American Idol is an amazing reflection of 7 of the most important marketing truths that many of us tend to forget about.
- Playing it safe isn’t good enough.
There’s nothing worse in American Idol than listening to some average song that you’ve already heard someone sing. Likewise, if the contestants do not reach out and show the range of their capabilities and talents then it’s not really a competition is it? Business is a competition. You are competing for the hard earned dollars of someone who needs your solution. If your marketing is stuck in a rut just because you’re constantly falling back on what used to work, then you’ll find that your techniques get less and less results every time. I find it interesting that so many attorneys throw tens of thousands of dollars into traditional Yellow Page advertising, even though phones books are used less than ever before. I’ve heard people say “the internet doesn’t work for me.” Maybe it’s you! The Internet has changed quite a bit in the last 15 years. If you expect to stay in the game, it’s time to stop playing it safe.
- Don’t Duplicate. Innovate!
So out comes the aspiring artist. Instead of showing us who she is, she tries to make you compare her against veteran entertainers who have sold millions of albums. Don’t try to be a 18 year old version of Celine Dion or Martina McBride. Take a great song and make it your own. I had a call last week from someone who wanted me to build him a Craigslist. After a short interview I discovered that he simply wants to be the “next” Craigslist, but he doesn’t really have the funds, the experience, or the talent to make it better. He simply wanted to duplicate Craigslist. The reason why Craigslist works isnt because of what it does, it’s because it was THE FIRST to do what it does. The only way to be the next Craigslist is to innovate and create something that is simply better, easier to use, and just as search engine friendly. Yes, there is room for competition, but unless you have the funds, and something that drives people to use your site over the original, then it’s just virtual karaoke.
- Don’t be forgettable. Stand Out.
The moment you’re forgettable you’ve lost. In American Idol, it’s not just the performances, it’s the outfits, it’s the dialogue, and it’s the entire experience that can make or break you. With marketing it’s all about frequency, creating a lasting impression, and getting people to talk about you. You don’t even have the best. Simply being the one who’s talked about can be enough. In marketing we spend so much time focusing on creative advertising, that we tend to forget about the power of publicity. With publicity you can not only re-enforce your advertising message, but you can reach people who aren’t paying attention to your ads. Marketing is more than just advertising, just publicity, or just promoting yourself. Marketing is the entire package. You must create multiple marketing messages that work together across the entire spectrum of advertising, publicity and promotions.
- Be outstanding. Not outrageous.
True art is about balance. Sometimes it’s the little things, the nuances, the pregnant pauses, and the attention to extreme detail that can really makes the difference in a performance. Creating loyalty, fans, and a following through outstanding marketing can really help you break through the clutter. Consumers are constantly being barraged with marketing messages. Your ability to create a campaign that brings out your best can work wonders to the bottom line. Be careful though. If you focus too much on a few aspects of the performance you can become disconnected from your audience. Your audience wants you to be unique and memorable, but if you cross the imaginary line suddenly you’re ridiculous, outrageous, and out of the game.
- Do what you do best.
Focus on your strengths while minimizing you weaknesses. There’s nothing funnier than watching a rocker try to compete on American Idol’s “country night.” Usually the singers who are good at R&B, Blues, and even Pop music will completely bomb. But, at the end of the song, nobody is focusing on how good of a country singer someone is. They’re focusing on whether or not they enjoyed the performance. Likewise in marketing… it’s important to reach out and explore, but ultimately your primary focus should be in your element. By focusing on your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses, you can gain momentum in your industry. As a entrepreneur, if you can do other things and create multiple streams of income, then go for it. But the marketing for a particular business should focus on building your core reputation. You might not be a country singer, but you can consistently be a brilliant artist.
- Show confidence not ego.
People want to know that you know what you’re doing. But nobody likes an pious egomaniac. People love it when American Idol contestants mature from shy to confident. But when a contestant reveals a super-ego, the public quickly turns on them. Likewise, when you’re competing for someone’s business, never bash the competition. Instead simply point out your strengths and explain why you have the best solution. Simply showing respect for the competition shows that you understand and sympathize with the consumer’s dilemma of having to make the right decision. You can show that you’re the better solution without having to simply say, “trust me, I’m the best.”
- Always be raising the bar.
In American Idol, we expect the contestants to improve from week to week. Likewise when people are following you, your products, and/or your services, they expect you to be showing constant improvements. The moment they realize that someone else has passed you up, they’re off to the next greatest thing. Stay relevant. Stay current. And stay on top.
- Tony Darrick Baker