Inspiration: Nike ads just do it right

There’s a common theme I’ve seen this past week, and it comes at a great time. The message? If you get knocked down, get back up. Nike could not have timed their new Human Chain ad better.

They timed the launch with the Olympics, but it’s also perfect timing for the bleak state our economy is still in. Watch this video.

Now think of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been knocked down hard in the past two years. Here we sit on the edge of either recovering or going down further.

The constant talk about unemployment, the down economy, the inability of Congress to solve this or any other problem could keep us down for a while—unless we change the conversation.

The key to any recovery, even one as large as this, is to believe it can be done. If athletes can make us believe, marketers can too. We can’t just sell. We need to inspire.

The Olympics are a wonderful source of inspiration. We come together as a country, rooting for the same team. We are inspired by the athletes’ stories and performances.

Shaun White smacked his head hard in the X Games, won gold there and in the Olympics. How does he explain it? “I got back up. “ (Oprah interview 2/19)

Lindsey Vonn bruised her shin so badly she could barely walk, let alone ski. She came back and won the gold in her first event.

As marketers and creatives, who’ve suffered drastic budget cuts and staff cuts, we’ve been in our own funk. We’re so focused on selling that we forgot what motivates customers to stay with us.

Good advertising motivates you to buy a product. Great advertising inspires you for larger things. Nike gets it.

Now it’s your turn. As the song says, “Everybody gets knocked down. How quick are you gonna get up?”

It’s time—just do it.

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Marketing in a snowstorm

Snowy road after a snowplow

Be the snowplow!

After two blizzards in one week, I can’t get snow out of my brain. But maybe that’s a good thing. I mean, think of the snowstorm we all face every day.

Every day we walk through a blizzard of marketing and advertising messages—at least 5,000 messages each day. Blizzards kill visibility, making your message just another flake in the snow.

As a marketer, what are you going to do?

Think of the crowd as your neighborhood. Think of the thousands of daily ad messages out there as snow. Now, ask yourself:

Are you going to make everyone shovel? Or are you going to be the snowplow?

To be an effective marketer, act like you’re in a real snowstorm:

1.  Clear the snow from the windshield. Make it easy for your customers to see where you want them to go. Remember, they’re going to be hit with thousands of messages each day. How will you make yours stand out?

2.  Clear off the top of the car too. Ever been behind a car with six inches of snow on the top that breaks off and flies at you in icy chunks? As you take care of the lead car, don’t forget the ones behind it. There are lots of potential customers in the crowd, don’t take care of one type at the expense of others.

3.  Clear the snow from the roads. Now that your customers can see where to go, make it easy for them to get there. People don’t want to put a lot of effort into finding your product or into taking advantage of a good deal. Promote a strong promise and then deliver—beyond expectations.

So, don’t just dump a pile of messages out there and hope one sticks. Be the snowplow and clear the way for a top-notch customer experience.

Think Pink to boost your brand

Want to know how to get people talking about your business? Take a lesson from Pink. That’s right—Pennsylvania-born, tattooed wife of biker Carey Hart, no lip-synching, Grammy-winning singer Pink (a/k/a Alecia Moore).

That lesson can be summed up in three words:

Wow the crowd.

Were there better singers at the Grammys? Sure. She didn’t win a Grammy this year, but she did win the night. All of those singers—and everyone else there—left talking about Pink.

You, too, can leave the same impression on your audience. And you don’t have to train high up in the air hanging from silks. Just take these three steps:

1. Find something different you can do to stand out. Know what your competition is doing. Know what your strengths are and highlight one in a creative way.

2. Plan out your strategy so you execute well. For Pink, this meant planning and lots of practice. For you, it means do something different, but don’t do something you can’t do well. Plan every step of it, including what you will do after to follow it up.

3. Involve the crowd. Let them get a little wet. Make it entertaining. Make them laugh. Make them say “wow.” Bottom line—make them remember you…in a good way.

When competition is tough or times are tough, take a risk. Do something different, but don’t BE different. Keep it within the realm of who you are.

Be yourself to build trust. Stand out from your competition to build an audience.

And, if all else fails, hire Pink. She knows how to keep the crowd talking, and she always keeps it real.

(Sorry, I can’t post the video. The Grammys made it available only on iTunes.)

Super Bowl brand battle

(This is a special Super Bowl edition. My regular post will still come on Tuesday.)

Super Bowl ads as a whole have developed a brand of their own. When else, other than during the Super Bowl, do people tune in mainly to watch the commercials?

This year, with more than 100 ads in about 210 minutes (really), we saw the regular brands vie for top spot. Doritos, E-Trade, Coca-Cola and a bunch of car brands and beers tried hard—maybe too hard—to be the one most talked about on Monday morning.

The winner, however, was a different brand—the New Orleans Saints. The Saints solidified their winning new brand, with a lesson for organizations and marketers everywhere.

How do you turn a struggling brand around? The Saints were long-time losers. Their city was lost. This was no easy task, but success came from three things:

1. Leadership: The Saints had every reason to leave New Orleans after Katrina hit. Their stadium was destroyed, their fan base was devastated and scattered. But the NFL and the owners decided to stay. They brought in a new leader—coach Sean Payton—who used their rebuilding to give hope to a city rebuilding.

2. Commitment: Sean Payton, Drew Brees and Reggie Bush are three of many Saints who could’ve gone elsewhere, but chose to stay in a post-disaster landscape. They were committed to building a winning team and doing it together—management, team and community.

3. Community: Coaches and teammates were brand ambassadors. They believed in their team and believed in their city. Every step along the way, they talked to the crowd and involved them. They kept reminding them that the Saints were going to win and that the fans and the city would win with them.

Any organization can have the same type of turnaround with strong leadership, commitment from all team members, and community appreciation and involvement.

If you’re fired up about your brand, others will be too. Be bold and inspire.