How many brands do you interact with each day? From the moment you wake up, you're constantly exposed to brands without even knowing it, and with the influx of different media channels--television, radio, social media, and more--those interactions have grown exponentially in recent years. In fact, we spend more than 10 hours a day interacting with media, but how many of those interactions actually lead us to a purchase?
As marketers, we're tasked with breaking through the noise of everyday life to reach our customers, and it can be tempting to make a big splash with a creative experience to stand out. We've all seen over-the-top marketing campaigns that grab our attention and sometimes it is not in the best way. If you're considering a disruptive marketing effort, some things to consider:
Does it fit your brand? Before acting on an out-of-the-box idea, ask yourself these two questions: Would this behavior align with our brand image, and, is our message genuine? If you are unsure about the answer to either of these questions, seek clarity in the idea and potentially reevaluate your motivation for stirring the pot. A great example is Payless's recent efforts to modernize its brand and reach a new segment of customers through the launch of a fictional luxury store, Palessi. Payless invited influencers to visit the store and unknowingly pay top dollar for Payless shoes. The result? A viral hit that reached a new target audience of fashionistas that was still authentic to the brand.
Will it give you the results? You should have clear objectives for all marketing efforts. A big marketing stunt could drive brand awareness, but if your goal is sales, your stunt most likely won't deliver the return you want. For example, when IHOP recently rebranded itself as IHOb to promote burger sales, they saw an uptick in social conversation, but not in purchase consideration from customers. When considering a marketing stunt, you should have a perspective on the ROI and whether the results outweigh the risks.
How will your customers respond? Know your target audience and know them well. Will this campaign fit their expectations? There are ways to soft sound ideas to gauge whether it will work or not with committees or focus groups. If executed well, your disruption could greatly increase brand loyalty. Opening your business to a level of transparency about thoughts and beliefs can allow your customers to feel a deeper connection with your brand, transforming the buyer-seller relationship into something more than just a transaction.
How will your brand respond? Sometimes it's not enough just to disrupt, then walk away. Brands looking to ignite social change should remember that they themselves must be willing to show their own efforts for change. Before taking a stand or planning a disruptive campaign, consider how your brand will follow up with its audience after the campaign rolls out. You will gain the most respect from customers when your actions speak even louder than your words. Gillette did just this after their recent disruption in the #MeToo movement. Working from their famous tagline, "The Best a Man Can Get," Gillette challenged men all around the world to do just that and committed $1 million to local programs designed to educate men about what it looks like to be positive role models to the next generation. Regardless of your opinion on the subject matter, it definitely made an impact on consumers.
When looking to increase brand visibility, it can be tempting to dive in to the media scene headfirst with flashy activations. Remember that as good as flashy may be, so is classy. Many brands have temporarily damaged their brand by jumping in too quick and not considering the possible downfalls. Disruptive marketing is done best when it's genuine, strategic, and built to withstand the rigor of modern day media and public sentiment.