To be or not to be disruptive
You know those people who get you gifts and obviously know nothing about you? That sums up this blog assignment I received. I was told to write about “How to be loud and disruptive,” but frankly, I despise the word disruptive when it comes to marketing. It brings to mind thoughts of petulant children throwing fits in grocery stores and restaurants, disrupting the pleasantness of everyone around. Now, think about throwing in 50 children, all being disruptive, and you have a gathering of ad-like suffering.
The word “disruptive” has been used by ad agencies (at least for the past 12 years since I’ve started) for a while to pretend they know what to do about getting your brand noticed. It’s as bad as “synergy” when it comes to advertising buzzwords and needs to be thrown out of the marketing lexicon. “We’re going to burst in and mix things up and break all the rules.” Good luck picking up those pieces when you haven’t taken the time to discover what your audience truly wants.
Think about the last Superbowl. How many times do you hear “I only watch it for the ads”? Now think to yourself how many of those commercials you remember and what they were selling. Kind of hard when you think about it, right? Every single one of them were being disruptive and ended up globbing together to create an ad monster I call Disruptron.
How disruptive digital marketing can backfire
- You took too big a risk and alienated your core audience. Maybe they aren’t funny or into breaking down walls or being outlandish. If you go too far one way, you could lose them.
- You can come off as inauthentic. (Big no for Millennials and Gen Z. They told me.) It’s hard to take the always funny person seriously (trust me, I know), which could end up making you look like a phony depending on what you sell.
- You’re not different enough. When all your competitors are saying the same disruptive thing in the same disruptive way, who are your potential customers supposed to go to?
- No one could even remember what your ad was about. How many conversations have you had that started with “Did you see the one with the dancing tiger that juggled puppies? Hi-larious. But I don’t remember what it was for.” That could end up being you. (Cue ominous music.)
Here’s where the twist happens though. Instead of being disruptive in the ad space, start thinking about being clever. Clever implies smart and crafty with intention. Your marketing can be clever without making a scene and can illicit positive emotional responses without being overbearing. You can stay creative without offending, funny without being obnoxious or emotional while dialing back the sap.
How to be clever in a crowded advertising space.
- Listen to your audience. It’s not enough to know who they are, you can get crucial points of what they actually want by taking the deeper dive. People don’t want a mechanic; they want to be able to pick up their kids like they promised.
- Talk to your customers like real people. You know who loves all those acronyms and technicalities all the leaders at your company use? Not your audience.
- USE THE DATA! Whether it’s from a 3rd party or not, data can help tell you the difference between Males 18-35 and Males 18-35 who like to drink orange soda when it’s 70 degrees out on Tuesdays in months ending in “y.”
- Don’t be afraid to try something new. When you have boiled down all the data, discovered what your audience likes or doesn’t, now you have a chance to do something new if you want. It doesn’t have to be Earth shattering, but it can be big enough to get you those extra sales.
It’s times like these where I think back to my schooling. Although it could never teach me everything I need to know about marketing (I’m still learning), I do remember one thing: not once did any of my teachers talk about being disruptive. They pushed for creativity, thinking like your audience, asking “why” and above all else, tailoring your message to the right people. In my mind, that’s not being disruptive, it’s being a great marketer.
If everyone is disruptive, no one is, and you have a bunch of people yelling at each other like a stock exchange before the market crashes. That’s what makes iluminere different. We have a clever approach designed to get your specific brand to stand out among the crowded space without being disruptive. Every company is different and that’s why iluminere uses the data and a team of highly skilled markets to determine what works best for you and your audience. After all, it’s about being in the right spot at the right time, not trying to yell over everyone else for attention.