Some of you may have heard of Captain Tom Moore.  Tom is a 100-year-old veteran in the UK who set out to walk 100 laps in his garden aiming to raise around $1,200 for coronavirus relief efforts before his birthday on April 30.

His determination to complete the challenge while using a walking frame captured the British public’s imagination and a few weeks later he had raised over $40 Million for NHS Charities Together.  He received over 140,000 cards on his 100th birthday.  An online petition calling for him to be knighted received more than a million signatures and the Queen approved.  A charity single with singer Michael Ball reached number one in the UK charts.

Some may say that all sounds far-fetched, people were just being polite, a one-off that can’t be replicated.  That’s not true.  Take Montero Lamar Hill – better known as Lil Nas X – who came from relative obscurity, landed on top of the charts with his song ‘Old Town Road’, and received numerous awards within months.  Wrangler Jeans even created a Lil Nas X collection.

What differentiates people like Tom Moore and Montero Lamar Hill?  They have a cool, creative idea and they go for it.  They are not overly concerned if people will like their idea or not.  Instead they develop an emotional connection with those people who support them and their cause.  Not with everyone but with enough people to hand them success.  And they use the power of social and digital media to reach and engage large numbers of people in a relatively short period of time.  Really good ideas may go viral.  That’s what happened here.

Of course, we can infer various things from these stories.  Let’s focus on what consumer brands can learn from Tom and Montero.  Making an emotional connection – with the public in general and your target audience in particular – is a great way to expand your brand’s reach.  By being creative and thinking outside the box hopefully, a campaign will go viral.

Luxury carmakers have mastered the art of emotional connections not just with potential new customers but existing ones too.  Many of their ads focus on making us feel good about being associated with their brands because it builds brand loyalty.  

Various alcohol brands also have succeeded in creating a favorable image with their target consumers.  According to a recent study, people who order Grey Goose Vodka at a bar do so in a 20% louder voice than people ordering other brands.  Talk about a strong emotional connection with and to the brand and the desire to let everyone else know.

Or the story of an assistant grocery store manager in Weatherford, Texas who waited over an hour to get a Shiner Beer metal sign from a tasting company rep.  Shiner Beer was her favorite beer brand and she was going to put up that sign in her living room.  This kind of emotional brand attachment can’t be bought but develops over time.

Of course, many popular brands have been around for a while and we are quite familiar with them.  The most successful ones have one thing in common: a clear and distinctive brand image, story, and message that – all combined – create the right type of emotional connection with their target audience.  The brand is on a mission.  And consumers know why they love and support the brand. 

Today’s brands have a secret weapon not available 20 or even 10 years ago:  Social and digital media with all the benefits they offer in terms of understanding and targeting the right consumers.

How did Captain Tom Moore and Lil Nas X shoot to fame in a matter of weeks and months?  The answer: Compelling brand messaging supercharged by social and digital media.  In today’s world the right creative message allows alcohol brands to directly reach millions of potential customers even on a smaller budget.

The money spent is not nearly as important as the right type of message and channel to directly reach and engage consumers with incredible precision.  In a way, think of it as the guerrilla marketing techniques that Sidney Frank was famous for, now accessible to all brands.  Or at least those who choose to utilize them.

Of course, creativity for pure creativity’s sake may not lead to success either.  If it does not eventually produce positive ROI, higher sales, and profits it is meaningless in a business environment.  Creativity has to be incorporated into a sound marketing and brand building strategy.

Who can best give brands insight into how to reach, engage, and ultimately sell more products to consumers?  Well, consumers.  At QBP, we refer to that as creative crowdsourcing.  Instead of putting creativity in the hands of a few who may or may not be as creative as one thinks why not invite the public to help and develop creative ideas?  Think of it as a focus group on steroids.

New innovation and imagination are most likely to come from outsiders who take a fresh look at things.  Celebrate the good ideas.  Don’t worry about the bad ones, tomorrow they will be forgotten.  Generally it does take a few bad ideas to get to the really good ones.  You never know where creativity might lead you.  It reminds me of a story our marketing professor at the University of Texas at Austin told us 30 years ago.

Someone approached a major consumer brand with an idea that could help them sell a lot more toothpaste.  I don’t recall the exact amount of money the person was asking for in exchange for the idea but it was not a small sum.  The brand agreed to the deal.

The suggestion was to enlarge the opening of their tubes by just a bit as it would most likely increase the amount of toothpaste consumers would use every time they brush their teeth.  While such an idea may not be looked upon favorably in today’s world back then it made sense to the executives in charge and it apparently paid off.

Inviting a diverse group of people to submit ideas can help brands in many ways.  Creativity should never be confined to just advertising but all aspects of sales growth.

If you are looking to take your social and digital media advertising, marketing, and brand building to the next level reach out to us anytime at info@qbpmail.com.