Trying to imitate the digital giants is an exercise in futility and frustration.
I remember sitting in front of a television with a bunch of people about ten months ago utterly confused about what was going on. It was Super Bowl XLVII and the lights in the stadium had simply turned off right after the halftime show. Little did anyone know that this disturbance would provide one of the most famous viral marketing stunts in recent history: Oreo’s “You Can Still Dunk In The Dark.”
As if talk about Super Bowl advertising isn’t already frustrating enough for those of us managing marketing budgets of less than half a dozen digits, for the next month we had to be bombarded with hundreds of ‘What we can learn from Oreo’s brilliant ad’ blog posts.
Oreo’s ploy was dubbed “the benchmark for breakthrough marketing.” After all, the ad from one of America’s most famous cookies accumulated more than 21,000 likes on Facebook and nearly 16,000 retweets on Twitter.
So there’s a lot to be learned from this ‘case study,’ right? Wrong. Learning from the top-down simply doesn’t work.
Unless your brand has thousands upon thousands of social media followers, you probably could have posted an even cleverer and more relevant ad, and without an insane amount of luck, it would’ve gone nowhere. And this is the essential problem with where we take marketing insights from.
We need to stop learning exclusively from established brands. Most of us simply do not have the resources or social capital to truly imitate any of these ‘marketing deities.’ We will simply burn the far limited resources we have only to find out that we should have just saved our time and money in the first place.
Doesn’t it make a lot more sense to learn from the bottom-up? If we look at the stories of successful marketers from companies you’ve never heard of and stunts that required few to no resources or reputation, we can derive insights that are tangible and applicable.
This isn’t all to say that Oreo’s ad wasn’t brilliant. It was. But to pretend that SMB’s can ‘tap into the moment’ in any similar fashion is ludicrous. We’re outsiders and we need to accept that. Let’s instead learn from the ‘fringe’ cases – from those who were resourceful and innovative, and we may just begin to understand marketing on a new level.
Entrepreneurial marketers have been called ‘growth hackers’ because of their ability to find innovative ways to extend their brand despite overwhelming barriers. They’re able to grow because they are of a different mindset – they follow a different set of rules.
In my webinar on October 31, I will delve into the techniques ‘growth hackers’ use to market and evangelize their brands. I will tell the story of two marketers who succeeded without emptying their bank accounts. You may just find that being resourceful is better than having resources.