Oh, the wonder of beautifully crafted taglines. Those few strategically selected words that sum up everything your business stands for and what you want your target audience to know about you. They’ve made companies fortunes by telling people what makes them stand out in the sea of sameness. Consider FedEx’s brilliant “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” Nine simple words that tell FedEx buyers precisely what they’re going to get, while simultaneously informing all of its employees what their mission is. What if FedEx’s slogan was “We ship things fast!”? Would Nike have been as successful had it allowed an executive committee to red-pencil “Just do it” into “When you need great running shoes”? How would BMW’s vision have changed if “The Ultimate Driving Machine” had become “Our cars are fun to drive!”? My point is that these companies didn’t settle for weak platitudes or vague, generalized statements that could have applied to their competitors. Nope, they decided that they weren’t going to settle. Instead standing out and differentiating themselves was business-critical. Can the same be said for your company and its marketing? Do you have a theme line or slogan that makes you stand out? Is it unique and memorable? Or is it mediocre because somewhere down the line, people settled?
Let’s face it, we have a tendency to settle. Or pick the first “right” answer. It’s almost human nature. We settle for something that’s not just quite ideal, an outfit that isn’t our absolutely best look, a job that doesn’t maximize our talents, or an ad or website page that’s okay or just “good enough.” While the act of compromise in life, relationships and particularly conflict is an admirable trait, compromise or “settling for” in marketing is a death knell.
The whole point of your marketing activities is to get noticed, get engaged with your audience, and have your efforts be acted upon to bring in the business. Alternatively, anonymity, swimming in the center of a school of other fish, may be a good survival tactic if you are an anchovy, but it is not a good survival tactic for business. So you have to wonder why so much marketing – and so many marketers – feel the need to play follow-the-leader with respect to marketing trends.
The logic is that if others have done something successfully, you just need to do the same thing. Well, maybe. And then again, maybe not. As we all know, breakthrough products and breakthrough marketing campaigns are not achieved through conformity. Note the word “break” in breakthrough. These are the products and campaigns that break the rules. These are the products and campaigns that use insight, intuition, experience, sensitivity to the marketplace – and arguably the most important thing….courage – to do things differently. To break away from the status quo. And for anything that has to do with marketing funeral products and services to consumers, the need is greatest.
It is certainly true that most companies don’t have that innate insight and courage to be successfully different. We can’t all be like Steve Jobs. But for those are willing to do things differently and well, for those who want their companies to stand out, then the only rule that matters is: You cannot achieve exceptional success through conformity.
To that end, you can have your brand and product/service stand out if you’re willing to take a risk. For starters, ask yourself these three questions:
1. What’s can you say about your organization, or its products or services that’s seen as a unique, fresh alternative to your competitors? Think beyond the obvious. Dig deeper. Ask yourself a bunch of “So what does that mean?” and “Why would our customer care?” with each answer that’s given.
2. What medium makes the most sense for your brand? The goal is to create a campaign that drives conversation and ultimately revenue. So what imaginative or different ways should be explored and implemented? Look at all the possible media selections there are today (while considering which audiences consume which media most) and think about how you could maximize the channel inventively.
3. How will you execute your campaign? Don’t risk looking amateurish or waste money by trying to save money. Be big with a Big Idea, even if it means that some people will dislike it. (Do you think everybody loved “Got Milk?” when it was first presented? Bad English, negative tone, no benefit.) Dare to be outrageous and unexpected. Sameness never gets noticed or acted upon. If you have to go outside to find talented solutions, do it. But, for gosh sakes, don’t settle for an uninspired idea.
Clearly, whether it is investing in advertising, developing more creativity, spending the time to follow-up or making the effort to engage with your customers, smart business requires that you elevate your marketing past the point of blah to Wow. Just as winning athletes don’t settle, you have to go all-out to win in the race for more customers and a stronger bottom line. Reaching for brilliance every time is the key.
Dan Katz is president, creative director of LA ads. To discuss your thoughts with Dan on this blog or any marketing matters, email via this link, or visit www.LAadsMarketing.com. You can also connect with Dan on LinkedIn.See agency work via this link.