3 Ways To Create A Magnetic Brand

Customers are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages every day. Here's how to make your brand stand out.

More than 5,000 a day.

That’s how many marketing images and messages researchers estimate the average consumer is exposed to in just one 24-hour period.

Marketing messages are coming at you everywhere you go. When you’re standing in line at the supermarket, when you’re driving down the street, when you’re watching TV and, of course, whenever you’re online, someone is always trying to sell you something. It all leads to what some have called "communication fatigue"—we’re getting bombarded by so many different messages that we increasingly end up ignoring more and more just to keep our heads from exploding.

What does this avalanche of advertising mean to your brand?

It means crafting and funding the best marketing campaign in the world may not do the trick anymore, if consumers are not interested in what you have to say. In other words, it’s not enough to stand out in a crowd—your brand also has to draw that crowd in.

That’s why I’m a firm proponent of what I call Magnetic Branding. Magnetic Branding actually causes the consumers to pursue your products and services. Rather than desperately trying to get the average person to view your marketing, you put into motion strategies that will attract them to it.

Of course, if you’re an iconic brand like Apple or Google, virtually anything you do is already pulling people towards you; everything you do is relentlessly tracked, analyzed and utilized. Most brands don’t have that kind of mystique—but there are ways to create it. Just as the best of the online posts have specific strategies designed to make them go viral, your brand can also find ways to turn everyone’s overburdened eyeballs your way. Here are three incredibly effective ones:

1. Piggyback on Popularity

When Dodge was approached by Paramount Pictures to use Will Ferrell in his fictional persona as Anchorman Ron Burgundy, you might not have blamed them for turning down the idea of having a renowned buffoon pitch their vehicles—even though Ferrell was offering to do the commercials for free if they also promoted his Anchorman sequel.

You also might have thought Dodge management would have a complete nervous breakdown when Ferrell as Burgundy went on national talk shows declaring their cars were "terrible." But the fact is, nobody takes this character seriously—but they do go out of their way to see him. The gamble paid off in a big way; Dodge sales spiked by as much as 35%. This kind of stunt is obviously a short-term brand strategy—but, if you have a quality product that’s being ignored, as Dodge had with its low-selling Durango SUV, it’s worth teaming up with someone who can make a little noise to create the kind of buzz that brings you sampling and sales.

2. Bolster Buyers’ Beliefs

The last point in the paragraph above is a crucial one—whatever you’re marketing to consumers has to have a certain level of quality in place that will make buyers interested in coming back to you for more. You can’t just make grandiose claims about your brand and then not be able to back them up. You’ll get called out on Facebook and Twitter and lose the trust of potential customers.

To create an effective belief system that sticks, you must be focused, consistent, unique, and passionate about your products—and communicate those qualities to your potential buyers.

3. Meet Compelling Needs in Compelling Ways

Female consumers are traditionally marketed to with images of beautiful women whose looks are unrealistic. And, of course, sexy supermodels are also a staple of selling anything under the sun to the guys. That fact of advertising can be intimidating to an average woman’s self-image—a fact reflected by that reported that a scant 2% of the female population would actually describe themselves as "beautiful." Based on that study (which they commissioned), the Unilever corporation realized that they had uncovered a huge marketing opportunity; they simply had to find a way to help women feel better about the way they already looked, rather than throw unattainable images of beauty at them.

The result? A worldwide campaign called "Real Beauty," launched in 2004 on behalf of their Dove product line. The campaign, which showcased real women instead of supermodels, hit a real emotional nerve and was a roaring success; sales skyrocketed by 20% in the next year. Unilever continues to find unique and impactful ways to extend the campaign to the point where, this year, it was responsible for releasing the most viral ad of all time.

The Dove campaign case study makes it clear that when you can identify and meet a huge need in your target audience, you create a powerful attraction that is the hallmark of the Magnetic Brand. One thing to be wary of is the fact that, if there’s nothing all that revolutionary or unique about your product, competitors can quickly steal your thunder by copying your marketing approach—which is exactly what happened to Dove, even though they recently and successfully resuscitated the Real Beauty campaign.

A true Magnetic Brand not only has a bulletproof marketing strategy to get buyers in the door, but also a quality-driven and distinctive product line that will keep their interest and, most importantly, cause them to become an advocate that spreads the good word about you.

[Image: Flickr user Pranav Yaddanapudi]

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