Saturday, 6 February 2010

Viral marketing has to make people feel

Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is 'viral' - how did the RATM campaign work? Why did Alex Tew & MillionDollarHomepage have a hit?

In my previous 'Want to go viral? Learn from Alex Tew & Charlie Simpson' post I discuss how narrative is important. But it occurs to me that narrative is what ALL marketing is at its core. There is always a message. So what differentiation is there between those messages and campaigns that succeed and those that fail?

Well, I think it has to do with the campaign message's ability to speak to people at the level of their hearts. If the message does not arouse passion, anger, emotion it will not propogate. It might be a noble cause but if emotion is not roused, it will fail. Unless you throw money at it of course. But thats expensive and cheating. The message has to make people feel. Anything. Something. The stronger the better.

In the case of the Bravia ads they take colour and make it emotional by intertwining the colour with time. They realised that what makes colour special is not the colour itself but the movement of colour.

In the case of the Barclaycard ads they take the dull timeline of an average days transactions and invoke feeling by superimposing that timeline into adrenaline-fueled opposite timelines.

The results for both brands are stunning.

Now not everyone goes out or online right after watching and gets a Barclaycard or a Bravia but those ads serve to elevate the product to the level of the heart. But more importantly, the value of the entertainment through which the brand and product were delivered takes on value. They give the entertainment great emotional pull itself.

So whether we buy it or not, we talk about it, we share it, we swap it, and generally we do the marketing for them, and so it becomes viral.

So, to give an example of my own. A normal ad for salt might focus on the USPs to do with taste, health, the beauty of the container and so on. An M&S ad perhaps. This is not just any salt, this is M&S salt. Lots of close-ups of the salt. You get the picture.

But if Sony or Barclaycard sold salt the ad might be more about the journey of the grain of salt from its perspective. The vibrancy, the energy, the intertwining with the food. The salt would be positioned as synonymous with the food. You would appreciate life from the grain of salt's point of view. The salt experience would become something aspirational. You would identify with the salt. You may not eat more salt as a result, but we'd all be talking about that ad. And sales of salt would go up overall.


The ROI of Social Media: The Water Cooler Gambit

I am quite bored of people asking to be shown the actual monetary ROI of Social Media. Not that I get asked but it seems a persistent topic of discussion on the web and through business & consumer media in general.

'What is the value of twitter/facebook etc to our business?'. When the person being asked predictably struggles to satisfy their cynical inquisitor, said inquisitor jumps in and rejects wholsale the very idea of Social Media as a fad etc.

Social Media is something they usually don't understand and so under the guise of 'well, it has no measurable value' they feel happy to claim it is a waste of time.

But that's just an excuse. They are throwing the baby out with the bath water.

If I asked most MDs if they could calculate for me the ROI of their phone system, or their water cooler, or their carpets, or any of the other functional utilities their business depends on they would struggle in exactly the same way as we all struggle to establish the actual ROI of Social Media to an organisation.

So the next time someone asks you to show them the Social Media money just tell them you will as soon as they show you the ROI of their water cooler.