“They laughed when my avatar sat down at the piano but when I started to play!”
In 1926, John Caples used a headline almost like the one above and filled the page with a story about how a man's newly acquired piano skills mesmerized an audience.
Today, in a world of ad-resistant and elusive consumers, you’ll need more than a brilliant headline to engage customers and create memorable experiences. In his new book, The On-Demand Brand, Rick Mathieson reveals 10 secrets (or rules) to capture and hold your audience’s attention.
I’d like to look at three of the secrets. Before we do let’s explore the layout of the book. The book has 10 chapters − One for each secret. After each chapter Rick holds a Question and Answer with a marketing expert who provides context for the concepts described in the chapter.
I seldom see a Q&A section in business books. I mean, if you’re an author, you’re writing a book to shine a light on yourself, your insights... Only a confident author would share the limelight with other experts in his field.
And Rick’s confidence benefits his readers. You hear stories from Laura Klauberg (Senior VP of global media at Uniliver) about being shunned by teenagers on Facebook. From Alex Bogusky, the man described as the rockstar of advertising, we learn what gives his work such a viral quality. In addition, Rick points to Alex’s book Baked In, a book that explains how to bake positive experiences into your products.
Referring to his 10 rules for marketing success, Rick writes:
“Be warned: Whatever your objective, these rules will be rendered useless if your brand doesn’t produce compelling products that people want to buy…”
Let’s look at three of Rick’s rules:
• There’s no Business without Show Business
• Products Are the New Services
• Always Keep Surprises In-Store
There’s no Business without Show Business
It’s always been true for advertising that entertainment is part of business. Kevin Townsend, who has created entertainment initiatives for major brands, said this about branded entertainment.
“There’s an art form that is emerging now, which is being able to understand a brand’s audience so well that you can actually create entertainment that makes them want to come back to you.”
The ABC TV series Lost used alternate realities to entertain viewers and make them come back to the show. ABC did this by using faux public service announcements for a fake organization (Hanso Foundation) that was behind the show’s mysterious plot. They also created 70 video blogs featuring Rachel Blake, a protagonist investigating Hanso. When Rachel harassed the show’s producers at a sci-fi convention, the audience used camera phones to capture the drama, and posted the video to the Internet within 45 minutes.
We see that ABC followed Rick’s fundamental premise that the product must first be remarkable, then entertainment dimensions can promote the brand.
Products are the New Services
Products are the starting point for building relationships with customers. Many companies are also creating services that enhance the experience of owning physical products.
Butterball, for example, has an 800 number that people call during Thanksgiving to help overcome obstacles to creating that perfect dinner. Butterball also has a website that disseminates recipe information. So the product becomes a service, helping customers cook up delicious meals.
iTunes is a compelling example of a service enhancing a product. Can you image the iPod without iTunes. It would be a completely different experience. With iTunes, customers have a personal content service that’s easy to manage.
Keep Surprises In-Store
Retailers noticed that consumers are using cell phones and social media while shopping. A teenager may take a picture of a dress and email it to her friends for feedback.
Having spotted this trend, retailers are integrating technology into the store experience. Nanette Lepore has created what it calls the “Lepore Looking Glass.” A shopper can hold up a silk top to a mirror, and with the help of a video feed the mirror plays animated scenarios, featuring the brand’s Lepore Girl mascot. In another pilot, a posse of teen shoppers can use the mirrors to access each others’ video feed from their dressing room and give instant feedback.
My favorite example of retail surprise? At Polo Ralph Lauren’s Manhattan store, shoppers attracted to window displays can tap on the glass and access a touch screen display for more info or to buy the product. Now imagine a customer’s delight when she discovers window shopping really is… window shopping.
These examples (and many more) in Rick’s book help you think of ways to create positive emotions (surprise, delight, curiosity). And that’s key because your brand is defined by more than your product, your brand is defined by the experiences you create for your customers.