A Treat for Readers

Listen carefully and you can already hear the screams. It’s that time of year when complete strangers wander from door to door trying their best to frighten you. I’m not talking about election season. It’s Halloween!

My kids received long-distance mailings from their grandparents last week, including a little money to pick out their own Halloween treats. My son instantly asked to spend his at the bookstore. I absolutely love that he thinks it’s a “treat” to read. If I handed out books to other costumed crusaders, I’d expect to find my house freshly coated in egg yolks the next morning.

Thirty years ago this October, Pizza Hut founded its “BOOK IT!” reading program on the fundamental belief that if you want kids to read, you’ve got to give them a good reason. Who knew that you could convince entire generations of people to willingly digest pages upon pages of content with the simple promise of a free personal pan pizza? That’s exactly what Pizza Hut has done for decades, and they’re sweetening the deal this year with a $30,000 college scholarship for one lucky bookworm.

The success of “BOOK IT!” holds a valuable business lesson. It proved the importance of understanding what your audience craves. That’s not to say that every company should hand out free food and cash, although it might not hurt.

As readers, we don’t check out books just to see the “About the Author” page. And as consumers we don’t engage with marketing just to learn random facts about businesses.

David Jones, the publications manager for John Deere, recently spoke at the 2014 Content Marketing World conference. He shared that the company’s printed magazine The Furrow is still thriving after nearly 120 years. It’s now available in 14 languages, and a recent survey revealed that 45 percent of Furrow readers go through it from cover to cover.

Why? Interestingly, the magazine isn’t about John Deere and the company’s equipment. The business is seldom mentioned throughout decades of Furrow articles. Instead, the agricultural journal focuses on current issues and best practices related to farming. Since John Deere owns and operates the publication, it gets exclusive rights to the limited ad space. According to Jones, the majority of surveyed Furrow readers acknowledge that those ads are the first place where they learn about John Deere’s new products and services.

As readers, we don’t check out books just to see the “About the Author” page. And as consumers we don’t engage with marketing just to learn random facts about businesses. We seek entertainment or information that’s interesting to us. When we find those stories that resonate, then we tend to connect with the source. Companies like John Deere are increasingly finding ways to share their expertise in formats that are useful and intriguing to consumers. In return, readers are following those brands.

Before your next marketing project, consider what stories you’re telling. Are you serving up personal pan pizzas to entice your audience? Or, are you just feeding them the same old corporate jargon? Let’s treat them to something worth remembering.

 


 

Chad

 

Chad Armstrong first set foot in the advertising world as an account coordinator. He continued to pursue his dreams of writing and eventually worked his way into the creative department. Chad is now the senior copywriter at KCG and he’s literally known for going the extra mile as a distance runner with a passion for marathons. When he’s not on the go, you can find him managing the Boston Red Sox from his recliner or enjoying the works of other writers.

Lessons Digital Marketers Can Learn from Kevin Costner Baseball Movies

I know, it’s an astoundingly specific subset of movies from which to draw an analogy, right? But, let me explain. Baseball is nothing if not a game of strategy; adjusting lineups, positions and pitchers to accommodate specific situations.

Costner’s baseball movies tend to focus on the everyday aspects of the game. The day-to-day part of it. So for this post, I want to talk about that part of digital marketing — the day in, day out work that makes a plan successful.

Field of Dreams

Yes, he will come. But only when you put in an insane amount of work into the part of that sentence occupied by the comma. So what did Costner have to do for the 90 minutes of movie between building it and when “He comes”? He made a cross-country trip, gave a disgraced ballplayer a second chance, kidnapped James Earl Jones, and fulfilled the life-long dream of a small town doctor. He had to put in all that work to reach his goal. (If you don’t start ugly crying at the 1:50 mark, you might be a robot.)

My point is that just building it won’t get you very far. Whatever “IT” is doesn’t matter. A website, an app, an AdWords campaign. They all take nurturing, thought, planning and work. We can’t just turn a product loose and hope for the best. We have to work, we have to earn success.

Bull Durham

Listen carefully to what the pitcher says. “I’m cruising.” He’s in a groove and doing great, so why should he change that now? The thing you have to know about baseball is that hitters catch on pretty quick. They recognize patterns.

The same goes for advertising. When we start doing the same thing over and over again, people take notice and then stop noticing. We need to be one step ahead of our audience. We should hit the bull once in a while. Don’t let your audience get comfortable.

Look at the current campaign from GE. They had a gorgeous, Emmy nominated spot, “Childlike Imagination.” They followed that up with the similar “The Boy Who Beeps.” Both spots were all about childlike wonder and making the world better with your ideas and talents. Then came Jeff “Crazy Eyes” Goldblum.

A complete curve ball (See what I did there? I’m not sorry). The messaging is still very much on point. An innovative idea that became an innovative product. But they hit the bull with this one. They hit it hard, and it works.

Knock It Out of the Park
What I’m trying to get at here is this: there is no easy path to successful online marketing. It takes a lot of hard work. But with nearly 40 percent of the world’s population spending time on the Internet*, and the average smartphone user picking up their device almost 150 times per day**, can you really afford to shortchange the digital side of your marketing campaign? Build it. Do the work. They will come.

References:
* http://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2014/09/global-internet-usage-by-the-numbers-infographic.html

** http://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2014/09/essential-skills-internet-marketers-need-to-master-infographic.html

 


 

mosherAs KCG’s interactive director, Justin Mosher is responsible for anything with a pixel, from building websites to creating digital publications, and from crafting social media strategies to providing consulting services. With 10 years in the digital space, you’ll always find this self-admitted techie exploring the latest and greatest to find opportunities for our clients. After a long day behind computer screens, Justin looks forward to unplugging with a hearty beef stew and time with his wife and two girls.