Dr Dan Herman, Competitive Strategy, Innovation, Marketing, Branding

Marketing Reinvented - Electrifying is the new Satisfying!  

If you’re trying to segment your market in the traditional way, what you may be looking for would be groups of consumers sorted out in such a way that a certain likeness exists within each group, and a difference exists between them. The variable determining the meaningful likeness or difference between those groups would be the segmentation variable. A trivial segmentation variable, just for the sake of demonstration, would be hair color. However, after having segmented the customers into groups, it is reasonable to assume that you would expect to do something with it.

We live in the post customer loyalty era and… guess what? Customers simply do not want to be loyal any more.  Forsaking all other options – is no longer an option. So yes, it is important to keep them satisfied (otherwise they will be gone in a split second) but do not expect them to be loyal.

So, what do you do?  Get an alternative thinking cap.  Electrifying Marketing is the new marketing philosophy I want to offer you. Its roots stem from the realization that marketing today is no longer about satisfying unsatisfied needs. More often than not, it is about re-satisfying already satisfied needs – with better, more exciting solutions. The major idea is that you are not here to "please" anyone, but rather to tap on your target consumers' needs in a new and surprising way which is geared to eventually become their future desires, while gaining a competitive advantage as a result.  

The next question you will probably ask is – how?  Following you will find an outline of the ten central principles of Electrifying Marketing, that constitute different ways to implement this new marketing approach.  


1. Do Not Mess with Quality 

First and foremost, you need a high quality product and service. Nothing in the world will change this necessity. No marketing or branding “hocus pocus” will cover for a poor product.

2. The Name of the Game is … Escapism

Create a differentiated benefit that takes your consumers beyond the borders and boundaries of their normal lives into a bigger-than-life existence, a world of fantasy, magic, and delirium. It isn’t a coincidence that two of the most successful literary works of the past few years were the Harry Potter books and the Da Vinci Code. 


3. Deliver a Shiver 

Deliver a strong sensual or emotional experience for your consumers, which will tap powerfully into one or more of their senses, or will evoke a strong emotional response, such as fear, thrill, excitement, ecstasy, surprise, or any other powerful emotion.  

A wonderful example is the "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down" S&M and bondage party that hurled a tsunami of press for Casio’s then-new G-Shock watch, promising it a must-have status in the influential fashion community of Manhattan. The New York Post awarded Casio the Marketer Chutzpah of the Year Award for its audacity, and evidently this shiver has managed to deliver 75 million media impressions for the brand, all released during the first six months of its existence. 


4. Brake, Shake and Shatter  

Display a rule-shattering, convention-breaking, routine-shaking, marketing-competitive behavior. There are several ways of doing this. You can be any of the following: 

  • Expectation rockers – surprising 
  • Provocative 
  • Rebellious, subversive 
  • Mad, wacky 
  • Unreasonable, crazy 

For example, the AxeFantasy promotional campaign in the UAE used specially tailored jeans miniskirts to dress up mouse pads completely, in such a way that in order to use the mouse, the user had to put his hand up the skirt from its underside, simulating their wildest and sexiest dreams. Then they placed this "creation" in Internet cafes.  Not only did the effort drive an unprecedented number of unique visitors to AxeFantasy's website, generating hundreds of thousands of page views during the first month of this campaign, but also, it seems that most of the mouse pads were stolen from the cafes.   


5. Keep a Secret 

Use a secretive or mysterious element such as a secret formula, mystery people, something that nobody knows how it’s done… or reveal a secret.   

Coca-Cola's secret recipe is the classic.   

More recently, "The Secret" constitutes a great example.  This book/movie/phenomenon was so successful because it claims to have revealed an ancient forgotten secret to achieving limitless wealth and success, now outed to the whole public.   

6. Play Hard to Get

Put deliberate and challenging limitations on availability or accessibility of your product: 

  • A limited number: the “now-or-never” factor (Zara) 
  • A limited time, for example a special summer edition, or event-tied (Olympics products). 
  • The “don't-call-us-we'll-call-you” approach. Some brands never give out their contact information.  If you want to talk to them you must first surrender your own! (The Centurion unlimited credit card by Amex) .

7. Engage them in some activity

Trigger brand oriented involvement.  Get your consumers actively involved in some kind of activity, so that before they realize it they'll be engaged in some game or type of interactive cooperation, dangling willingly on one of your "consumer fishing hooks".  

Take for example Rethink Breast Cancer, the Canadian charity which came up with a new "Booby Wall" campaign, to raise breast cancer awareness.  

Women can enter the Booby Booth website, perform a self-exam and take a faceless photo of their breasts to post in the site, along with comments or dedications to accompany their contribution to the Booby Wall. 


8. Play and Have Fun 

Playfully incorporate elements of fun and entertainment. When you do so, do not take yourself too seriously, do not be heavy, and remember that, hey, this is only marketing after all. 

I love the Burger King candid camera campaign, which caught authentic surprised and shocked reactions from people, when informed upon ordering that the Whooper was no longer being served.  Finally, the King himself comes to the rescue with the desired whooper and everyone shares a laugh. 


9. Be Delightfully Devious

Play around with your consumers – mislead them in some positive way (funny and inoffensive), manipulate them, play a joke on them, do something which appears to be one thing at first, but turns out to be something else. 

For example, a billboard in LA and New York has gained a lot of attention and buzz recently. The billboard reads: ‘Hi Steven, Do I have your attention now? I know all about her, you dirty, sneaky, immoral, unfaithful, poorly-endowed slimeball. Everything’s caught on tape. Your (soon-to-be-ex). P.S. I paid for this billboard from OUR joint bank account.’  

This billboard is actually part of a mystery ad campaign for a new cable TV show, and it's delightfully playing with our naiveté – and fully catching our attention.


10. Give them Something to Talk About

Use a "viral" element: a Cool, a Twist or a Wow!, giving your consumers conversation openers, scripts and lingos – starring your brand.

For example I would like to refer you to the new gun shaped fried-egg molds from Urban Trend. Although in this particular case there might be a hidden cholesterol joke, it seems that gun shaped objects are the new "now" – and a great conversation booster.  


Your third question, I'm guessing, will be – When?  My answer is – definitely now.  Satisfying marketing is no longer a charged enough course of action to bring you the results you need in order to gain market leadership. From now on don't satisfy your customers – electrify them – results will follow! 

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