July 30th, 2012
by Dan Gold
Confession session: As WMT’s intern, I don’t have a degree in marketing. I don’t have any college degree in fact. I’m just a student who studies acting and works for Web Marketing Therapy. I never would have thought that my first internship would be working with “Wild Web Women”, my college buddies can’t claim that as a first job! So why should you be getting marketing tips from me? Because what I do know is acting, and if you think about it, acting and marketing have a lot in common. Both seek to convince the audience of something, be it “I’m sad” or “this product is useful.” Both seek to provoke a response in the audience, be it happiness, love, fear, desire, or desire to buy a product.
As an actor, here is what you need to know to be a good marketer – you need to not just set goals, but know how to set smart GOALS.
Knowing Your Goal
In acting it’s extremely important to know exactly what your character’s goal is in every scene. This helps inform all the other little things you do throughout the scene. Likewise you must know your goal in marketing. At first this seems rather obvious, “I want people to buy my product.” But let’s go back to acting for a minute.
As an actor your goal has to be specific and it has to be achievable within that particular scene. For example “make Molly fall in love with me” is a bad goal. It’s far too broad and it can’t really be measured in the other person. However, “have Molly agree to go on a date with me” is a great goal because it’s specific and doable within that scene. Now lets take it back to marketing. “Sell my product” is a bad goal. On the other hand, “Make the viewer be convinced that they need to own this product in order to be ‘cool’” is a great goal.
Why Apple’s Ads Kick Ass
Now lets look at some examples. Nowadays many advertisements are simply an amusing comedy skit with a product of some sort stuck into it. You’ve seen tons of ads like this on TV every night. This does help to get people thinking about that product, but it could do so much more. This is the kind of ad you get with a broad or poorly defined goal.
Now on the other hand, you have a company like Apple. Apple’s ad campaigns don’t just show off their products, they promote an entire lifestyle. Most notable we have the Mac vs PC ad campaign which suggests that those who use PCs are old and boring, while those who use Macs are young and hip. The goal here is something like “Make people feel that they are uncool if they don’t own our products and are very cool if they do.” It should also be noted that every little detail of everything Apple does goes towards this goal because they know exactly what it is (although they’d probably phrase it a bit differently). And boy does it work.
In acting, a good goal can be the difference between a powerful performance that touches your heart and a listless actor who reacts oddly and takes you out of the moment. In the world of marketing, a good goal can be the difference between spinning your wheels and being a huge commercial success. Here are the rules of a good acting goal.
Six Rules of a Good Acting/Marketing Goal
- It must begin and end in this scene. In other words, while you should have one overarching goal of your whole marketing plan, you should also have specific goals for each and every piece of that marketing plan (such as TV ads, email newsletter, blogs, blog posts, websites, etc). For example, if you run an ad campaign, that campaign gets its own goal that is self contained (even while serving your overall goal). The same goes for each ad within that campaign.
- It must be achievable within the scene. Each goal that you create should be achievable by that specific piece of marketing. The goal should be something you can have your audience do or feel right there and then, not some nebulous future event. Despite their tackiness, infomercials are a great example of doing this right. They gear their whole ads towards trying to get you to “CALL RIGHT NOW!!” which is a concrete objective achievable during the scene that is “viewer watching infomercial.”
- The success of the goal is measured in the other person. Your goal is never to do something. It is always to make the other person do something (or feel something). “Sell iPods” is a horrible goal. But, “Make the audience believe that they will be uncool if they don’t own an iPod” is a great goal. This goal is measured in the other person. It is also a goal that can be achieved right then and there while they’re viewing the TV ad, looking at the product, or whatever.
- Be specific. Lots of goals that would otherwise be great are simply too general. “Make the viewer want to buy my product” may seem like a great goal, but it’s way too general. If you’re having trouble figuring out a specific goal, ask yourself why people should want to buy your product. Will it make them feel sexier, should they feel uncool if they don’t buy it? Now you have a good specific goal, such as “Make the viewer think they will be sexier if they buy my product”.
- Keep it simple. In acting you usually have just one goal for any scene. All the different ways that you attempt to achieve that goal are called tactics. Don’t confuse tactics with your goal. For example, if your goal is to make the viewer think that they need a shirt from American Apparel in order to be sexy, then a tactic would be to show sexy people wearing shirts from American Apparel. Also, don’t think that extras that you add to a piece of marketing need to be part of your goal. For example, lets say I run an ad for a hybrid car. My goal for the ad is to make people think that people will like them more if they own a hybrid car. Now lets say I add my website address and a Facebook widget to the ad. That’s totally awesome and is good marketing, but I don’t need to include those extras in my goal.
- Double check your big picture. In acting, when you’re deciding what your goal for each scene is, it’s always important to consider what your character’s goal throughout the whole story is. Likewise, after you’ve come up with a new marketing idea, always take a minute to consider whether or not it serves your overall marketing goal and how it does so. Focused marketing is better marketing.
Knowing your goal is a fundamental part of any roll for an actor. Likewise, it should be a fundamental part of any marketing strategy. You may not win an Oscar, but you might just make a pile of money (or get a date).