffft. No love for used car salesmen. And people despise marketers. But why?
Get this, marketing lords of this world: no one likes us because we are pompous. Some among us even lie for a living. Or at least distort the truth. Not only that, but we're boring. Not always, but most of the time. Nobody cares about our advertising. Nobody cares about what we have to say or what we have to sell. Nobody.
You think that’s a lie, right? That people do care. That people care about Adidas. That people care about Apple, MINI and Coca Cola. And I’ll say, "Yes, they do care about THOSE brands. But nobody cares about yours." You want to talk about benefits and generate sales now by offering deals and focusing on product attributes; conversely, these brands built their image by selling dreams and telling stories.
Imagine this: you’re in a boardroom, waiting for someone you don’t know, or barely know. He enters the room, introduces himself and starts talking about how great he is. How awesome and charming he is. That he is number one. That he cares. That he is loveable and honest, and that he is the best. And, of course, to top it all off, he’s a great deal. And then -- drop the mic -- he leaves the room. How would you feel about that person? You’d probably think, “What a jerk!” Yet many companies do this every single day.
It’s time to sell ideas and stop selling features and deals. It has been a painful experience for our consumers. It’s time to give love back. Here’s how:
- Be the underdog that tries harder. Every consumer loves a brand that's not full of itself. What they want is a brand that behaves like it cares. Not one that says it does, but one that actually does. Don’t say you are number one, or better, or the best. Act like it, and then tell a story with confidence. Even champions have doubts -- that’s what makes superheroes cool and loveable. People love the underdog. Be humble.
- Tell the fun truth. In marketing, some truths are fun and some are boring. Most marketers don’t sugar coat. “Just show the product, they say. Zero percent rates! No cash down! The boss is going crazy! Bobbo the clown will be here all day making balloon animals!” While this strategy may sell cars the day of, it won’t do anything long-term besides making you look cheap, and usually that is not an enduring proposition.
- Keep your story simple and entertaining. People are busy: kids, school, soccer games, working out, making dinner, working. It never stops. And as you get older, the pie of life just gets split into more pieces. According to conservative estimates, the average consumer is exposed to an average of 10,000 advertising messages daily. And you want people to remember your boring ad? They won’t, you're wasting money. Use your dollars wisely and entertain them instead -- then they will care. Why do you think people talk about movies and remember scenes line by line? Because they were entertained.
- Talk about why you exist. One way to get to your consumer’s heart is by aligning with the same cause. If you exist just to make chips and make money, you are dead in the water. Soon, people will choose some other chips to snack on. But if you sell chips and the reason you do it is to make the world a better place, then you have something. Focus on the why you do things and then build an endearing story around it -- and then live it and breathe it, 24/7. That's what we call brand purpose, baby.
- Be emotional. Emotions are everything. People like stories that can make them laugh or cry, and it’s the same with brands. There is a false belief in our business that everything needs to be rational and sequential and measurable, when in fact emotion is what drives people to behave a certain way. There is really no difference between a Mac and a Dell computer; fundamentally, they do the same thing. But one brand understands the value of emotions and one doesn’t. As of now, Apple’s stock is worth about 40 times Dell’s stock. When Steve Jobs -- a leader who understood the value of emotion -- was alive, it was probably closer to 50 times more valuable.
- Have fun. Stop taking yourself so dang seriously! Although we are talking about brand surgery, it is not life and death. But it can be life defining for your brand and for your consumers. If you approach your brand in a linear way with too much data and not enough oomph, your consumer will get bored or worse. They want to be entertained and the only way to do this is to make your brand behave like a human being would: spontaneous, lively, imperfect and fun.
Now go out there and give some love. Be the person that walks into a room and tells a touching or funny story about who you are and what you believe in. Give your consumer a gift. Entertain them. They’ll love you for it. And that's priceless.