Here's a viral-by-mistake marketing story you gotta love.
This summer alt pop band OK Go were getting ready for a tour to promote their second album.
So, there they were in a Chicago-area backyard practicing a dance routine to go with one of their songs, 'A Million Ways.' The problem with practicing a dance routine in a backyard (as opposed to, say, in a dance studio) is there are no mirrors, so you can't see how you look.
Which is why the guys decided to tape the thing on a video camera set up on a tripod. They did their three-minute routine a few times and then checked the video.
One of their girlfriends thought the video looked so fun that she begged them to release it as their official video instead of the "real" video they were planning to do with a professional director. The band laughed at her. Thereupon, she posted the video online and emailed a couple of friends to get a second opinion.
Two point five million downloads later, the boys found themselves invited to perform the dance live on Good Morning America and The Tonight Show.
They've also begun receiving emails from fans with links to homemade videos of other groups of men performing the dance. (Apparently it's a big hit at weddings.)
Since reality hits a note with the fans, now the band have continued by launching a written plus audio blog (aka podcast) of their tour that's pretty darn fun, too.
The lesson here -- keep it real. That doesn't mean handheld imperfect-on-purpose videocam shots we all got used to in "cool" ads in the late 90s. It means be really genuine as opposed to faux genuine.
This, however, can be incredibly difficult when you're a marketer on a schedule with a campaign to get out (or approve.) "OK from 10 a.m.-11a.m. I have to write heartfelt copy. Then from 11-12 we'll do a heartfelt design session." Yeah, right.
You wind up getting slick, and your enthusiasm for whatever you're marketing becomes strained, improbable. Which is when language like "The Leader" and "Solution" creep in as exclamation marks meant to gloss over our lack of connection with either the product and/or the marketplace. I don't have a solution for that, beyond take a deep breath, take a walk over to the service department, and shoot the breeze with a customer or two to get back in touch with their needs. Your campaign has to serve the customer directly, not just your deadline.
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