Consumers today have more power to customize their media than ever. With ad-free streaming services and ad-blocking internet browser extensions, people don’t have to consume any messages they don’t want to. Even social media ads are easy to swipe past, and most youtube ads can be skipped after 5 seconds. That is why marketers today have to think of themselves as entertainers. Long gone are the days when consumers were forced to view tv ads while waiting for their show to come back on, forced to listen to ads between songs on the radio, or forced to have marketing materials filling all the white space on any webpage they view. These days, if you want your message to land, your marketing campaigns must be something entertaining.
As marketers we sometimes get so focused on our offering that we spend the entire time crafting our messaging thinking about what our message is and what’s great about our offering and our company. But it’s important to take a step back from your goals and think about what will make people willing to hear your message in the first place? What are their goals? This is where the entertainment factor comes in.
What's already hot?
One effective way to do this is to find things in pop culture that people are already excited and talking about. Why reinvent the wheel? People are already being entertained all the time, so why not find a way to include your brand in that? For example, as the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones was airing, it was all everyone and their grandma were talking about. Oreo took this opportunity to bring some attention to milk’s favorite cookie. In a partnership with the popular franchise, Oreo created limited edition Oreo cookies printed with the house crests of the characters in the show. To promote both the final season of the show and the limited edition snack, Oreo re-created the show’s famous intro, completely out of oreos.
Old tactics in new channels
Along these same lines, product placement or celebrity endorsement in TV have been popular ways to incorporate marketing into entertainment as long as TV has existed, but as new forms of media emerge, so do new marketing channels. One increasingly popular channel today is podcasts. In 2019, 70% of Americans were familiar with what a podcast is, up 25% in the last 10 years. 51% or roughly 144 Million Americans ages 12+ have listened to a podcast. Podcasts present an amazing opportunity for marketers, as many cover very specific or niche topics that will allow for highly targeted and tailored marketing materials. Many companies are producing branded podcasts as a way to connect with their audience about a shared interest or hobby. One of the most successful is Slack’s podcast, the Slack Variety Pack, which features stories about work culture, team work, and innovation in the workplace. By creating an entertaining podcast tangentially related to their work, Slack is able to promote their brand to a captive audience. Partnering with popular podcasters is an easy way to get your message out to an audience you know is interested, from a familiar voice they already know and trust.
Creating Your Own Entertainment
Partnering with other popular media content is one way to do it, but perhaps you want to create some entertainment of your own. Creating entertaining marketing materials are a great way to get some attention and create brand awareness. Overly highlighting one product or offering is hard to do without coming off as a boring advertisement, but by promoting your overall brand through entertainment, you are pushing consumers one step closer to a purchase. One famous example of this are Geico’s TV commercials. Skits involving cavemen, Pinocchio, and the famous “huuuump dayyy” camel outwardly have nothing to do with insurance, but have you ever forgotten that 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance? To bring this strategy into 2020, you can create entertainment not only with TV ads, but also with newer forms of media like podcasts or even using VR and AR to create interactive experiences in stores, or on your website or app.
"Give 'em the ol' Razzle Dazzle"
No matter what channel you are using, the key to marketing entertainment is to create something that people enjoy so that you can hold their attention. Entertainment is for the consumer and not the creator. As soon as consumers start to feel your marketing is self-serving or a blatant cash grab, they will tune out. By creating something enjoyable that creates an emotional reaction, you get consumers to associate those positive feelings with your brand, and when it comes time to make a purchase, they’ll already know who they want to turn to.