3 Parts of ‘Smart’ Marketing

I find myself pondering all of the things I’ve learned in my career about what’s smart, and what’s not so smart about marketing today. The following are three “parts” of marketing strategies that never fail for brands big and small, as well as in all industries.

smart marketingWith this month’s release of my new book — “Marketing for Dummies,” a new edition that focuses on the digital era — I find myself pondering all of the things I’ve learned in my career about what’s smart, and what’s not so smart about marketing today. The following are three “parts” of marketing strategies that never fail for brands big and small, as well as in all industries.

It’s Not About Creative

Thinking that the more clever or shocking your advertising is, the more your sales will go up is a trap that many big brands fall into. Take a look at the Super Bowl ad phenomenon.

GoDaddy historically does the worst, most tasteless ads every year. Yet they have experienced consistent growth each year and are at a pace to grow 20 percent. On the flip side, Budweiser always has the most heart-warming, talked-about ads with its horses and puppies, and quite often earns the coveted “most-liked ad” in the USA listings the day after. Yet, as pointed out in an article in Money.com, during their roll of Super Bowl ad success, sales have been going down along with their dominance in the beer category.

The takeaway here is clear: Creative entertains and builds name recall, but not necessarily sales results. If you are okay to entertain with your ads and not worry about the impact on sales, then go hire a creative team who can create a mini-movie in 30 seconds. If you need advertising to drive sales, ROI and profitability, like most businesses, then put your resources into the next three parts. Not saying creative is not important, but it should not be what drives your marketing strategy. What should drive it is a product of the knowledge you have about what inspires, moves, motivates and engages your customers — consciously and unconsciously.

Consumers disliked GoDaddy's Super Bowl ad in 2015.
Consumers disliked GoDaddy’s Super Bowl ad in 2015.

Empathy Is the Foundation

The definition of empathy is: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Now more than ever, understanding consumers’ and what moves them to engage, trust and assign loyalty is critical for acquisition and retention. CRM and data analytics platforms and so many more programs help us understand how and why consumers make choices so we can build highly relevant content to deploy across channels used daily by those we want to reach most.

Yet, if our communications focus only on what we learn from “data” about their transactions, we fall short. We need to understand what drives consumers emotionally and psychologically to engage. What are the feelings that influence their ability to trust and what actions create positive feelings toward brands? As I’ve written in many columns and throughout my book, these feelings that drive consumers toward our brands are much deeper than the satisfaction with our products or services. They are the feelings associated with what drives human nature: a sense of belonging, respect, value and altruism toward common causes.

Your communications and marketing content needs to be rooted in “empathy” of shared feelings and mutual understanding. With all of the research about consumers’ values and their support for companies that engage in sincere CSR programs, it’s not hard to get a glimpse of the feelings that move sales today.

Survival Is in Our DNA

After years of studying human psychology and how it drives choice and behavior, this single fundamental element of human nature stands out the most: We are wired for survival, just like any species is, and all of our thoughts and actions follow suit.

Survival relates not just to our physical well-being, but to every aspect of our lives. Consciously, and more so unconsciously, our need to survive socially, professionally, and emotionally is part of the big and small choices we make daily. Shopping for a dress for the company holiday party is not just about what makes you look good, it’s about projecting the image you believe will help you look powerful, sophisticated, and smart in order to maintain your current position or ready you for a new one that is better and enhances your professional and financial position.

When you can create personalized communications, or mass communications around key personas for your customer groups, you hit the emotional chords that get customers to engage and start a journey with your brand to see if it will lead them to a stronger position in the areas of life that matter most to them: social, professional, emotional, financial and more.

Conclusion

While there are many more than three parts of survival for brands marketing products and services in today’s dynamic and complex market environments, these three fundamentals are part of any “smart” marketing plan. No matter what level you are in your marketing career, you will “dummy” down your short- and long-term results if you don’t apply empathy, address the survival DNA, and keep your creative or marketing content relevant to these two drivers.

7 Feelings That Add Warmth to Copywriting

Sometimes we get too close to the bells and whistles of our products and services. When that happens, it can be helpful to step back and remember what is near and dear to the heart of your prospective customer. Push away bright, shiny features and techno-speak, and ask yourself if any of these seven feelings can open a new pathway for you to be invited inside your prospect’s mind

Sometimes we get too close to the bells and whistles of our products and services. When that happens, it can be helpful to step back and remember what is near and dear to the heart of your prospective customer. Push away bright, shiny features and techno-speak, and ask yourself if any of these seven feelings can open a new pathway for you to be invited inside your prospect’s mind.

