Friday Digital Roundup
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How Marketing Works: A Ducking Simple Explanation
On the 15th July 2017, Bobbi Elena Victoria Todd was born.
She took just 11 minutes to pop out and the incredible Jo did it all by herself with no pain relief! (That’s hypnobirthing for you, apparently.)
Bob simply lay there, looking up, taking it all in, as babies do.
She slept in hospital through all the noise from machines and expectant mothers and helpful nurses and crying babies. She was a dream. She didn’t even cry for 6 weeks.
Whenever we put her down, she slept (like any baby) and although she slept for just a few hours and woke for milk from mummy we knew, “This soon would pass”.
But 12 months on… 15 months on… 26 months on… 30 months on… Bob still woke every few hours.
We were exhausted. All of us.
We tried everything (even f***ing lavender). Yes, everything. And yes, we had, and still have, a bedtime routine with a bath, and we read stories and no – of course we don’t watch too much iPad before bed.
We were broken. Seriously… we were on our last legs.
Jo was struggling. I was struggling. Bob was tired. Something had to give.
It affected our work, our relationship, our bodies, our lives. We were so desperate we looked at all sorts of options, experts, and theories.
That was until one day we started rewarding her with stickers…
Suddenly it became very obvious that all we needed to do was get Bob to buy into this. Bob was tired… but she didn’t understand it was because of her sleeping. Waking every two hours was all she knew.
Stickers resulted in a couple of nights of better sleep, but they didn’t quite cut it.
So, we bought some bath ducks and every night that Bob stayed in her own bed (even if she came out of it loads of times and was ushered back) she got a duck.
“Stay in bed ‘aaaaaaall night’ and you get a duck.”
Every duck was (and still is) selected the night before, just before bed. She looked at it – visualising the win – and then we went to bed.
She set her goal and she nailed it over and over again.
So, we shared it (as we had the lack of success for the three years prior) on social media – and people started sending ducks.
To date we’ve had around 550 ducks in varying forms from all parts of the world and from all sorts of folk: most of them from our Facebook group, Spaghetti Besties.
And herein lies this week’s lesson in marketing…
Our duck story has gone crazy, culminating in live unboxing, constant Amazon parcels, and even content going out to new clients with a duck theme.
It’s totally off-brand for us, so we’ll be shutting up about it now, but there are some seriously important marketing lessons that we wanted to share so shut the duck up and listen…
A relatable problem
Firstly, all marketing needs a hook, a problem, or something very easy and relatable that everyone you’re marketing too can understand. Far too much marketing is complicated and forgets to resonate with the audience it’s aimed at.
Everyone in our group has experienced problems, but the sleepless nights, hopefully not so much. Of course, the parents who could identify with our situation were instantly in pain with us when we shared the story of Bob’s sleep. But what about the others?
Well, it’s easy to imagine a lack of sleep as nearly all of us have experienced that at some point, and that’s where the audience were able to get on board with this story, that’s the common ground where we all relate.
Your marketing needs to relate to your audience. Just look at any successful marketing and you’ll find that. Ours was reverse what your marketing needs to do as we got our audience to resonate with our pain… but maybe that’s a good approach too.
I’ve been banging the drum with storytellers all over marketing for years now. We’re all onboard with the idea that storytelling makes your marketing more powerful and memorable, right? Great.
The story of the ducks was the perfect storm really. And it was pure accident and not intended to be such a big thing, but the lesson remains; storytelling needs to be deep, relatable, continual, and it needs to build up over time.
Away from the few months in our Facebook group, there are over three years of content from Jo and I dropping into conversations and posts that we haven’t slept. (Some said it was maybe a law of attraction gone wrong. They’re probably right. But hey – we’re almost out of it now.)
But the simple fact is; we kept telling it and then when we finally found the solution – the ducks – it all came together in the perfect crescendo.
Your story needs a hero. Every successful story ever told has a hero and the Disney method of storytelling and the TED Talks formula both use this. The ducks were our hero… as were the Besties and friends who sent them to us!
This is the answer to all your problems. Consistency. Most marketing fails because it stops before the message hits home. Most Facebook ads fail because the advertiser changes their mind when a few hundred quid doesn’t fill their event bookings.
Consistency is the key to your marketing. Duck jokes, pictures, updates, jokes and then tags and pictures from content all over the internet started to flood the group, and then even the ads on the timelines of our members started to show rubber duck-related adverts!
It was then and only then that people started to send in ducks, and then of course – once one did it, others followed in their footsteps!
Consistency is what you need. It’s not actually that important that you do the right marketing as it is that you do the right amount of marketing. Be consistent and it’ll out do inconsistent strategies time and time again.
Simple to grasp and get involved with
Who doesn’t know what a rubber duck is? Everyone knows what one is, what they’re for, and has probably got one or had one in the past. They’re part of childhood, right?
And herein lies another golden nugget for marketing success: Simplicity.
Keeping your message and your call to action simple (as well as consistent) will engage more people. Even on a Facebook post, you can fail by being too complicated. Ask too much of your audience and you’ll simply send them scrolling.
Marketing needs simplicity. Simple means successful in many of the big brand campaigns and in this ducking monologue it was a simple case of a little girl who slept through the night for ducks… so people sent us ducks. So.Many.Ducks.
Easy to be a part of the movement
Another strong learning point from the ducking adventure is the realisation that sending a duck in the post put the sender at the centre of our story and actually – they became the story. Getting ‘brand advocates’ can be a tricky task but it’s well worth it in the long run.
It does seem though that making it an exciting and rewarding proposition not only attracts people – but also keeps them engaged, too!
Some people sent more than one duck, some sent more than one parcel, and some sent more than just ducks! People actually competed to send the best present and we rewarded their incredible thoughtfulness and generosity with a live unboxing, and a personal thank you; sometimes with a video from Bobbi herself (if she was in the right toddler mood!).
Make your customers part of the story. This is huge. Write this down. If your customers aren’t on the journey with you then you’re failing them. Ask Apple; it’s core to their brand and success as Simon Sinek to eloquently put in his iconic Ted Talk.
… and we just kept posting!
Marketing is rarely an overnight success. Getting our daughter to sleep through wasn’t either – by a long shot.
We rarely see a campaign or strategy work right away, and certainly not overnight.
The ducks took months to take light and in fact they were merely the end of a three year-long story. Many of the group knew about our struggles and posts about “F***ing lavender” and T-shirts with “Probably tired” were commonplace for years.
The ducks were merely the end of a long campaign of awareness. You can of course make your marketing work faster than three years, but it puts all this into context – marketing takes time.
In fact, marketing takes all of the above elements:
- A relatable problem/situation
- Keeping your customers central to the story
- And adding layer upon layer of on-brand and on-message marketing.
Thank duck for that!
This has been a rather unusual way to look at marketing, and obviously it was completely unintentional, but all the elements are there. Bring your customers on board with you, get them to be a part of your journey and cheer you on. It has to make sense to them and be something they want to be involved in, though.
Oh… and one last thing (the Columbo moment…) Make it fun!
The ducks were very light-hearted and fun, and many have said that the duck unboxing videos were the highlight of their day during this rather grim time we’re having in 2020.
Educate and entertain; two winning words for marketing strategy!
The moment 500 ducks arrived in the post
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