You can’t swing a dead cat in the marketing industry without hearing hype about another app, plug-in, feed, feature or social media platform you should be using.
(Not that we’re swinging dead cats. Just live ones. Very, very gently…)
And then there are the buzzwords. For a while, it was all about Early Adopters and Growth Hacking. Then Innovators and Content Curation were hot topics. Now everyone wants to be a Disruptor with their Snackable Content.
So is it better to be an Innovator or a Disruptor? Consider this: if we’re taking the lead and commanding a massive market share, do we really care what we call it?
Nope. We don’t care.
Because we’re too busy being awesome instead of just projecting the appearance of awesomeness. Because ignoring the buzz and the hype – and, instead, putting our noses to the proverbial grindstone – produces better results than bandwagon-hopping. Because the best marketing ideas are timeless; they never become obsolete.
So here are five tried-and-true, buzzword-free marketing best practices that always work.
1. Be a consistent brand – but also be willing to reinvent yourself.
The best brands are known not just for their quality, but for their consistency. We know exactly who they are, what they’re about, and what we can expect from them. Think Nike, Ford, Apple, and Coca Cola – if a logo never graced your screen, you’d still recognize any one of their ads. We the consumers don’t like surprises, and we choose brands that we believe are reliable.
There is, however, an important distinction to make here: the best brands, like the ones mentioned above, are consistent and reliable, yes – but they’re not stale. Each of these companies has reinvented themselves time and again to maintain relevance and, as a result, market share. Each has managed to refine their voice to reach new generations of consumers without diluting the core values they’re known for. That’s a feat. And it’s something we all need to do to sustain ourselves over time.
2. Say something interesting.
Do you have something to say? Or are you just making noise because you have to in order to keep up with the other guys? If what you’re saying is mundane, no one is going to listen to you.
If you want people to listen, you have to give them something worth listening to. Something that is better, different, informative, relevant or remarkable. Bonus points if it’s more than one of these.
And for the sake of every poor user trying to sift through internet junk to find what they’re looking for, don’t tweet just because it’s Tuesday…
3. Appeal to the individual, not the masses.
Never talk to a stadium; talk to one person. Yes, you’re still aiming to connect with thousands (or millions) of people – but to engage the individual is to make a meaningful connection. This will garner more interest, brand loyalty, and customer base than squawking into the ether will.
So figure out who your audience is, and then find a way to engage each member of that audience on a personal level. Just like anything else in life: when it’s personal, it’s more meaningful.
4. Solve a problem.
When something is necessary, it’s indispensable. Toilet paper is a prime example: it’s a nonnegotiable item on your shopping list. If you want to succeed, market your product as something indispensable, as something that solves a problem.
Even luxury brands know this. They aren’t necessary the way toilet paper is, but they solve the timeless social problems of impressing the neighbors and keeping up with the Joneses. They’re the purveyors of status, acceptance, and opulence. Therefore, they’re still perceived as necessary. Does every woman in your neighborhood need a Michael Kors handbag? Of course not. A Target handbag would hold their stuff just as well – but a Target handbag doesn’t solve as many problems as a designer tote does; it just solves one.
So market yourself as a problem-solver, even if your product or service is at its core sheer luxury rather than necessity. It’s all about what we think we need, not what we actually need.
5. Your website is your best real estate.
Any content you put on a website other than your own is at the mercy of that site’s SEO value, algorithms, advertising practices, user experience, and more. Repeat after us: you can only control what you own.
That’s why your own website and collateral should be your primary focus. You always own that content, and you can distribute, promote, and repurpose it any way you want. So, sure, post on Instagram or LinkedIn Pulse if that’s where your audience is – but make sure you’re giving some love to your own site and landing pages too. After all, that’s where you want your audience to end up eventually, right?
Here’s a closing thought from advertising legend David Ogilvy: “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals.” That’s timeless advice also. Now go knock it out of the park, boys and girls.