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content marketing

What Makes a Good Ad?

By David Berry: It's perhaps the most subjective, divisive topic in the entire ad industry, and its centered around a question that's been asked since the dawn of the industry - what makes a good ad? (And more recently, the question is 'how do you make something go viral?')

The New York Times pointed out that many people, when probed with this question, tend to argue that "sticky ideas and products tend to be simple, unexpected and credible, with concrete details, an emotional undertow and a memorable story line." 

But it's not quite that simple - or consistent. If funny and cute were truly the way to go, for example, then you'd never see a Party City 'Thriller' commercial like, ever.

The better answer to the question is a bit more layered. A few weeks back, I read a book called Contagious by Jonah Berger, an associate professor of marketing at the Wharton School of Business at Penn.

The Times said that "Berger, for his part, asserts that six principles help make things go viral":

  • Social Currency (making people feel that they are cool insiders)
  • Triggers (everyday reminders of an item or idea)
  • Emotional Resonance (making people want to share the experience with friends)
  • Observability (that is, a highly visible item advertises itself)
  • Usefulness (people like to share practical or helpful information)
  • Storytelling (embedding a product or an idea in a narrative enhances its power).

Without summarizing the book, Berger goes on to explain case study after case study that supports those six principles. And it goes so far as to explain how Cheerios (yes, Cheerios) gets more word of mouth buzz than a gargantuan fun land like Disney.

But why? No one thinks of Cheerios as a sexy brand, but it never has to be. A good brand doesn't need its ads to be cute or funny; ads are reinforcements for brands that are already ideally suited to drive sales (and that's the only true measure of a good ad).

Winning brands do their winning by embedding themselves into the day-to-day fiber of our lives, both in how we interact with the brand/products themselves, but also in how they fit into our compulsions to connect, share and tell stories with one another.

It's why Party City's Thriller ad is a good ad, despite the fact that it's annoying. Social currency doesn't always have to be based around a good thing; saying 'ugh, did you hear that annoying Party City Thriller commercial - again? Must be Halloween again' is exactly what Party City needs you to think. And now you've told the brand story for them and they've triggered an emotion in you. Sure, the emotion seems negative on the surface, but are you really not going to shop at Party City because the ad is annoying? No. 

Hell, you could hear the song Thriller out of season and not even think of Michael Jackson. You're just thinking of costumes. In Party City's world, Thriller is perhaps one of its most known triggers - annoying or not.

The best ads don't need to be polished or high in production value. They just need to get people talking. And if it has several of those six principles, your odds of 'going viral' just got a major boost.

- DB

Why Good Marketers Are Good Lovers

By David Berry: Valentine's Day is less than a month away, so I've got romance on my mind. My girlfriend will be happy to read that. But all the thoughts of chocolate and delicious meals (let's be honest, that's every day) reminded me of my favorite analogy.

And that is to compare good marketing to being a good lover. Before I explain, let's all share in the romance of a good Keith Sweat music video.

Okay, now that we've got that out of our system, let's get to it. Far too many brands miss the love lesson altogether. They think, "well, I have this great thing/service to sell, and if I just tell people about it, they'll want to buy it."

Invariably, it doesn't work. It turns into a few weeks of consistent social media efforts and very little ROI, then complete abandonment. Or a handful of emails or blog posts, minimal response, then the complaint that "ugh, this stuff just doesn't work."

Anytime I engage a business owner in this conversation, I ask them, "Well, if you gave up so quickly in your love life, would you have ever gotten married?"

The response is always the same - a smile and a chuckle. But that's exactly where we should be looking for our lessons as marketers. Any successful relationship involves a consistent, measured approach. You have to vary your pursuit; dinner one night, dancing another, or an event centered around a shared interest. And here's the kicker - you have to show consistent interest in the one you're pursuing! If you want to keep them, you always need to be attentive to their changing needs and wants. If you decide that they're not worthy of your pursuit - and only once you're sure that's the case - then you can move on.

You can't ask a girl on one date, abandon her for a few months, then show up out of nowhere and ask her to marry you. Or keep taking her on the same date over and over again and expect her not to wonder if there's something better out there. This may sound like total lunacy, yet that's exactly what brands do all the time!

They post a few pieces of content one day (a first date), then immediately start asking for clients to buy their products (marriage proposal) without much regard for how the content was received - if at all. Then they wonder why consumers are slow to buy from them.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your brand/product/service isn't special enough to circumvent the rules of marketing. There are no overnight successes. Those who are consistent, attentive and dedicated to their customers will win them - and keep them.

Any good lover knows that.

-DB

 

Recycling: Good for the Environment - And Your Content

Recycle. Like I just did with this free stock photo from Pixabay.com.

Recycle. Like I just did with this free stock photo from Pixabay.com.

By David Berry: What is a business to do when they're listening to every marketing expert around tell them that 'content is king,' but they don't have the resources worthy of a kingship? Recycle.

No, I'm not talking about your cans and bottles (but that's a good idea, too). I'm talking about recycling old content.

