You’ve got your marketing degree, and you’re ready to work for a big-name brand like Nike or Coca-Cola. But before you catch your break, you may have to work on some less-than-thrilling ad campaigns. And that’s the perfect time to study up.
Or, maybe you’re an entrepreneur who has a super-useful product or service that, unfortunately, isn’t terribly exciting.
What techniques are brands and marketers employing to think outside of their products and get creative, even with a product that seems boring at face value? Take a look at four tips from companies who are making the boring more exciting:
1. Be visual
The majority of people are visual learners. Frontline Flea and Tick Spray uses bold, life-size print campaigns that catch the consumer’s eye. Telling someone to check their dog for ticks and fleas is one thing; showing a dog with human fleas is another. The idea behind the advertisement displayed in a Jakarta shopping mall is an out-of-the-box way to advertise a product that many pet owners might not think twice about.
Another brand successful at creating something visually appealing is CableTV.com. They developed an interactive infographic about The Walking Dead that details what goes on behind the scenes of the show, with everything from the makeup to training zombie walkers. Although this interactive graphic has nothing to do with the product of cable TV, it helps raise brand awareness without having to talk about the services themselves.
Career takeaway: Make your advertising campaigns visual. Consider using infographics, unique print ads and interactive tools and resources to educate readers.
2. Rock social media
Social media isn’t just a cheap form of advertising; it’s effective, too. Social media does more than share a brand message — it creates a sense of community, which creates loyal customers. But social media marketing is more than posting a status update or sending a tweet.
Successful brands understand the power of social media, no matter what product they’re selling. The Internet is full of companies with huge followings on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest selling uncool products.
Instead of posting a photo about a rake or a washing machine, Lowe’s turned to the video-sharing Vine app. The company posts short, informative videos that give customers solutions to their everyday problems. The videos use stop-motion animation to share life hacks like unscrewing a stripped screw. Lowe’s Vines are a fun way to bring their products to life, while also creating a way to share the brand message.
Dove is also doing social media right. Who would have thought a soap company would be successful at creating a unified community with more than 300,000 fans on Facebook? Dove shares insightful posts, and fans come to the page every day to rave about the product and share experiences.
The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is one example of the company using social media to connect with a group of people. Since 2004, Dove has been on a mission to redefine beauty stereotypes among women and improve women’s self-esteem. Much of the campaign is run through Facebook and Twitter.
Career takeaway: Don’t just use social media; engage with your customer online. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Social media is meant to be social. Put a face to your organization and create a brand raving fans will want to interact with.
3. Have a story to tell
The key to standing out from the crowd is having a unique story about the people, experience and company history behind your brand. The marketing needs to be authentic and creative. Imagination will tell your company’s story in a way that’ll not only attract attention, but keep it, too.
FedEx Kinkos takes office supplies and paper and makes you look twice. Highlighters marking off a no-parking spot on a city sidewalk and whiteout being used to create a crosswalk are just some of the creative ways FedEx Kinkos uses to grab your attention and help consumers see office supplies as a part of daily life.
FedEx Kinkos takes simplicity to a new level, while still telling the company story: we sell office supplies.
Another way to tell a story in a creative way is to use humor. Swiss Life, a financial planning company, implements humor to tell the story of their products. Simple black and white campaigns with no imagery clearly, yet humorously, tell the company story.
Wouldn’t you want to bank with a company that uses phrases like, “I’ll love you till the end came unexpectedly”? The name “Swiss Life” alone tells you this is a financial institution you can trust (the Swiss are known for banking), so a creative twist on the products and services offered lends new life to an otherwise boring product.
Career takeaway: Be creative and use ingenuity. Be clever and outwit your competitor when it comes to telling a powerful story. Be sure to:
- Catch the consumer’s eye
- Put in a strong creative effort
- Draw consumers to your product
- Take people by surprise
- Use humor
4. Try celebrity endorsements
If your budget has some extra cash, celebrity endorsements can pay off big for brands. If you put a face to the name, your audience is more likely to remember you and your product. In many cases, the payoff can be immediate.
Verizon has successfully integrated Michael Bay into their fiber optics service (FiOS) commercials. Bay’s fame and the Transformer brand bring excitement to ordinary Internet service. The commercials are just as action-packed as the movies, bringing brand recognition to both Verizon and the Transformers franchise.
Sprint, Verizon’s competitor, has also turned to celebrity endorsements to sell phones. Cell phones can seem boring on the outside, but add in the creativity of reciting a text message with the name recognition of James Earl Jones and Malcolm McDowell, and you’ve got an advertising campaign worth remembering.
Career takeaway: Celebrity endorsements have the power to entertain, edify and even inspire customers. If you have the budget, go for a big name.
One of the biggest challenges of your career might be marketing a boring brand. Try some of these tips and you could be on the way to a remarkable and interesting campaign.