ART OF MARKETING PT II
The recipe isn’t complex. Add a dash of industry expertise, a half dozen seasoned speakers, and a spoonful of networking opportunities. Stir in some inspirational narrative and voila!
Don’t you just love conferences?
I always leave them feeling inspired, energized, and ready to conquer the world. But that inspiration soon fades and then I’m back to binge-watching Ted Talks and referencing vague, motivational Twitter quotes.
It’s been a few weeks since I went to the Art of Marketing Conference in Toronto and I’m still feeling inspired. Last time we spoke, I shared some tips to help you promote your brand or cause with insights from Ann Handley and Ron Tite.
Let’s talk about what Terry O’Reilly and Ryan Holiday had to say.
Here’s what I learned at The Art of Marketing (Part II):
Terry O’Reilly host of CBC Radio’s Under The Influence, speaker, author, and podcaster shared his expertise on branding and advertising. The highlight of Terry’s presentation? His impeccable ability to tell stories.
Terry told us the story of Van Halen’s meticulous tour contract and how the band notoriously asked for M&Ms with the brown ones removed. If the group arrived at a venue with brown M&Ms, they would cancel their entire show.
Photo credit: Colter Reed
Why? When promoters missed small contractual details like no brown M&Ms, they would also often overlook other critical technical requirements that could jeopardize the safety of the band and its fans.
The moral? Attention to detail is everything!
We also talked about a case study for The Hans Brinker Budget Hotel and its brutally honest advertising campaign. The brand managed customer expectations by calling itself the worst hotel in the world. It didn’t pretend to be something it wasn’t. People wanted to see how bad the hotel actually was and its room sales increased as a result.
Creativity loves constraint and tension fuels creativity.
Photo source: Hans Brinker Hostel Amsterdam
Terry also shared the strategy behind a notable campaign he worked on for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO). The issue? An aging demographic and declining ticket sales meant that the TSO needed to attract a younger audience. So how did he solve the problem? He did what every copywriter should do, he went to a show. Because…
You should never write about something that you haven’t experienced.
Terry saw that there were barriers to attending the symphony. Young people might not know what to wear, how to clap, and they might not feel welcome. The strategy didn’t tunnel around the issue, it dealt with it head on.
Because the solution is always hidden inside of the obstacle.
Instead of doing what the organization always did, the ads used bold language, featured no classical music and showed that the TSO wasn’t stuck up. People had never heard that type of language from the TSO and it surprised them. The result? A huge increase in sales and more media coverage. So learn the rules before you break them and make your strategy meaningful.
Strategy must live outside the boardroom.
Create a culture where people aren’t afraid to come up with the craziest, silliest ideas. Think outside the boundaries of your category, jump the fence, and remove artificial confines to reach new levels of creativity.
Photo source: Tech Crunch
Ryan Holiday, author, journalist, and former director of marketing for American Apparel shared his take on growth hacker marketing.
Ryan defines himself as a growth hacker: Someone who pursues growth that is systemic, scalable, and trackable. However, there are many ethical issues that arise from a ‘growth at any cost’ mentality. As the former director of marketing for American Apparel, he is no stranger to controversial campaigns.
Ryan’s process for hatching innovative ideas involves writing a press release before creating something new to see if it’s marketable. He also talked about Souljah Boy’s big break into the music industry as an example.
Who is Souljah Boy you ask?
Photo source: A3c Festival
Souljah Boy is a rapper whose career took off through growth hacking and guerilla marketing tactics. While he did have an online following, he wasn’t signed to a record label when he recorded “Crank That” and put the song up for download. The catch? He renamed the song with the title of other popular, trendy songs at the time. So if you were trying to download a Britney Spears song for example, you got this instead…
He essentially tricked people into downloading his music in order to gain attention. Luckily the song was catchy and Souljah Boy became the first artist to sell more than 3 million digital copies of his music. This gives new meaning to the term, fake it ‘til you make it.
The point is that virality is not an accident; brands like Groupon use referrals to spread their message. iPhone and Blackberry use email signatures to let others know what phone their customers are using. Using tactics like referral codes makes it worthwhile for customers to share and talk about your brand. How can you adapt a growth hacker mindset? Build social sharing into your ideas!
“Do what people tell you not to do.” – Ryan Holiday
Spoken like a true rebel.
Make your message compelling, do whatever it takes to get your product to market, and do something no one else has done before.
Look for part three of my review of The Art of Marketing featuring highlights from Troy Carter on managing Lady Gaga, touring with Biggie and his life before and after the music industry, and Jonah Berger on influence and consumer behaviour. What’s your biggest marketing challenge? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.