4 questions to ask yourself to add this crucial ingredient to digital marketing

Last week one of television’s best shows aired its finale. Mad Men certainly had its ups and downs throughout its seven seasons, but the finale solidified one of the main themes of the show in one of the most brilliant ways possible (we’ll get to the how later).

Throughout the various plot lines, triumphs and struggles of the refreshingly human characters, there was always advertising, and that eternal quest to forge an unbreakable emotional connection between product and consumer.

In that sense advertising hasn’t changed all that much in its merge with marketing and dive into digital. To feel is to connect. Connections build loyalty, and loyalty turns into sales. Without emotion, we feel hollow – and that’s not when we buy.

Below we share four questions you should ask yourself about your brand to help you infuse emotion into your digital marketing. Whether you’re selling toothpaste or B2B services, there’s always a connection to be made.

Your product is solving some problem. What is it?

I’d like to quickly clarify here that I’m using “product” in the broadest terms. A product could be a thing you’re selling, a service, a cause – anything. If you’re a brand, you exist for a purpose. You’re trying to influence action whether it’s something as concrete as a sale or more intangible like awareness. For the sake of this blog, that purpose is your product.

The best marketers – from Don Draper to your 2015 social media manager – don’t focus their messaging on their product, they focus on the problem their product exists to solve.

Sometimes this is easy – let’s take medication for example. Commercials showing people who are depressed, who have trouble sleeping, who get chronic headaches, etc. – these are all problems that promise to be solved with the product.

But what about something with less of an obvious “problem,” like bleach? The problem bleach intends to solve is to get out stains and sterilize. Everyone knows that. And that’s incredibly boring. It’s a problem without emotion, which will go nowhere in modern marketing.

Clorox brilliantly adds emotion to the mix with this spot. On the surface level, it’s still about needing to clean up. But there’s more going on than that. It’s about family and parenthood, which isn’t always “clean” but is always full of love. Clorox solves the problem of the messes that come with parenthood, so parents can focus on what really matters with the security of knowing Clorox will ensure they provide a clean and healthy home for their children.

What do you stand for as a brand?

Let’s talk about Coke for a minute. Coke is known as one of, if not the, most brilliantly marketed brands in the world. How weird is that? It’s soda. What could be emotionally compelling about a soft drink?

How many Coke commercials have you seen that focus on describing how delicious Coke tastes? Almost none. That’s because Coke doesn’t sell soda – Coke sells emotion. Coke sells what the brand stands for, not what the brand actually produces, though the latter brings in the profit as a byproduct.

Mad Men ended its series about connecting products with consumers with the ultimate commercial that connected a product with consumers: Coke’s iconic hilltop spot.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, series creator Matthew Weiner says, “Five years before that, black people and white people couldn’t even be in an ad together! …yeah, there’s soda in there with a good feeling, but that ad to me is the best ad ever made, and it comes from a very good place.”

Bill Backer, the real creator of the ad, depicts its meaning as “to see Coke not as it was originally designed to be — a liquid refresher — but as a tiny bit of commonality between all peoples, a universally liked formula that would help to keep them company for a few minutes.”

So what can we glean from all of this? Togetherness. That the human experience is universal, and it should be celebrated. That’s what was depicted in the famous hilltop ad, and that’s what their marketing continues to depict today – both on television and in the digital space.

That’s what Coke stands for as a brand – not soda – and that’s what their marketing sells. Make sure to ask yourself what your brand really stands for. There is an answer, and that may hold the missing ingredient to digital success.

How can you help?

A couple weeks ago I was pitching a client and they were complaining to me that every brand wants to be followed on social media. He made the point, “Why in the world would I want to follow my toothpaste on social media?”

Toothpaste, of course, was meant as a generic term for everyday products and items that have no real emotional value. Do you look at your toothpaste and feel nostalgic? Do you tear up when you glimpse at the bar of soap in the tub? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an emotional opportunity.

To answer his question, I would want to follow my toothpaste on social media if the brand was dedicated to adding value to some aspect of my life. Maybe they share important tips about oral health, or give advice for teaching your children to brush their teeth. Maybe they provide nutrition information to keep your teeth healthy while still enjoying the foods you love.

The point is, I wouldn’t follow a toothpaste brand on social media if they just tweeted every day about how their product is awesome. But if they can make an emotional connection with me by offering their channels as a resource, I’m instantly gracious for their help and more likely to buy their brand in the future.

Needless to say, I decided to look up toothpaste brands on social media. I found this awesome Pinterest account for Crest 3D White.

Crest on Pinterest

I don’t see a single image of toothpaste on their feed. Instead, it appears they have analyzed their target demographic and created a Pinterest account dedicated to providing health and appearance-conscious women in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s with information that is helpful to them including fitness tips, healthy recipes, fashion advice and more.

How can I create or elicit memories on a personal level?

I’d be remiss if I wrote a post about Mad Men without mentioning my all time favorite scene. It’s when Don pitches Kodak and convinces them to change the Wheel to the Carousel.

Mad Men: The Carousel from ray3c on Vimeo.

I’ll let this clip speak for itself, but add that cameras and photo equipment aren’t the only brands that can use nostalgia in their marketing with such a powerful effect. Ask yourself how your product can inspire your audience to remember fondly. Maybe it’s something as broad as family, or maybe it’s more specific – like your first day of school, your first date, etc.

Brands are just an extension of the human experience. How can you tap into it to make people remember?

2 thoughts on “4 questions to ask yourself to add this crucial ingredient to digital marketing

  1. I really like the Crest example. The Mad Men memories tip gave me hope that I might be on the right track with an idea around “My First Job.”
    Thanks!

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