As marketers, we know there are many ways to persuade someone to read or listen to your sales message, such as money, success, respect, and influence.

But perhaps you need an emotional hook. With simplicity and emotion in mind, here are seven feelings where you can bring warmth and emotion to your copy and message.

  1. Family: What more important value than the love a person has for family? Family-centered safety and warmth is a winner about every time it’s used. When most people think about what’s most important in their lives, it’s family.
  2. Friends: Including friends into a sales message can free up the mind from the drudgery of day-to-day work. And most people associate friends with entertainment, time together, and sharing of personal relationships.
  3. Fun: With our senses so often bombarded with negative news, a fun or playful spirit in your sales message can lighten the mental load. Most people would rather play than work. Fun invites involvement. Involvement invites response.
  4. Food: This tasty four-letter F-word gets your attention, doesn’t it? Now that you’ve read it, you might be salivating. Just the word “food” can trigger basic human desire to eat (that snack or dessert sure you’re imagining tastes yummy, doesn’t it?).
  5. Fashion: Deep down, we want to look good. And clothes and fashion help create a personal branding statement. Most people want to be attractive, and most people are attracted to others who look good.
  6. Fitness: People have good intentions about being fit and healthy, even if they don’t want to hit the gym and know they could do better. So, get attention by conveying how you can contribute to someone’s improved health.
  7. Fido/Felines: When was the last time you watched a video on social media featuring a cat or dog? You can admit it. We all do. So you can hardly go wrong when you introduce a lovable or quirky pet into your marketing message.

Simple emotions? Yes. But sometimes we all a little nudge to remind us it’s the small things that stir our feelings.

Stimulating Action With Color

There is growing scientific evidence of how the brain processes color and how color impacts our feelings and how we respond. Over the years, some direct marketers have wondered about color’s contribution to the overall success of direct mail. However, color usually isn’t high on the list of test priorities. But you don’t have to go with your gut, considering what research

There is growing scientific evidence of how the brain processes color and how color impacts our feelings and how we respond. Over the years, some direct marketers have wondered about color’s contribution to the overall success of direct mail. However, color usually isn’t high on the list of test priorities. And unless you have great flexibility to test colors, most direct marketers simply go with the colors they feel will work best. But you don’t have to go with your gut, considering what research is telling us.

Today I’ll share with you recent research from university studies, along with The Theory of Colours by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, first published in 1810.

Goethe published one of the first color wheels and shared psychological impact. His theories are still widely used:

  • Red conveys gravity and dignity.
  • Yellow connotes brightness and soft excitement, yet noble.
  • Blue is at odds with itself, being both exciting and retreating.
  • Green is reassuring.

So how do these 200-year-old conclusions stack up against recent research that expands into more colors? A 2014 study of logos by the University of Missouri-Columbia suggests additional consideration:

  • Blue logos invoked feelings of confidence, success and reliability.
  • Green logos invoked perceptions of environmental friendliness, toughness, durability, masculinity and sustainability.
  • Purple logos invoked femininity, glamor and charm.
  • Pink logos gave the perception of youth, imagination and fashion.
  • Yellow logos invoked perceptions of fun and modernity.
  • Red logos brought feelings of expertise and self-assurance.

Other recent studies from the University of British Columbia in 2009 and Dartmouth College in 2011 make these observations:

  • People have emotional responses to color, and linking color responses to our brain’s neural processes. The brain is most triggered by red, then green, then blue.
  • Red can make people’s work more accurate. Blue can make people more creative.
  • People tested with red, blue or neutral backgrounds on computer screens found red to be more effective for recall and attention to detail. Blue was better for creating imagination.
  • If you seek “avoidance” action (for example, toothpaste for cavity prevention), studies show red to have greater appeal. Conversely, if you seek “positive” action (for example, “tooth whitening”) then blue holds more appeal.
  • Across cultures, red represents “no.” It’s a common emotional association that is innate. A study involving monkeys (who don’t process the meaning of a red stop sign) found that the animals avoided humans who wore red.
  • Red is also credited with helping people focus.
  • Red is a color of stimulation.
  • Blue is more relaxing and calming.

Remember, though, when considering colors: You must consider context. The visual impact of words or images in isolated environments can be different than when you are trying to connect a user to a brand, website or direct mail package.

Bottom line: As you prepare your next direct mail package, print ad, website, landing pages or video background, consider your environment and desired reaction from your prospective customers. Use colors that can stimulate, then calm, your prospective customer’s minds.