Marketing Articles

Get out of your marketing bubble

Concentric Circles title graphic Get Out of Your Marketing Bubble
Unlike some last minute slackers (you know who you are), I knocked my taxes out early this year—refund ftw! I used TurboTax (not a plug, unless they wanna throw me some money) and at the end, they had those magazine offers you so often see. This time, I decided to take them up on the offer and picked out a few.

But my choices were deliberate. I wasn’t going to pick any business magazines. I wanted to get out of my bubble and research what I could learn from other types of publications. Consume content outside my regular world.

Ann Handley built a tiny house to do it, and often muses on her blog about how things outside of marketing made her think of marketing. Author and speaker Dorie Clark has started taking stand-up comedy classes. Jay Acunzo talks to creatives of all walks of life on his podcast. And they’re all fantastic marketers.

This is a theme I am hearing more and more often as we find ourselves constantly surrounded by work. People in our industry are also friends, and invite us to business groups on Facebook. Notifications from brands we manage outnumber the personal ones. We so often need a solace, an escape. And it can actually work wonders for our marketing. I’ll get into some of my lessons in a bit.

Why you should consume content outside your industry

But at the same time, maintain your awareness. Look for what works, what you gravitate towards. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the things that draw you in, the ideas you find clever and intriguing, and think about how you could do something similar.

Podcasts are a great example of this. I love listening to podcasts about marketing, and am subscribed to a ton of them. BUT, I’m learning some great storytelling lessons from things like S-Town and Slack’s podcast Work In Progress, which focuses on telling captivating stories about real people rather than how customers use their app. They only use the very end to add a blurb, featuring a customer and not just talking about them. Now, onto the aforementioned publications.

National Geographic: find the story behind the thing

One of the magazines I nabbed with this offer was National Geographic. Storytelling is something that National Geographic nails in their content. They don’t just report on something, they tell the story behind it—and everything has a story.

🌍 The planet (there’s a little history here)
👣 An obscure tribe of people (fascinating cultural differences)
🐚 The Great Barrier Reef (its past and questionable future)
🤖 The future (spoiler: it involves us and robots)

This has encouraged me to look deeper into things myself. What makes us tick? What makes things resonate? What brings people together, and why do they stay? Some of this I hope to incorporate into my interviews on this podcast. Why Austin? What about it works? What makes it weird, exceptional, and how are we contributing to or deteriorating that concept as marketers and business professionals here?

Esquire & Men’s Health: cover the tangentials

I’ll admit to being a sucker for advice on how to look and feel better (even if I can’t afford most of the items they suggest). But taking a deeper dive into the content these two magazines produce, those things are only part of the story.

Both of these publications nail the tangentials. They ask “What else does our audience care about? What other questions can we answer? What funny stories can we tell to entertain and/or inform them?” And that can actually make up the bulk of the content sometimes.

Red Bulletin: Learn from your fans

I know Red Bull has been covered ad nauseum when it comes to content, but I still want to give credit where credit is due. Their publication is exceptional, and hardly focuses on the product, save for a few placements. The magazine is almost exclusively focused on what else their consumers are interested in. And they are finding wild success in that endeavor.

Let’s look at a different example. Let’s say you cater to ecommerce merchants. Sure, you could talk about ecommerce tips until you’re blue in the face. But what else could be valuable to your audience? What else might they be interested in or find useful? Internet is crucial to ecommerce, so perhaps you create some content on picking the best routers or internet providers for business, or offer your take on the latest changes in internet regulation. Also, they value time, getting home to their family, managing stress, as well as just the individual things people love. Think about how you can tie these things into your content to talk to people on a different and more relatable level.

I’m using this same approach with “stock photography” for this blog and podcast. Rather than finding the standard marketing stock photos, I’m going out around Austin and taking my own, finding new ways to incorporate local flair to each post. Some will be iconic, some, like the one in this post’s graphic, are just things I randomly find around Austin (this is a painting in the lobby of an apartment complex!).

Now it’s your turn. Tell me ways you’re getting out of your marketing bubble to create new and interesting things. How do people respond to it? Comment below and share your perspective!

Keep it weird, y’all.

