In all the marketing material I've read, whether directly or indirectly, I've noticed that every aspect of marketing logic seems to revolve around the four following fundamentals. Even the most complex marketing strategy can be boiled down and simplified to one of these points.
1. Success is found by looking at the bigger picture
Success with any marketing endeavor is found by taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. In other words: thinking out of the box. Of course, it's easier said than done. There's no one-size-fits-all magical answer to help you think out of the bubble for every marketing project.
The key to looking at the bigger picture is getting a fresh perspective. There are million different ways to go about doing that. In my article 6 Practices for Brilliant Ideas I present six concepts to help you think out of the box:
- Transfer the medium (the emotion) of something you love into your project.
- Collaborate with people who are in a completely different and unrelated area.
- Change your perspective by mixing up and changing your routines.
- Challenge yourself by limiting yourself with your tools.
- Try to look at the world from the mind-set of your age of innocence.
- Consider your humanity by linking the unrelated.
2. People like stories
Society trains us (or rather, brainwashes us) to be logical thinkers. Logical thinking likes to pull us toward a direction of explaining something in a straightforward manner. Logical thinking gives birth to boring PowerPoint presentations with a sea of nauseating bullet points. Enter storytelling: it breaks the mold and creates a presentation that people are interested in. For over 27,000 years, since the first cave paintings were discovered, telling stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods. A story can put your whole brain to work; our brains are wired for them.
People despise advertising. On the Internet we've grown to block out advertisements from our perception. In today's fast-paced 'always on' world, storytelling is the only way to engage people and get them to listen to our marketing message. Stories especially engage people if they can relate to the story.
Storytelling is a popular and well documented subject in marketing. You can find plenty of marketing articles on storytelling. Clever marketing today uses storytelling to, of course, tell a story or talk about something interesting without mentioning the brand until the very end. All those viral YouTube videos by companies use storytelling. In articles and blog posts, storytelling is often used with native advertising.
3. Everything you say & do should tell your audience that you can solve their problems
It's easy to think that the best way to engage your audience is to tell them how qualified you are in helping them. Instead of saying “I have X and Y certifications, so I'm an expert!”, it's better to say “I have X and Y certifications to solve your exact problems.” If you're, say a plumbing company, people don't care how good you are at plumbing. They just want to know if you can specifically fix their toilet quickly and effectively; it's as simple as that.
4. People like things they're already familiar with
People like what they already know. Nostalgia, for example, is big business these days. There are theatrical remakes of 80s cartoons and superhero movies left and right. The Postmodern Remakes YouTube channel is very popular right now for pumping out heavy nostalgia with their top 40 and Saturday Morning remakes.
When your message/ad begins, your audience should already be saying in the back of their head “Oh I know that place. Oh I know about that problem. Oh I remember that when I was little. Oh I know about that recent trend.”
The best examples of these fundamentals can be found in any future marketing material that you read from now on or in any advertisement that catches your attention. If you come across a good idea, ask yourself how the author/creator might have come up with that idea:
- Are they thinking out of the box?
- Are they telling a story?
- Are they expressing how they can solve problems?
- Are they referencing pop culture or nostalgia?
Dissect their creative process. If you come up with an answer that makes sense to you, you can mimic their creative process and apply it to your own projects.
Interested in learning Internet Marketing? Here's some recommended reading:
- Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation - I love Sally Hogshead. This is pretty much a Marketing 101 book, but Sally makes it fun and easy to read. By organizing marketing concepts into 7 triggers, she makes advertising easy to understand.
- Always On: Advertising, Marketing, and Media in an Era of Consumer Control - An excellent, relatively short book that covers every area of Internet Marketing.
- The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design - A superb book about the proper way to create a brand. It's also relatively short.