As this article is being written, possibly one of the greatest Viral campaigns EVER is being rolled out for the movie – Anchorman 2 – The Legend Continues set for a release date of December 18th, 2013!. It’s a sequel to the 2004 movie Anchorman, a stinging parody of 70’s and 80’s ego maniacal TV anchors in the US!
Stay Classy! – is the catch phrase he signs off his newscasts. This also sets the stage perfectly for what it takes to do Marketing in the 21st Century, especially for product companies!
This trailer already has 4.6 million hits as I write this!
The interesting thing about this campaign is that Will Ferrell, the actor who plays Ron Burgundy has been in character for about a month now and has done various things like do a whole series of TV ads for Dodge! Like this one that already has 3.6 million hits on YouTube. As a Brand Ambassador he, surprisingly, says dumb things about Dodge but that makes these ads funny, watchable, water cooler conversation and word of mouth material! (The ads are hits in Canada as well as The Globe and Mail attests from Toronto!).
Or when two days ago he showed up as Ron Burgundy and hosted a whole 30 minute local Newscast at a local TV station in Bismarck, North Dakota as a co-anchor saying the same dumb things his character would in the movies but in a real live newscast!
What’s the point of all of this? – The last week or so, they have been getting free public relations worth billions of dollars, all of these being covered breathlessly by every channel and every newscast in the US! That’s Marketing in the 21st Century – Blurring the lines between media of every kind – network, cable TV and Social Media like YouTube, not to talk about these links being tweeted and re-tweeted by everyone that finds these things funny!
Jerome McCarthy’s four P’s – Product, Place, Price and Promotion still capture accurately ALL the different aspects of Marketing but how people make it relevant for the 21st Century is pretty interesting and worth the attention of Product Companies! Here are 8 rules for 21st Century Marketing:
1. Making the most creative use of Social Media
Most product start-ups these days are aware of and use Social Media like facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, Tumblr, Pinterest extensively and that’s precisely the problem! You become part of the noise. How do you stand out among all this noise? You do something creative and unusual like the Ron Burgundy campaign above! And it takes a heck of a lot of creativity to come up with stuff like that (may be not to that scale given the nature of many start-ups) and execute for a small start-up. However, you would notice that the above campaign still relies on the inherent virality of social media and word of mouth! The 21st century has made it possible even for a tiny start-up to go viral and get the publicity it needs, if their campaign is interesting and at the same time achieves the end goals they shoot for!
2. Exploring the use of Big Data for your 4 Ps
Big Data with respect to product start-ups has much less to do with the size of the data than with your use of it. Do you have data on the Audience, Channels, Content and Yield for your marketing efforts? Audience has to do with understanding your own customer segments. What channels have been effective for you? What Content among the different types of content you use to promote your product has been useful for you? What has been the most cost effective ways in which you have been able to convert or maximize the yield for your efforts? What price points have yielded what kinds of conversions for you? Do you have the data and the charts to track these? It’s never too early to get started with these kinds of efforts!
3. Checking out unusual and creative avenues for learning your customer needs
Are you trolling reviews of your Competitors’ Products yet for ideas on what your customer needs exactly? What do they say is lacking in them? Those are precisely what you need in your product! facebook or Amazon was not the first company in their categories to make it big! Having someone already in the same market as you should not be a deterrent! Here’s The Amazon Whisperer , an amazing example of how a few people built a multi-million dollar company just reading Amazon product reviews looking for the words “I wish this product had….”, then making that product in China and selling it in Amazon to begin with and then expanding to other channels!
4. Using all the 21st Century Creative options available to you for marketing
The 21st Century has made possible the most creative uses of Graphics, Sound, Movement captured in videos with just smartphones or tablets. They can be made with professional quality with editing software. Your prospect base may have access to broadband at home and if not, very likely, at work! Are your marketing efforts making creative use of these new possibilities? Most product start-ups may have a demo video of their software recorded with screen capture and a voice, up on YouTube. How many of them show a real user telling you their story and show you how their tool solves your problem? Watch this video of a Biometric Identification System in use! Notice how they talk about problems, benefits, problems, benefits, problems, benefits! This is not a Ron Burgundy type funny video but I bet it talks *VERY EFFECTIVELY* to their prospects! So where’s your video that talks about the problems your product addresses and the benefits it brings?
5. Making your content customer centered and not YOU focused
A blog is a must for every product startup – or so they think! It is very useful to convey very broad discussions about the problem you are trying to solve when you don’t have a product ready as yet and you are in say, stealth mode! However, the game changes completely once your product is out and is in use. Not many may be as interested in your technical esoterica, as they are about the problems you are addressing and the benefits your solution brings! The 21st Century has made available such a huge glut of content in many different forms and people have only a sliver of their time each day for all of them, if at all! The content needs to be interesting, current and relevant for them to spend more than a few seconds! Turn them off with your own tech talk, they may never come back again!
6. Having true conversations with your customers, not just one-way communications from you!
Are your Social Media conversations anything like this? They are talking about the untimely death of actor Paul Walker of the Fast and Furious movies.
Redbox defines itself as being in the entertainment business and so sprinkles its facebook presence with conversations like the one above – relevant, timely and engaging! No matter what your product is, there is always a larger business you are a part of and having conversations like the one above is possible if you are creative enough! Resist the urge to talk about your new releases or features all the time! The 21st Century is all about interactions and this is a good example of what those are!
7. Exploring all of the 21st Century Pricing options available to you
With the ability to keep track of demand and supply at any time, it is possible for some products to be priced with Variable Pricing or Dynamic Pricing! This may not be applicable to all software products but the question of Free Trials vs Freemium Vs Nothing Free Pricing may be possibility with most start-ups. All of them are subtly different from each other, they need to be discussed in detail with respect to your own product, may be A/B tested before choosing one over the other!
8. Creating enough compelling calls to actions to your prospects
Calls to action can be for a variety of things you want your prospects to do – Sign Up for a Free Trial, Request a Case Study, Sign up for a Freemium account and show them a version with limited capabillities, etc. Here are some fine examples of such Calls to Action! And, here’s an interesting article on how to go about designing some, step by step!
The 21st Century has seen the proliferation of variety of new devices like smartphones and tablets. People engage in social media more extensively at home or at work. They are also very handy for anyone making pictures and videos of professional quality. Big Data and Cloud Computing have enabled the collection, analysis and use of massive amounts of data for many uses including marketing. There are many more inexpensive options for cash strapped product start-ups to explore creative ways to do marketing. It’s time to take full advantage of them!
You can buy attention (advertising). You can beg for attention from the media (PR). You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales). Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free. – David Meerman Scott, marketing speaker