The Creative Idea Drives Everything
Digital Marketing 101

The Creative Idea Drives Everything

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Creating content for your potential customers has changed greatly, especially in the last 10-15 years. As these changes emerge, a marketer’s perspective on how to develop content needs to change as well. The problem is that with many marketers, the ingrained “old school” ways of doing things still resonate with them and the result is lost opportunity that keeps their clients from being able to successfully scale in a way that will be meaningful to their businesses in the long term.

How It Used To Be

Before we jump into how mindset needs to change, let’s examine how things used to be. In the days of traditional media, it used to be you could create content, and even if it wasn’t very good, you could settle and say “It’s ok the creative is bad. I’ll make it work”.

Marketing used to be very linear. You knew where you were going to get eyeballs and you knew there was a standard path your potential customers would follow. For instance, they might see a commercial about you on television. After that, they’ll talk with their friends about your product or service to see if they know anyone that has done business with you in the past. Finally, they’ll decide to contact you and do business.

There were only so many ways to capture attention. As long as you were in at that first point of entry, it really didn’t matter what content you were generating, as long as you were able to get their attention and get your brand “on the radar”.

The issue with this is the marketing industry over time became lobotomized by the notion of the cheap turnkey reach. In other words, as long as you had something out there being broadcast to as many eyeballs as possible, it would all work itself out. The truth of the matter is that you simply cannot captivate people like that anymore and expect them to give you their most valuable currency (attention) anymore.

You Can’t Use “Old” In The “New”

As digital marketing continues to expand and continues to eat the lunch of traditional media, chipping away at its importance each day, the currency of attention has never come at a higher price.

Attention has become such a coveted asset in the success of your marketing for three reasons. First off, your ideal customers have more decisions than ever on how and where they are going to consume digital media. It’s no longer a predictable two or three-step process from interest to sale.

Secondly, the rise of digital marketing has lowered the barrier of entry for brands to jump in and start vying for the attention of potential customers. This means you now have more competitors than ever that are trying to pull that attention away from your brand, building their brand and therefore making your marketing efforts less effective.

Lastly, as I’ve been writing about frequently the past couple weeks, most companies are getting digital marketing strategy completely wrong. They’re using this channel much as they would have used traditional media channels 10 or 15 years ago. Today’s consumers run from this type of marketing and over time it builds a wall around them, making it harder to get them to want to part with any of their attention, even if your brand is a great one.

A Quick Example

Let’s take a second to illustrate a quick example. Our firm is based in the Silicon Valley in California. One of the worst industries I have seen at digital marketing in the past year is the Solar Energy Industry. If you do a quick search in the Facebook Ad library and a few google searches, you’ll see that there is basically one playbook that the majority of all the solar players are using:

• Hurry up before the Federal Subsidy for solar goes away
• Pay nothing out of pocket for solar with our financing plans
• Our installers are the most trusted in “area x”
• Click this button to get a bid on your solar project today

If you’ve read my prior articles or listened to my podcast on things people do to mess up their digital strategies, you can already see the problems with this. If you haven’t though, let’s break it down quickly. The problem with this strategy is that this is nothing more than a tactic to get a supposed “quick sale”, and it does little to nothing to address the true questions, pain points and needs their ideal customers actually are experiencing.

For instance, homeowners are worried about what having panels installed on their roof will do to the integrity of the roof itself. They may have a neighbor with a large tree that casts shade on their roof at certain times of day. If they are financing panels and they choose to sell their home, they have concerns that the solar financing may become a thorn in their side when it comes to a successful sale of their home to another family. Or, it may be as simple as them wanting to know what will happen if their equipment breaks. How do they get it fixed?

Not surprisingly, given the popularity of clean energy, my firm has been doing lots of work with solar companies over the past year. In working with these clients, what we’ve found is that public perception of solar installers is not good at all. The public doesn’t trust them. They feel like all these guys are after is a quick sale and will move right on after the deal is done. They feel like these guys are not the experts they purport to be and are simply in it for the money grab.

So you have a broad target audience that have generalized their feelings about an entire industry and by and large as a result is unwilling to part with any of their attention. How do you break through?

As we’ve been working with these companies in markets all across the U.S., it has been a challenge to break through this mold and convince homeowners to part with some of their precious attention and help these brands build awareness. How we do it though is just good old fashioned digital marketing best practices.

All our campaigns focus around adding value for the homeowner. The approach isn’t to simply sell the homeowner a solar system. It’s to educate them about solar. It’s creating media that answers the questions that are most important to them. It’s offering them ways to evaluate the different types of products, examine their energy consumption and at the end of the day make the determination if solar actually makes sense for them (spoiler alert: Sometimes solar isn’t right for a home and it’s not okay to trick someone into buying something that is not going to benefit them).

The results we are seeing are remarkable. Our client’s customers are supremely happy with the solution they have purchased and in practically all instances they are willing to go online and praise these companies, giving them great reviews online, touting how knowledgeable and patient the company was through the entire process and sharing photos of the finished product on their social media channels so their friends can see the work that was done.

So as you can see, nothing is linear anymore. There isn’t one path that this marketing campaign took. We launched it, the consumer decided how to opt into giving attention to it, and then they took it with them and spread it through their online pipelines, giving our client the benefit of viral brand attention.

Creativity Gives You Access To Attention

The simplest way to describe the most effective marketing campaigns these days is that the creative idea drives everything. Just look at the example above. By breaking from the norm and taking a unique approach to selling Solar Energy, we were able to help our clients not only run successful marketing campaigns but have it go viral in the process.

It doesn’t matter what channel you are starting with. If you get the idea right it will get shared across social channels and will be effective. It will go where it goes. Great creativity gives you access to attention in a broad economy that poor or boring strategy cannot ever penetrate. Good creative makes your strategy perform exponentially better.

Chris Leo

Chris Leo

Chris Leo is a Silicon Valley, CA entrepreneur, complete workaholic, top notch inbound marketer, dad to the coolest kid on the planet, type “A” personality, shameless self-promoter and never ending “connector”.

Even though he is seemingly always working, when he does take breaks, the “work hard, play hard” motto takes on a whole new meaning. Most people talk about "wanting to do things", Chris goes out and actually does them.


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