Marketing Articles

How Spredfast Killed It With Their SXSW Experience

Keep marketing weird spredfast sxsw experience rocked in Austin TX

SXSW Interactive has already come and gone, seemingly as quickly as an Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat story (my thoughts on Facebook stories in a later post). The festival brings with it unique tech experiences, smart speakers, and tons of marketers and technophiles looking for connection to others who share their passions.

This year was no different. Augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence dominated the conversation, and there were really cool demos. SXSW Interactive parties were in full force. There was no shortage of things to do. But one of my favorite experiences of the weekend was Spreadfast’s #SocialSuite.

The treats were tasty

Seriously. I’ll start here and briefly explain how much goodness there was. But the photo below tells the story pretty well. Aside from these decadent milkshakes (provided by local favorite Peached Tortilla), there were free cocktails, beer, and wine, awesome candy sushi (rice crispy treat with Swedish Fish, fruit roll-ups, etc), and a Sunday brunch. You could not leave this spot without being in a slight food/sugar coma. They also had their standard fare of goodies, like SmartPop popcorn, Kind bars, candy, mints, and other snacks to keep you fueled for SXSW overload. But food and drinks were only a minor part of the experience.

They set up for social sharing success

One of the tricky parts to hosting any event is encouraging social sharing and creating buzz in a way that feels natural and authentic. Spredfast set their attendees up so well, you almost couldn’t NOT share the experience to social. They set up well-lit, Instagram-friendly stations for you to take photos of your sugary concoctions, including a hashtag on the back wall of the station (which I accidentally cut out of the below photo, sorry peeps). A particularly clever addition was pink Scrabble-like tiles that allowed you to create your own little message in the photo.

Sweet milkshakes topped with donuts and candy from SXSW at the Spredfast Social Suite

There were also selfie stations, again with great lighting and hashtag added to a fun and colorful background, with plenty of space to take a great shot with friends. At the time of writing this, there were nearly 2,000 Instagram uses of the #SoSpredfast hashtag to date, and countless others on Twitter. It can best be summed up in this tweet by Spredfast CMO Jim Rudden:

Snapchat was not left out of the equation either. Putting specific focus on nearby Austin landmarks—the Buford Tower on Cesar Chavez, the Frost Building, and the Willie Nelson statue outside of Moody Theater—Spredfast created three fun and specific geofilters and a contest for extra swag if you sent all three snaps to Spredfast’s Snapchat inbox. The filters played well into each landmark, giving cactus arms to the tall, slender Buford Tower; putting a kitchy owl face over the Frost Building (most locals get the joke there); and having musical notes that line up as coming from Willie Nelson’s head. Clever, fun, and it got people walking around the immediate area to explore a bit more of Austin. I love it.

The experience was second to none

As a marketer who has been responsible for attendee experience in the past, I was thoroughly impressed with the experiential elements of Spreadfast’s Social Suite. The photo above shows one element, but the one that really took the cake is below. Spredfast provided a stage with a spinning camera and confetti cannon. This then translated to a slow-motion video/animated gif that ended up being the star of the experiential show.

Augmented reality had a solid presence in the Spredfast Social Suite, with two very cool elements. One was an interactive “book” that displayed popular tweets on pages as you turned them. It was a large, blank book with a projector above it, but reacted to your turning of the pages. So cool. There was also an air-hockey-like game that used sensor and light to figure out where your hand was and allowed you to knock a light-created puck back and forth. Video of that one below. Spredfast tells me that these two elements were thanks to local design company argodesign!

All this, plus a couple official Interactive panels, and an all-female panel at the Social Suite itself, with women from varying backgrounds sharing inspirational wisdom and stories both funny and touching.

There was even a “giving back” element to the swag Spredfast gave away. With a goal of 10,000 mentions of #Spredwater across social, Spredfast planned to donate to charity: water in their mission to bring clean water to people in Ethiopia. That’s a cause worth taking an extra moment to share and support.

Now, the question after an experiential campaign or event like this is “Yeah, but what was their ROI?” I’m scheduling time to chat on the podcast with one or two marketers responsible for the shenanigans. We’ll talk about how they came up with the ideas, how it went on their end, and what kind of return they saw from the event. Stay tuned!

Were you at SXSW this year? What was your favorite part? Did you hit the Spredfast Social Suite? If none of the above, who is a company that has killed it in experience in your travels? Chime in below!

Keep it weird, y’all!