There’s a Right Way to Zag in Marketing

Within the marketing industry, many organizations have created annual award shows for the creative product. The general public rarely sees who the winners are. Most of them are set up for internal publishing and viewing. It may sound too simple, but a quicker way to survey or benchmark the quality of creative products for any given year is to review Super Bowl commercials, and global events like the Olympics.

Venturing to say, probably only two or three commercials were worth the astronomical media costs this year. Yes, they made you laugh, but what was the product they were selling? Or the cinematography was magnificently executed, but how clear was the message they were trying to convey? What was the point of difference of the product or service?

Take another quick glance survey into the world of print media. For instance, take the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality segments. Just grab any travel & leisure magazine (or look at the photos on their websites). How many of them look exactly the same if you were to cover the logo or sign off? Would the message stand on its own or could you just move that execution to another hotel and it would suffice?

You might think each hotel or tourist destination’s message is saying “hey, I’m a me too property, and there’s nothing unique about me either.” Now is it really worth the media cost of that advertisement?

Recently in an interview with an owner/CEO of a mid-level advertising agency, the question was asked of him, what does he look for in a creative department employee? His response was “I look for someone who can put a great spin on a communication.”

Granted a “spin” can make a compelling execution. But there is so much more to a strong, memorable marketing concept. The key operative word is “concept.” It may seem a simple, uncomplicated term. Titling it “The Big Idea,” “The Spin,” and more recently “The Buzz,” it seems with this disposable, sound bite, quantity not quality approach of today, the “Big Idea” misses just that – there’s no “big idea,” because short-cuts seem to be the order of the day, and indicative of thoughtless strategy. A lot of that “missing it” is in the social media arena, but that’s another article. (Stay tuned).

Humor has taken the place of clarity, and shock for shock’s sake has taken the place of compelling, and what’s missing is the information to keep it concise and truthful. Lets just say it seems truth is just thought of as boring in this age (i.e. bad form). The good news: This makes a great opportunity for experienced marketers to stand out in the crowded world of badly executed marketing.

The maverick approach seems to be held as the benchmark home run. There is nothing wrong with zigging while the competition is zagging, but there is a right way to zag.

A good way of looking at how important good marketing is, is knowing the basics before you start bending the rules. Let’s take a look at the culinary arts, for example. The media spotlight is on culinary reality shows such as Iron Chef, Top Chef and Chopped. To be a winner or standout, critics look for the “zagger.” Winners are made on the points of difference, and the winning execution is being maverick with the right ingredients. But for Chefs to play games with those ingredients, they have to understand and realize what the culinary balances are to the whole cooking process. The genius of the dish is the extraordinary match ups, making it a successful dish. The balance is there because of the chef’s basic knowledge of each individual ingredient. Just like a chef, marketing and branding professionals have to know the basic marketing ingredients before breaking any of the rules.

Again, the right way to zag is knowing the simple rules of marketing, completely ingrained almost in your sleep, knowing and have a ‘no holes barred’ respect for those rules.

Rule #1: Determining framework of the strong marketing strategy
A) Keep the message clear and concise
B) Boil down the positioning statement , branding or offer to be as simple and uncomplicated as possible
C) Ask the question: Is the message communicating a strong need or action that surprises and resonates the target audience.
D) The message must be truthful

Then start playing the maverick with them. Knowing why these basic rules are there and doing your homework can make the zagging maverick a winning maverick, a marketing genius, not a shotgun genius. And good spin, in my opinion is automatic.

Now it’s your turn. View some commercials. Don’t overanalyze them but for the cost of the media are they up to snuff? Let me know which ones you think are most effective and legitimately break the rules, and win.
Super Bowl Commercials 2012
Olympic Ads on You Tube

This blog post was written by Logan Broussard,
Creative Director for BlueDeep Branding, a partner organization to Cinderella to CEO
specializing in diversity and inclusion marketing and business strategies

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About Cary

Cary Broussard is a communications executive, teacher, and author of the book, From Cinderella to CEO. She is a partner in Broussard Global Communications, based in Dallas and New York. You can find out more about her on www.broussardglobal.com, on Twitter @carybroussard1 or @fairygodmentor and of course LinkedIn.
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