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The Truth About Why Your Marketing Fails (and How to Produce a "Wow" Instead)

The Truth About Why Your Marketing Fails (and How to Produce a "Wow" Instead)

Extremely creative marketing is certainly nothing new, but it is exceptionally rare. No, I am not talking about cool graphics, quirky scripts, and high paid spokespersons like William Shatner as the Priceline Negotiator. I am talking about “holy cow, did they just really do that? Can they really do that? Who the heck thought of this?” And last but not least, “I have got to show this to my friends!”

I know, you're not Red Bull and can't run a Felix Baumgartner, multiple world record skydiving campaign that garners 2 million Youtube views in the first 24 hours. Maybe you can't give away one of your products everyday like GoPro does. The question isn't, “can you put a man 128,000 feet in the sky and get him to jump out of whatever contraption took him there.” No, the question is, “what can you do that is remarkable?” As in, literally worthy of being remarked upon by others.

In fact, I just did a whole presentation on using audio, video, and imagery to do just that. At the end of the presentation I asked people to get creative with the toy army men and straws I had put on the tables. The header picture, taken by me, shows what Troy Sandlin was able to create with just those two items. It was remarked upon by all.

Okay, I'll concede that standard marketing does provide some value. That is, if it is properly executed. More often than not though, it doesn't reach its full potential because it lacks WOW. People ask me all the time, and have for years, how they can get something to go viral. How can we do something that is popular, shared, and talked about? Then, when given possible ideas, the feedback is almost always the same. They say things like, "That sounds a bit out-there," or "we can't devote that kind of budget," or "let's do something a bit more safe." And one of my favorite responses is, "I'm not sure that will work for us."

Marketing Wow. Seth Godin's Free Prize Inside.In reality, you need something a bit out there to distinguish your message from all the other marketing drivel. You need to devote a budget sufficient enough to win business, otherwise why do any marketing? And "safe" is likely to be analogous to waste. Don't just do cool graphics; spend the money and put your book in a cereal box which just begs to be displayed and picked up off the shelf. That is what Seth Godin did with Free Prize Inside. Yeah, I bought it.

Admittedly, this path has roadblocks. An idea I had for signage was recently shot down because it would have been too disruptive to the status quo and quote "would set a precedent." Well now Mr. Signage Space Seller, we certainly wouldn't want to make ROI for advertisers a habit, now would we?

Where was I? Oh yeah, why marketing fails...

  1. It fails because you want to slap a QR Code on something without testing, strategy, or heaven forbid, paying for it. Because the interwebz are free and you won't go this far with a QR Code.
  2. It fails because you don't want to pay for products, only to destroy them, to prove the power of your blenders, like these guys did. Oh, and because you don't want to be on camera.
  3. It fails because you couldn't possibly do low budget versions of the Delite-o-matic, Push to add drama, or So Real it’s Scary viral campaigns. Oh wait, maybe you can. Dollar Shave Club did.
  4. It fails because you don't do things like this video (see below), which prompted this post.

Thanks to my friend John Kaufeld for mentioning this Skyfall Viral - Coke Zero Promo. Now it is your turn. Commiserate with me here. Tell me a story about the anonymous client that just "didn't get it." How about you take the challenge and commit to doing something that qualifies as WOW marketing in 2013.

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Join The Conversation

  • Feb 14 Posted 2 years ago MontyFuller

    Marketing has evolved so much in the past years, and one has to catch up real fast. I believe that this is brought about on the fast influx of information everyday – information is readily accessible by us. Gone are the days when it is just enough to produce print advertisements, leaflets or get a nice looking banner to bring to events. Now, it is more on content marketing, deliver it well with attractive looking displays or info graphics, and encourage interaction and engagement. It has to produce a WOW factor, as detailed in this article. It is best to have such WOW factor translating into engagement, and into viral marketing.

  • Angelique's picture
    Oct 27 Posted 2 years ago Angelique

    I love this post! I'll be sharing it with my Facebook followers this week. I have heard ALL of the excuses you list: "This stuff is supposed to be free!" "But we already have an image!" "We just want you to tweak the stuff we have; we don't want to do anything new." And they wonder why business is blah. 

  • Oct 25 Posted 2 years ago mandle55

    Some really good points, i will put to use.

  • Lindsey Weedston's picture
    Oct 25 Posted 2 years ago Lindsey Weedston

    Wow, I don't normally like Coke, but now I want to go out and buy some because I'm just so proud of them.

    This reminds me of a piece SEOmoz did about "big content." Things like this will end up costing more, in time and effort if not in actual cash, but so often it's worth it. You just have to come up with a solid plan first.

    I'll be working on a project for a new design website, so I'll take the challenge for 2013. If it's successful, I'll post my story here.