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.

Marketing Goes “Boink”

Lessons from a little boy and his tiger about trust, taking risks, innovating and enjoying the ride.

Growing up, I always identified with the cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbes. I probably still do to some extent. Their adventures taught me many important lessons about life. I learned about embracing the fleeting moments of joy, the pain and heartbreak that come with death, the importance of fostering a rich imagination and that despite the fact that I have a wife and two daughters, I will never understand what goes on inside a girl’s head.

Every day I have to get up and go to school. Nothing ever changes. It’s just school, school, school. But not today. Today, I go for the gusto. – Calvin

The longer I work in the digital marketing world, the more I have come to realize that Calvin and Hobbes is actually a fantastic metaphor for a healthy agency / client relationship.

The role a good digital agency is to innovate, to go careening down a hill like Calvin on his sled; not knowing exactly what waits for us at the bottom, only that it will be a new and exciting ride and that everyone will come out better for it on the other side. It’s the job of your agency to experiment with seemingly reckless abandon — we wouldn’t be much good to you if we didn’t.

Now, I’m not suggesting that an agency should just throw itself blindly down a hill with no idea of what’s at the bottom. You see, Calvin had Hobbes. Hobbes kept him focused. He reigned in Calvin’s wild ideas when necessary, asked if Calvin had run it by his mother (read: legal department) and then gleefully jumped on the back of the sled with him.

The best clients are the Hobbes to the agency’s Calvin. They expect the crazy ideas, and anything less is disappointing. But, the most important thing to remember about Calvin and Hobbes is how they always worked together. They were friends, partners and co-conspirators. They trusted each other implicitly. Sure, they disagreed from time to time, but they knew that each other’s best interests were always top of mind and they never really put themselves at risk. Sure, Calvin was the crazy one, but Hobbes was always there to encourage the crazy.

And Hobbes, like any engaged client, always kept Calvin on his toes. Calvin had to always be ready and never get comfortable. Because when an agency gets comfortable, they get complacent. That’s when the boring work happens. The work that may get the job done, but isn’t exciting anymore. Every agency requires a good pouncing every now and then.

“Everybody seeks happiness! Not me, though! That’s the difference between me and the rest of the world. Happiness isn’t good enough for me! I demand euphoria!” – Calvin

As Koch employees, we have all been challenged to innovate. To challenge the status quo, embrace change and redefine what the “best” is. Just like Calvin, we should all be striving for something better. Our leaders, and even more importantly, our customers expect it of us, even if it’s a little scary at first.

Which leads us to that scary hill known as digital marketing. It’s a landscape that’s constantly evolving. It’s not enough to just have a website or a Facebook page anymore. Every day, a new opportunity comes knocking and it’s up to us to innovate and stay ahead of the curve. In this ever-changing world of digital marketing, every business needs a trusted partner; Hobbes needs a Calvin to be successful.

Marketing is changing. This past holiday shopping season, mobile sales accounted for nearly 26 percent of all sales. That is an increase of 49 percent over the past year.1 Digital marketing and engagement, particularly in mobile, is here to stay and companies have to keep up. Companies must leap over the edge and embrace the technology to reach their customers where they are now.

So what does your digital marketing strategy look like? How is your company reaching out to the nearly 77 percent of consumers who research products and services on their mobile device?2

Koch Creative Group is uniquely positioned to understand your specific business needs. Whether its traditional marketing or digital, we are able to find the right mix of crazy ideas that accomplish your goals and still live up to high expectations.

“It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy…Let’s go exploring!” – Calvin

We’d love to get together and explore with you sometime. Give us a shout.

References:
1. http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?1837
2. http://think.withgoogle.com/databoard/#lang=en-us&study=23&topic=62&dp=315

 


 

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.