Conventional wisdom says if you want to get your brand in front of a large audience, you've got to pay big bucks. For instance, a single 30-second ad spot in weekday primetime television goes for a minimum of $25 thousand. Advertising slots on popular podcasts can run between $25 and $40 per thousand listeners. And Facebook ads are getting quite expensive too.
When you play by the rules of the powers that have control of the audiences you want access to, then it will only get increasingly more difficult and expensive to reach your ideal customers.
However, as an entrepreneur, you don't have to play by the rules everyone else has defined. You can create your own game--with your own rules--that disrupts your market, turns the tables in your favor, and gives you complete access to an audience you build yourself.
The rule-breaking strategy that built a multi-billion dollar business
Back in the 1930's, Procter & Gamble began producing their own content in the form of radio shows. They infused their brand into the content, and sponsored the shows as well. A company spokesperson describes the extent of this strategy:
P&G has always been at the forefront of production innovation, with a rich history of produced programs, beginning with the development of radio serials in the 1930s. It was our sponsorship of these programs with brands like Duz and Oxydol that coined the phrase "soap opera."
In the decades that followed, P&G Productions created 20 soap operas on radio and television, becoming a pioneer in producing award-winning daytime serials like As The World Turns and Guiding Light, which ended in September 2009 after 72 years. GL still holds the Guinness World Record for the longest running show in broadcast history.
In addition to the massive increases in sales, and brand awareness, this approach also dramatically decreased their advertising budget. One analyst noted:
"By producing its own shows and advertising on them as well, P&G cut out so many middlemen that it saved as much as 75 percent of its advertising costs."
P&G disrupted their industry by engaging in a promotional strategy where they made the rules. And of course, they created rules designed for them to win.
You can do the same.
In today's digital world, you have the opportunity to create your own game. Sure, you could continue to spread the word about your products and services through traditional forms of media.
But why not shake things up and turn the tables in your favor? You could produce your own podcast, YouTube series, or channel.
To be clear, the goal isn't to create one long commercial for your offering. Nobody would want to tune into that.
Instead, focus on creating educational, entertaining content that your audience would be eager to tune into again and again.
Here are 3 strategic ways to do it effectively.
1. Teach with educational content
Produce a show that is filled with content that teaches your ideal customers how to succeed with the specific problem your product helps them with. Show them how to do the other things associated with helping them be great.
This helps you create the ultimate "customer success" team. The key thing to remember is it's not just about your product. It's about all the other things associated with it that your customers need to thrive.
Novartis does this well with their "Life Hacks" videos on YouTube that help people living with multiple sclerosis find a way to make everyday tasks simpler.
2. Connect with entertainment-based content intertwined with product references
This is product placement at it's finest. Instead of paying big names for a mention of or to be seen using your product, create content where your product is a character within the storyline. But in a totally natural way that doesn't feel overly promotional.
GoPro Motorsports does this with their original YouTube series Driven. In each episode, they take an in-depth look into the lives of some of today's greatest athletes.
3. Sponsor entertainment & educational content that you produce
Create valuable content that entertains your audience, on a topic that is related to what your business does. And then you sponsor each of those episodes, so it's a natural fit for your audience.
For instance, eBay produces and sponsors the Open for Business podcast in partnership with Gimlet Media. In each episode they tell the stories of entrepreneurs who are building their businesses from the ground up.
To compete effectively in your market, you don't have to play the same game that everyone else does. You can build valuable, entertaining, and unique content that speaks directly to your ideal audience for your products and services.
As a result, you can build stronger bonds with your customers, make more sales, and do it on smaller budget. A smart strategy indeed.