RAMP up your brand with curiosity
It may have killed the cat, but it could save your brand
INBOUND track star
I started my new agency life with the largest gathering of marketing professionals at HubSpot’s INBOUND conference. INBOUND was an incredible pre-first-day-of-new-agency-job training experience. Between riding in Ubers around Boston and sitting through Amy Schumer’s comedy act together, I got acclimated to my new team pretty quickly.
Other than learning my PR for sprinting to the next popular session (coming in hot at 6:03.23), my favorite part of INBOUND was learning from the kings and queens of marketing themselves. King marketer Rohit Bhargava particularly stood out to me.
Admittedly, this might be why:
Guys, my dark chocolate addiction is revolutionizing the large conference industry.
Bhargava, best-selling author of Likeonomics and Non-Obvious, held a session titled The Super-Human Art of Predicting the Future: 5 Trends that Will Change Your Business. I think I ended up there because the other two sessions I wanted to attend were full. I wasn’t sprinting fast enough (heels < sneakers). Luckily for me, plan C ended up being one of my favorite lessons.
Bhargava emphasized the transformative power of being curious as a marketer, which sparked my curiosity (ha). Here’s why curiosity matters:
We are seriously so boring
There’s a reason #basic is a thing now (PSL, anyone?)
Consumers can literally tailor all of their feeds and news sources to be only what they want to hear or what is relevant to them.
Woah — thanks for that, Internet. This is a problem because we are still highly social beings who have souls. Souls are not created on an assembly line, so why are we acting like it through our news feeds?
Curiosity is the cure
Cats die from curiosity (and you won’t find me crying about it), but humans thrive from it. Especially marketer humans.
Here’s how you can RAMP up your brand with curiosity:
Read someone else’s magazine
We are all familiar with the empathy-prompting phrase, “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” In a more practical sense than getting athlete’s foot just to prove the point of a proverb, Bhargava suggests that we “Read someone else’s magazine” to be better marketers and better human beings.
How can reading a teenage skateboarding magazine possibly help?
Understand ‘foreign’ audiences — “Shred it up” and “Gnarly” are just some of the terms you may find in a skater’s magazine that you wouldn’t in Better Homes and Gardens. Reading the stories these shredders care about and the lingo that is prevalent in their niche market can help you empathize with a totally different group of people.
Niche markets might have cool stuff going on — You might discover a way of doing something that could relate to your industry, or even a new cool hobby for yourself.
Tampax, maybe skater boys are using your products for nosebleeds. How would you know if you didn’t read 7 Tips for Recovering your Bail with Steeze (for those non-skaters, steeze is a smoosh of “style” and “ease”)?
And check out this sweet LARP fest that you’re probably missing out on, Under Armour — look at all those sweaty layers:
Source: Armageddon 2013 on photos-albums.com
Here’s a thought — what if Amazon had a feature that would help us not be so monotonous in our purchasing decisions?
Activate (and find) trends
If you’re not into spending $7.50 at the airport newsstand for a skater magazine, use social media. Hashtags are meant to unite common interests and find trends (hence the term “trending”). TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS — it’s totally free. Blogs work, too.
Curiosity will help you create trends, not just spot them.
And great trends are curated, not spotted.
For example, Crocs and Uggs are lords of the ‘unperfection’ trend. You guys, “ugg” is Australian for ugly — how the heck did they pull that one off? Now we’ve got knockoffs of both Crocs and Uggs in every color, shape, and size. They have successfully curated a trend of the ugly shoe (and congrats Uggs on winning over the #basic crowd).
As Bhargava says, “A great trend is a unique curated observation about the accelerating present,” which can ultimately give you an edge in your marketplace (but don’t try to make “fetch” happen).
Another great way to tap into potential trends is to be insanely honest about your brand’s shortcomings. It’s worked well for companies like hotel Hans Brinker Amsterdam, whose whole brand is founded on “caring less” and providing the crappiest stay possible for their guests. And guess what? — they’re enjoying a long wait list.
By being more interesting and less #basic in your own life and your brand, you will make friends. And customers. And it might be a little odd at first, but it might really work.
Learning to relate to different people is a life skill and may get you far beyond your day job, like park bench-chillin’ and chatting with silent, old men.
Source: Pinterest.com (New Girl)
Produce better content
All of the RAM leads you to this P. Learning new audiences and making new relationships helps you tell a better story.
Use your newfound empathy to put some soul into your content and branding strategy. And we all know empathy sells — just watch an animal adoption ad with a Sarah McLachlan soundtrack.
What if it kills me?
Curiosity is a risk (don’t venture behind a dark alley if you hear growling), but as far as expanding your mind, it won’t kill you.
Uggs and pumpkin spice aside, we are all capable of new levels of interestingness.
Let’s use empathy to provide value to our customers and create trends. Let’s be good marketers.
Where have you found opposite niches to be helpful in your strategy or personal life? If you’re curious about learning more about RAMPing your brand strategy, contact Maria at email@example.com.