Impact advertising: The art of indirect online marketing

The key to creating good marketing content – whether it is an ad, or a blog post or a deal page – is to make it customer-centric and personal by touching upon the emotional factor. We as human beings are emotional creatures. We click well when a piece of content touches our emotions. When an online marketing copy, ad or video sells a product indirectly through references, connections and recall elements, it amounts to indirect online marketing. Common customer behaviour indicates that sales figures see a boost, when a product associates itself with a particular feeling, for example, awe, joy, panic, fear, contentment etc., rather than just speaking about its features.

A recent trend on this front has been witnessed across the World Wide Web with the release of videos and ads that play upon feelings as primary content and speak much less about the product being endorsed. A case in point for a highly effective sales strategy that uses indirect online marketing is the advertisement called Real Beauty Sketches that was released by cosmetics company Dove in April this year. This advertisement took home the Titanium Grand Prix1, which is the highest honor at the 2013 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity1. Voted as 2013’s most shared advertisement, the Dove Real Beauty Sketches touched millions of hearts and received over 4 million shares till date. The videos hardly talk about the product; but they elicit emotions that are deep. Ending with just one line, “You are more beautiful than you think”, Dove created a gigantic brand image for itself on one word – ‘Beautiful’, and effectively advertised a whole range of products without naming even one. The concept rests on depicting how we see ourselves (described in the sketches as not so well) and how others see us (described in the sketches as beautiful).

1Dove ‘Sketches’ Campaign Takes Titanium Grand Prix at Cannes

An indirect online marketing strategy in fact causes more impact than a “Hey! I have an awesome product to sell. Buy it!!” declaration.

Here’s how you can develop an indirect online marketing strategy:

  1. Identify the keywords that associate perfectly with the product/brand that you are trying to sell online.
  2. Identify the emotions that the keyword generates in its entirety, in context with the brand, and also on its own.
  3. Play on the emotions and create a context map that starts with the element of surprise and ends with the keyword and a logo.

To be able to do this, you need to ask several direct and/or subtle questions to the target audience that is going to view the marketing campaign so as to initiate favourable action on their part. These questions form an essential part of an effective content strategy and are basically aimed at piquing the curiosity of the viewer, creating a compulsion to ‘know more’, and compelling the viewer to perform the subsequent action as desired by us.

  • Identify your target audience’s need. Ask them about the need.
  • Identify what will benefit them. Ask them how they would feel if the need is fulfilled.
  • Identify what emotion is perfect for selling your product. For example, a home cleaning solution advertisement played on the emotion of fear of germs and disease, enacted by a mother who has a crawling baby at home. Another telecom company came out with a 4 minute song, with jingles and catch line, that exploits the need of friends to be in constant touch with each other – so keep talking. This song caught on so much that it became an anthem for friendship.
  • Offer something “extra”. I wouldn’t call it a freebie. Today’s customer is informed. But it’s good practice to offer a little value over and above the product you are selling. For example, if you are a Broadband service provider and your website and social pages are trying to sell various Internet plans, you can offer a no-charge plan upgrade for two weeks or increase the Fair Usage Policy limit as a surprise. Customers love being surprised with such offerings and tend to spread the word, bringing in more enquiries and leads.

Thus, by understanding what need your product is fulfilling and what gratification the audience will truly enjoy, create hitting content that subtly puts forth a curiosity and leads your customer to think, “Why shouldn’t I try this once?”

 

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If you have 'walked with me into the woods', a blog post at a time, do tell me how you felt in the comments section below :)

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