When it comes to the public’s perception of what’s “cool,” not all brands are necessarily created equal. Sure, marketing products or services that are directly tapped into the pulse of what’s popular at the moment can sometimes feel like shooting fish in a barrel, but what about businesses that aren’t necessarily hot ticket items in pop culture? There’s no denying that plumbers and engineering firms are important and have an audience, but they aren’t exactly “sexy,” either.
Though this might seem like something of a difficult obstacle, Internet marketing experts agree that it’s possible to share your brand’s story and connect with/engage audiences no matter what type of business it may be. Diane Diaz – a marketing professional whose career has seen her hold titles such as Research Director at Tallahassee news station WCTV and Regional Marketing Director for real estate group Newland Communities – points out that the most important thing to consider when telling a brand’s story is identifying what problem it solves for the customer.
“There’s emotion behind every brand, no matter how unsexy or uncool it might seem. Everything has to start at the perspective of the customer,” says Diaz, who also serves as a course director in Full Sail University’s Internet Marketing program. “When I talk about storytelling in my class, I use an example of a carpet cleaning company. It sounds so benign and not interesting at all, but people clean their carpets for a reason; they want a comfortable home where their family is, and that’s emotional.”
“A lot of ‘boring’ businesses are B2B, so one might assume that they are less emotional because it’s the person’s job to purchase the product that is being sold to them,” says Rob Croll, an internet marketing consultant and founder of Marlannah Digital Marketing, a firm that helps small-to-medium sized businesses capitalize on the many avenues of the Internet; he also is the Program Director for Full Sail University’s Internet Marketing Master’s program. “But that person has to find the right product or service or they’re going to lose their job. In that case, your brand’s storytelling needs to address the fact that you can solve the problem of them potentially losing their job if they make the wrong choice.”
Genon Murray – a marketing professional who has worked with brands such as Universal Studios, Nickelodeon Studios, and her own business GRM Creative Services over the last two decades – notes that employing tools like humor can be a great way for brands to address topics that aren’t just deemed “boring,” but can be outright unpleasant for customers to think about.
“No one wants to buy insurance and no one wants to need it. It’s scary, it’s a cost that seems like it’s being thrown away, and no one understands how it’s being applied,” says Murray, who is also a Course Director for the Storytelling and Content Strategy, Development, and Marketing courses in Full Sail’s Internet Marketing program. “I believe that’s why we’re seeing so many insurance campaigns that use a jester archetype in a comical story, like the Geico gecko or Allstate’s Mayhem. This makes these brands seem more approachable to a customer who might have an aversive emotion about a product, and reduces their anxiety.”
Regardless of how it’s done, the overarching philosophy of the best way to market your business – whatever it may be – stems from basic Sales 101, where the benefits of the service or product are emphasized rather than the features. Understanding what’s important to customers is truly the only way to reach this point, and luckily for internet marketers, tools like social media offer a surefire way to get the best answers to this question.
“Social media allows us to hear what the customer has to say so we can glean better knowledge about what’s important to them and how they are interacting with your brand,” says Murray. “Companies can learn what they’re doing right, what they’re doing wrong, and how they can change the way they present themselves based on the immediate feedback that customers provide.”
Full Sail University’s Internet Marketing Master’s program equips students with the techniques that brands and businesses need in order to engage with consumers in the constantly evolving digital world. To learn more, click here.