There are some extremely high profile and elaborate digital marketing campaigns happening now. It’s past keeping up with the Joneses; it’s full on one-upmanship. The campaigns include visible influencers and get more and more elaborate. The problem is: I’m not sure what they are selling. Neither is their market, most of whom probably don’t see this and even if they did, still wouldn’t know why they needed to care. If consumers don’t care, they stop paying attention, and worse, they don’t buy what you’re selling.
What’s going wrong?
There are a few things going wrong, but it’s based on the same youthful mistake of popularity for leadership. Popular people are known, but leaders get things done. Name recognition is a great first step, but what brands really need is action. I’ll share a few highlights of my main critiques of the current bells and whistle circus campaigns happening lately.
Is your digital marketing campaign too VIP?
This is not about how important you find your consumer or how good your customer service is. This is about knowing your market. Can your average customer hobnob with the Robin Leach rich and famous crowd? No? Then why are you advertising to them a product or experience they can’t access?
Here are a few points to ponder:
1. Fancy pants VIP experiences are exclusionary in nature and offputting to consumers. Customers see the elaborate showcased experience and know they won’t get that VIP experience. They don’t identify with what you’re selling or see how they can have it, too. They are not persuaded to the product. If your influencers are flown on a private jet to an exotic destination, wined and dined, and given free product to rave about, then you’ve potentially alienated your customer. They probably haven’t heard much about you or your product (though I bet they were inundated with beachie selfies) or why it’s good for them. It’s why I tailor my client influencer experiences to be “what you can get too, now that you know about this cool thing.”
2. VIP experiences often focus on the experience, and unless you are selling the experience, the product is not typically highlighted adequately. This point was hinted at in number 1, but it deserves a spotlight. Each and every one of your campaigns needs to center on your product and all it can do. People buy things that solve problems for them, to be overly simplistic. So show that! I followed a campaign from a huge brand this week. The experience was very posh (outside the average consumers realm) and the influencers barely mentioned the brand and many of their social media posts did not even include the hashtag for the event. They were having a great time and it showed, in all their silly hashtags, photos of things unrelated to the product, many group selfies, photos of beer bottles, and hoorah love tweets to their buddies. If I hadn’t researched this campaign on purpose, I would not have known what these influencers were endorsing or why.
3. The Influencer in the Bubble. Outside of the bubble, who knows these people or is influenced by them? Maybe some but is it real grassroots consumers you reach and persuade? Many bells and whistles circus campaigns aim for the top without pausing to consider who the top reaches. It’s assumed that because they are at the top, they are leaders. But they may merely be well-known. And how far outside their bubble are they known? Do they actually reach and influence your customers? One week on my personal Facebook page, I posted about a coupon, a kid camp, a book, and a great resale shop. I had people contact me to say they’d used the coupon, booked the camp, bought the book, and found a dress they’d needed at the resale shop. These are not staggering statistics. However, it’s real people reaching real people who are the customer base.
What do I do instead of a three ring circus digital marketing campaign?
Marketers often feel like ringmasters, but don’t get stuck in the sense of running a circus. There are a few simply tried and true tactics we’ve lost sight of in our quest to get heard above the noise and out-do or pull a stunt that gets us visibility. Worst of all, we’ve lost sight of the fact that our true objective is not to be seen as if we are a bunch of debutantes; it’s to sell. Conversions count.
Here’s what you can do to avoid getting stuck performing like a trained dog in a circus:
1. Ensure that your campaign is true to your market. Don’t highlight an experience that is exclusionary and out of your customer’s reach. Show them how they fit in to this thing you are selling or how this thing you are selling fits into their world. If you’re selling an upgraded lifestyle, make it a brass ring within reach. If you’re selling a concept, make sure your customers know how they can plug in and what to do. If you’re selling a new product, make sure people understand what it is, what it does and why they need it. In advertising, everything is idealized, but take note: it’s not so much that the message doesn’t scream THIS CAN BE YOU. That’s true for digital marketing, as well, and it’s the big benefit working with bloggers and influencers offers.
2. Ensure that your campaign is strongly about your brand or product. Keep the brand in the center. Sure, there have been hokey campaigns that tried to tie the brand to the event in an awkward way. But that’s not you; you’re a clever marketer. You know how to keep your brand front and center. Remember writing essays in school? Everything had to support the thesis and your paper had to keep returning to the thesis? That was a great lesson for digital marketing. Support your brand and make sure everything comes back to your brand. A great campaign lays out all the support and expectations clearly to the influencers who participate. Provide details, references, links, hashtags, photographs, access to your best experts and spokespeople, and do not forget FTC compliance. The FTC is not targeting bloggers, but they do watch brands.
3. Ensure that your campaign includes influencers who reach buyers, and that they are true leaders and influencers, not just popular. Ideally, bloggers and influencers are collecting metrics from past campaigns and can share case studies. Or at least numbers. Knowing the size of their community is important, but knowing how influential they are in driving the community to act is important too. It’s unlikely you can get a great case study, but you can put together your own metrics. Who is creating content that is persuasive and interesting? how engaged is the community? Can you spot any “I’m doing that!” comments? Spending beaucoups of bucks on a three ring circus sounds exciting, but it is perhaps better to invest some of that in high-quality conversion-friendly content.