If you don’t stand out, you’re bound to be invisible

Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash

By Geraint Clarke

Marketing follows the same formula for most businesses. Show the product, sell the product. It can become a mindless, perpetual cycle.

Often, by breaking the rules we’ve established with our customers or our colleagues, we can breathe new life into the brand.

Today we’ll be exploring five concepts that seemingly break established rules but still work to build brand awareness and advocacy.

1. Try Selling Nothing

Sometimes, it’s nice to spend $500 sending an email or text blast to all of your customers, giving them a little pep in their step. For literally no reason.

Just wish them a great day, or remind them how awesome they are.

Here’s a recent example…

Email written by Geraint Clarke for Ellusionist

You can see the response from one customer was “Y’all have no idea how much I needed that this morning, y’all the best.”

Here are some more…

Screenshots from text responses captured by Geraint Clarke

Moves like this remind customers that you’re more than the products that you sell. You’re human.

2. Throw Out Your Marketing Plan

Things change. We all know how that feels, especially this year…but it’s also true for your marketing efforts in business.

I think marketing is a very reactive endeavour. Why, then, do businesses have 12-month marketing plans? You don’t know what’s coming in one month, let alone 12. It’s best to allow your workload to be more fluid.

Maybe product launches are delayed or need to be brought forward.

Maybe events are cancelled or re-engineered to take place online.

You need to be able to shift focus based on news, current events, shipping delays, and creative ideas.

Throw out your marketing plan and instead react to the way things are in the current moment.

3. Change Your Tone

As a brand, people become used to your tone. They feel like they know you, how you speak, and how you sell. Like a boring relationship, they can fall into a pattern of compliance rather than enjoyment.

Nothing excites them, but they stay with you anyway.

Try changing things up a bit.

As a brand, try speaking from the voice of one of your employees. Maybe Cody from the warehouse? What’s his perspective on your latest sale? Is he grateful for all that overtime he’s making thanks to people shopping the sale? Let your customers hear from him.

As a personal brand, try speaking from the angle of your P.A. Or using customer reviews to capture the voices of buyers and not yours, as the seller.

My girlfriend and I always looked forward to Vinterior’s emails. Sometimes it appeared in our inbox from Vinterior, sometimes from Hazel, and sometimes from Lizzy.

It felt exciting to be seeing individual perspectives behind a corporate brand. The content always felt more tailored and less corporate — even if it was all an illusion, it worked to suck us in.

4. Make Enemies

Too many businesses worry about trying to please everyone. They sit on the fence and don’t show favor to any regard.

You don’t need everyone to like you — you need your customers to like you.

Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

A fantastic example of this is how Pepsi takes shots at Coca-Cola with their marketing. They’re not worried about annoying Coke or their customers. They’re standing up for what they believe in — their product.

My advice would be to avoid politics and religion in all marketing efforts because everyone’s views are so nuanced that you’ll create a ****-storm for your business.

However, outside of those particular subjects, you shouldn’t be afraid to take firm stances. As long as it’s something reflective of your customers and your core values.

Maybe you’ll make a few enemies, but you may also turn a few customers into die-hard fans in the process.

5. Be Honest About Failures

I see one company, who will remain nameless, send out an email to its customers every single year about what an amazing year it’s had.

Not once does it show some vulnerability — and I think that’s missing too much from businesses these days.

It’s nice to let customers know about your challenges, even if you were able to overcome them.

Let people know you’ve had delays with your manufacturing.

Let customers know that rising-shipping costs are killing your profit.

Let customers know that you appreciate their support because COVID has been hard on your local cafe, etc.

Even if you come out of the other end, people aren’t stupid and they can relate more to your problems than they can to your blind successes.

People love to see failure because it reminds them that what they see isn’t perfect either — and there’s some comfort for people’s own lives within that.