The Ad-Free Marketing Strategy

Great marketing campaigns don't force it; they don't beg for it. Just do things that are worth talking about

Written by Kristin Laird for Marketing

The trick to spreading content across social media is to do something worth talking about, said Scott Stratten with a hint of sarcasm during his keynote presentation at The Right Angle conference in Hamilton on Tuesday.

It’s such a simple, widespread philosophy the industry hears time and again. Yet some brands continue to get it wrong or fail to see the advantages of harnessing social media.

“You don’t force it, you don’t beg for it. You do things that are worth talking about. At the end of the day we talk about what evokes emotion,” said Stratten, author and president of consultancy Un-Marketing.

“You want to share that emotion so you email it, you put it on Facebook, you tweet it,” he said.

Stratten used luxury hotel chain Ritz-Carlton and the case of the missing stuffed giraffe€“affectionately referred to as Joshie by his infant owner€“as an example of how outstanding customer service became shareable social media content.

The Hurn family returned from vacation in Florida when it was discovered that Joshie had been left behind at the hotel. Chris Hurn told his distraught son that the stuffed giraffe was on an extra long vacation.

That same night, The Ritz called to tell Hurn that Joshie had been handed over to the hotel’s Loss Prevention Team. Hurn, the CEO of Mercantile Capital Corporation, explained his white lie to hotel staff and asked them to take a picture of Joshie on a beach chair. The staff agreed.

A few days later Joshie arrived in the mail along with branded swag€“a Frisbee, football and a binder that documented his extended stay. The staff went above and beyond, including photos of Joshie at the spa, making new friends and driving a golf cart. The Ritz even made Joshie a special ID badge.

Hurn was so pleased with the treatment his family (and Joshie) had received he shared his story across multiple platforms including YouTube and Facebook.

“We share awesome when it evokes emotion, it’s amazing how many people don’t realize that sometimes,” said Stratten.

Marketing is not a task, it’s a verb, he said. Marketing is “what we do, it’s our actions, we can have the best site in the world [but if you] take three weeks to answer an email you’re insulting your work, you’re insulting the brand, the brand is only as strong as your actions.”

Read 4 Ways to Turn Your Sales Team Into Brand Boosters

One of the biggest problems in marketing overall is the way technology is used, said Stratten, a self-proclaimed tech geek who used QR codes as an example of a technology that is often poorly implemented.

“I’ve maybe seen three good executions,” he said. “I have seen QR codes on a billboard on the highway going into Toronto. Have we thought through this well enough? Motion plus distance does not equal good scanning potential.”

Stratten said he’s seen QR codes in airline magazines€“a head-scratching idea considering the limited use of cellphones during a flight€“or codes that drive users to sites that don’t work.

“We’re hurting ourselves as an industry by using QR codes that don’t work,” he said, noting 50% of people who scan a QR code said they would do so again.

“If URLs only worked half the time, you wouldn’t use the internet,” he said.

Read Don’t Be a Digital Litterbug: How to Use QR Codes and Social Media Without Annoying Consumers

Originally appeared in Marketing
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