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The Cost of Being Boring

The Cost of Being Boring
written by
Director of Digital Strategy

I saw a video on TikTok.

It features best-selling author and former Director of Marketing of American Apparel, Ryan Holiday, discussing brand and advertising strategies. In the clip, Holiday audaciously theorizes how being bold directly impacts your bottom line.

He espouses, “If you are boring, you have to pay a lot of money to get your advertisements in front of a lot of people.”

So blunt.

Holiday goes on to say, “If you are interesting, provocative, or you piss people off, you get tons of attention.” And those same messages that you would normally have to pay to get in front of people, will get talked about and shared for free.

This cuts to the core of what Planit is all about: being disruptive. Yet too often, marketers fail to connect the dots between taking risks and the reward of earning free advertising.

Why does this matter now more than before?
We’re in an entirely new age of brand building and advertising. Are you noticing that you’re not getting the return on ad/marketing spend that you previously did?

What’s changed?
Privacy changes on monster platforms and pandemic-related demands.

Due to changes in privacy policies on iOS devices and the inevitable removal of “pixel” and “cookie” data on ad platforms like Facebook and Google, it’s becoming increasingly more challenging to find your customers online. And it’s only going to get worse.

In short, privacy laws have given consumers more control over the way companies can target and track them online. For the world, that’s a good thing. For your ad spend, it’s a bad thing.

Couple these changes with a surge in ad buying in our post-pandemic-reopening-world, and you get massive ad cost inflation: greater demand for ad space with weaker targeting.

In fact, Axios reports that, “The cost to advertise on Facebook is 33% higher than it was in Q3 2019 (before the pandemic), as measured by CPM, or cost per thousand impressions.”

This means your cost per acquisition is skyrocketing.

Given the escalating costs, what can you do?

Demand that your agency offer ideas on how to “not be boring.” Consider how your brand can be positioned as provocative educators or entertainers in ways that remain authentic to your brand so your customers want to follow, share, and talk about you.

If the platforms themselves can’t drive conversions like they used to…

  • Be provocative/evocative
    • Take a stand on something people care about
    • Call out competitors
    • Be brazen
    • Adopt a tone/vibe uncommon to your category
    • Blow up convention
  • Create news
    • Pay your workers more
    • Provide benefits that your competitors don’t
    • Give services away for free
    • Shift your targeting to a niche or underserved audience
    • Connect with a cause
    • Do something you’re not supposed to do in an unexpected place

Then, once you’ve cut through the noise and earned some attention, don’t let that moment slip through your fingers

  • Go above and beyond to surprise and delight these new customers
  • Modernize your customer service channels
  • Avoid “one and done” advertising; make it part of your DNA
  • Reward your most valued customers

Don’t be boring.

Be bold and get more out of your marketing budget. In Janet Balis’ article on the pandemic’s impact on marketers, Balis surmises that it’s outdated thinking to believe that you are just competing with your competitors. The reality is that you are competing with the most recent best experience your customer had.

If you invest in less boring ad campaigns and invest more in unexpected brand experiences, this will decrease your cost per acquisition and increase your customer lifetime value.

Alternatively, you can just spend a whole lot of money to force your ads in front of a lot of people.