It’s Alive! Piecing Together a Scary-Good Marketing Strategy

October 24th, 2019
Saxton Horne

When we think about all the pieces of a great marketing strategy — big data and analytics, brand and reputation, leads and presence — the pressure of stitching together the perfect experience can feel monstrous.

If we take off the makeup and masks, the truth isn’t too spooky: people crave personal experiences. People want stories they can connect with. Your brand is your story. Your brand will come alive to customers if your story hooks them, sticks with them, means something to them, and becomes part of their lives.

Here are five tips inspired by familiar scary stories to help spark your marketing strategy and bring your own brand story to life.

The hook of a great story holds tight from the first page with an engaging voice, relatable characters, and a worthy aim or obstacle to overcome. Your brand needs to immediately grab what your audience cares about and relates to so they don’t get away. Your message needs to connect by solving their problem, meeting their need, and gripping what they care about.

Some brands have actually convinced their followers to buy literally nothing from them. The rock band Kiss sells air guitar strings. Cards Against Humanity has anti-sales and once even sold literal bull feces in a box. Why does this work? It won’t matter if it’s a trick or a treat: a hooked customer won’t miss the chance to be part of a story that grasps what they want and need.

And that grasp comes to you through data. Everyone has wants, needs, and problems, and utilizing data mining and pattern analysis will show you how to be present where they are, top of mind wherever they go, practically haunting their day-to-day routine. You need to be the voice inside the walls.

The options are almost endless for consumers to choose from. So why will they choose you? Because you’re the voice they’re familiar with, the brand they trust. You stand out because they can tell you want to take part in their story, and they want to be part of yours.

The best way to be the one who stands out, who rises above and comes first to mind, is by becoming a legend. Is it easier said than done? Well, maybe not. A legend causes a disruption. Breaking or abandoning the mold gets people to pay attention. Lose the head, mount the horse, and charge.

When your story is legendary, people come see it for themselves. A word-of-mouth legend carries strongest through strategies like innovative direct mail, interactive gamification, test-drives and samples — by engaging your audience, you immerse them in the legend. When you give them an unforgettable experience, you’ve become a desirable destination that consumers will visit again and again.

Some strategies aim to put ourselves in our customer’s place. We want to know what makes them tick or turn away. What we glean from data reveals behavior and trends, but it can miss the mark on what truly drives a body, what steers their motivations deep down. Is it freaky to think that the best way to get a consumer to act and transact might be to let them switch into our place?

No, don’t bring a new CEO in with your coffee order, but do bring the consumer in through collaboration. If the best way to learn is by teaching, take that to the next level by tracking how your customers steer your messaging. How would they retell your story to their friends? That could be the quickest way of knowing if your messaging hit the bull’s-eye or thudded into the wall off to the left. Collaborate with your customer by curating detailed briefs that explore diverse possibilities, then test in control groups and be flexible to let ideas take on the life they were meant to live.

With the rise of the 5G network, possibilities and advancements that we may not yet comprehend are approaching fast. Don’t be a ghost left behind in the graveyard. Keep your strategies alive with up-to-date technology and security, hardware, software, cloud services, and talent. Invest in yourself so you can invest in your customers.

Take inventory of what’s working, change what isn’t, and stay open to how it all might change. Be the visionary who sees the living and the dead — who knows when it’s best to let tired ideas move on into the light, and when it’s right to fight for the life of a new story.

The year 2020 (boo!) is just around the bend. While many proven strategies will deliver the results that you budget for, keep your brand aware of the strengths as well as the vulnerabilities of a living, breathing market. Make sure your story becomes legendary — no horror cliffhanger twist necessary.

[1] The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving, 1820.

[2] Freaky Friday, 2003.

[3] Sixth Sense, 1999.