Delivering a “professional” image in your marketing doesn’t have to translate into being conservative, safe or conventional. In fact, these are the quickest routes to getting unnoticed. I think we’re all guilty of taking ourselves way too seriously, especially in business. We forget that behind every business are people who like to laugh, have fun and be entertained. GoDaddy broke through the clutter with its first ad run during the NFL Super Bowl by flying in the face of conventional wisdom following the Janet Jackson peek-a-boob scandal. While every other advertiser decided to tone down their Super Bowl ads, GoDaddy decided to ramp their’s up with an irreverent, tongue-in-cheek take on censorship featuring a scantily clad GoDaddy girl. The timing of the ad couldn’t have been better. It single-handily launched GoDaddy into the stratosphere and helped them become the No. 1 shared hosting provider in the world (according to Tier 1 Research). Quite an accomplishment considering the ad didn’t go over well with everybody.
I think you can come across as professional in the way you execute your marketing campaigns, as oppose to having to be conservative to be seen that way. The key is not expecting to, nor wanting to please everyone. The concept of disruptive advertising is throwing conventional wisdom out the door in order to get noticed. It doesn’t mean you have to be offensive, it just means standing out from the rest and resonating with your audience in a memorable way. I took this approach when figuring out how we could quickly and simply deliver PEER 1‘s message that we guarantee 100% network uptime for our clients. On its own, the message is quite boring and nondescript. It usually appears as a text link on our site pointing towards a legally written service level agreement. Or, a bullet point lost on a piece of collateral. And yet, it’s a huge selling feature of PEER 1 and describes the company’s confidence in the stability and reliability of its Internet infrastructure. For people very familiar with the industry, the value of 100% network uptime is widely understood. But, for the increasing number of SMEs that are looking to outsource their hosting requirements, the value may not be so obvious. Knowing that most of PEER 1‘s clients are adult males, we decided to take an un-sanitized approach to a sanitized message. We introduced the PEER 1 “Green Pill” along with the tagline “100% Uptime Guarantee”. As you can see above, it bares a striking resemblance to another well-known miracle wonder known for its performance amongst our demographic. At first, there was some hesitation to go in this direction. Would it be seen as being in poor taste? Or, would it be seen as comical and memorable as intended? We decided to first test it out at a tradeshow, complete with a program advertisement and a 7-foot exhibit. The response was fantastic! The exhibit did what it was intended to do – stop people in their tracks long enough for staff to engage them. And the Pill proved to be memorable since. I was doing a speaking engagement a few months later and a gentleman came up to me and said, “Love that pill. Where can I get one?” The approach may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it allowed us to take a very ordinary selling feature, and turn it in to a fun fact that was hard to forget.
Rajan is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BIG Marketing for Small Business. He's an award-winning marketing strategist who is passionate about branding, digital marketing and social media. He spent nearly a decade as the marketing executive at global IT firm Peer 1 Hosting and was instrumental in their explosive growth.