Think that feels 'cheap'? It's not. And it's actually more common than you think. According to Digiday: 

The Atlantic, which uses archival material on both the print and digital sides of its business, now generates more than a quarter of its traffic every month from older content. At publications like Business Insider, the figure is even higher, and for lifestyle-focused publications like Refinery29 it’s higher still: 35 percent, and growing, the company said.
— Digiday.com

The rationale makes sense too. For three reasons.

  1. It uses fewer resources. You already created the content; you're just driving people back to it. Less is more.
  2. Message frequency = message penetration. This is how old TV advertising budgets were built; they knew they needed to deliver the message multiple times for it to really get noticed. When that happens, you get top of mind brand awareness, and that pays dividends when it comes to generating repeat traffic - particularly for ecom brands.
  3. It's easier to plan. As Neha Gandhi, Refinery29’s svp of content strategy and innovation, said, “Betting exclusively on the news cycle is far too volatile a game to play, if you’re looking to drive sustained growth and loyalty.” Find evergreen themes, and build on those.

Here are a few tips to get you started on an evergreen content strategy:

  1. Develop content categories. Let's say you run a grocery store chain. Regardless of time of year, target users of a grocery store will always have an interest in food/ingredients, the in-store experience, recipes and finished products/dishes, how the foods bring value to an every day lifestyle, and so on. When creating evergreen content, make sure you have these pillars established. It'll ensure that your content is always relevant, and always on brand.
  2. Use it everywhere. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and any other pertinent social media channels. Plug it in your email content, your corporate blog, and at retail store level, as appropriate.
  3. Then, use it again. If you're worried about users thinking you're selling it off as 'new' content two or three months after you first used it, be up front about it. Say 'In case you missed it!' (ICYMI), or 'From the archives.' This keeps you transparent, and allows you to gain extra traffic and engagement on content that otherwise would sit in solitude.

Have any tips of your own? Leave them in the comments. And don't forget to subscribe to our emails for more tips that we'll send directly to your inbox.

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Decoded: The True Meaning of 10 Advertising Buzz Words

By David Berry: Ad agencies and advertising people have a way of sounding really smart without saying much that could be considered substantive. I know this because a fair amount of my career was predicated on doing so.

David Berry, 2015: “What I think we’re seeing is a move toward more original, native content being distributed across channels, but in a hypertargeted way. And the superdata we have allows us to do that effectively.”

David Berry, 2015, translated: “Advertisers figured out that people want to see stuff that they like, and less stuff that they don’t like.”

The translated version is a lot easier to understand, but a lot less impressive-sounding, right? Well, here are 10 buzz words that are still being overused – and aren’t that impressive either.

1.     Data-Driven Content: Free data that’s built into Facebook and Google, etc. tell us the age groups of our audience and a little bit about what they like to look at. So if we see that they like cat memes and not dog memes, we make more cat memes.

2.     Influencer Marketing: People know that businesses want you to buy their stuff, which is why people usually tune-out the businesses. So we hire really cool people to sell our products for us, because you like them better than you like us. (Also see: Brand ambassadors)

3.     Storytelling: Storytelling. But usually about a product that’s for sale.

4.     Native Advertising: Ever seen recommended articles on Buzzfeed, but they just happen to be promoted by a brand? Native advertising. People tend to like it more than obnoxious banner ads.

5.     Hashtag Mining: Just finding out the hashtags people use most when they post stuff. Like if I post a picture of myself boxing, I would go find out that people use #boxing #mma #ufc a lot when they post pictures of boxing, too.

6.     Disruptive: This is an obnoxious way of saying ‘game changing,’ which is an obnoxious way of saying ‘nerdy stuff that might eventually catch on.’ Don’t get me wrong, disruptive technology or ideas do change the world. But most of the time you hear the word ‘disruptive’ being used to describe it, it’s not actually true.

7.     Hyperlocal: Basically, it’s advertising that’s based on where you are. The easiest way to tell that is usually through your mobile phone, and yes, brands can track your location because you willfully provide it to them. You know, so you can find a hottie within walking distance on Tinder.

8.     Integrated Marketing: This one isn’t as buzzy as it used to be, but it’s a fancy way of saying “we’re putting similar ads and information in a lot of places.” This is a good thing for advertisers and consumers. Once upon a time, there was TV, newspapers and radio. Now, there are those things plus computers, smart phones, Fitbits, running shoes, etc. That means that integrated marketing is designed to go where the people go.

9.     Millenials: Anyone younger than the advertising executive telling you about them. No hard data exists on this group, but generally speaking, Millenials are an extremely diverse group of consumers who were probably born between 1980 and the mid 1990s. Millenials are important because they were the first truly tech-savvy generation, and now they’re starting to have some real buying power. Which is why advertisers are always touting the importance of ‘capturing the millennial audience.’

10.  Clickbait: We all know what this is and unfortunately we’ve all fallen for it. The headlines that are the equivalent of a chocolate cake when you’ve been on a diet. “His girlfriend got cat-called by his best friend and you won’t believe what happens next!” 100% of the time, clickbait is designed to get you to click on something that sounds amazing and invariably is not.

Did this help you make sense of all the noise? Do you have any buzzwords that you’d add to the list? Share them below.