I recently wrote about a brainstorming exercise where you envision your brand as a big tourist attraction, using all their attributes to come up with a clever campaign that appeals to multiple audiences.
Brands can speak to the aficionado, too.
Ralph Gardner, Jr. wrote a story in The Wall Street Journal about going to the chocolate show in Manhattan, where he tasted lots of samples of fancy dark chocolate from around the globe. He likes Hershey bars, and after tasting a piece of 91% cacao-content chocolate Gardner wrote: “If I wanted to test the limits of human endurance, I’d climb Mount Everest or jump out of an airplane. I wouldn’t do it by suffering through a chocolate bar.”
The chocolatier who shared the tasting with him didn’t really like the stuff, either, noting that the taste of that almost pure cacao was “palatable.” And therein lies the secret of the aficionado. The experience doesn’t have to be spectacular it just has to be extreme.
For a marketer, reaching the aficionado is all about telling an unusual story about something that is rare, hard-to-understand, or so complicated that it takes an expert (or someone with a really tolerant palate) to appreciate it. Its distance from the mainstream makes it appealing, its cultish quality drives desire and, as we all know, if enough people catch on to the trend, it becomes factored into the mainstream. Hershey’s Dark Chocolate, anyone?
When telling a story about your brand, ask yourself – what is the one thing about my brand that would appeal to the aficionado? How can I tell a story to capture his or her attention?
What’s your story? Let me know what you come up with.
Driving through Central Park this weekend, I saw four tourists walking single file along the car-clogged road that connects West 96th Street to the Upper East Side. They were hiking on the edge of the street. Central Park was hidden from them – and from traffic — by a high wall.
With the beautiful park only steps away, I figured those folks got some pretty bad advice for how to cross the park. They looked hot and unhappy. They probably were hot and unhappy. That dirty trek may well be what they will remember most about their trip to New York.
Which got me thinking about how to frame a marketing campaign to appeal to the tourists for your brand. You know, the ones who think they might like you but are just checking you out? What does a tourist need to really fall in love with you?
- Great maps. They need to understand your brand’s layout.
- Local cell phone coverage. They need to be able to call for help at any time.
- An up-to-date guidebook. To show them what’s new and improved!
- A good concierge. A local guide, who can tailor advice to their wants and needs.
- A big spectacle. They need to be wowed.
- An opportunity to discover something on their own, because that’s what they’re going to remember the most.
When building a marketing campaign, I’d say that 1-4 are the cost of entry. Brands need to be clear about who they are, be easy to get access to, feel like a personal friend, be fresh and relevant. But what is often overlooked is that element of wow and, even more difficult, personal discovery that feels unique to them.
Whether it’s a special offer for Facebook fans only, a free you-name-it (coffee, flower bouquet, waltz-lessons on 42nd Street) when you least expect it, a billboard in Times Square with your photo on it, what can you create for your brand tourists to discover that’s so unexpected, they’ll think they discovered it themselves?
What’s your story?