How the opposite of a good marketing strategy can be a great one.
Marketing is 20 million years old
Signaling is often necessary when it comes to advertising and marketing. In many cases you see this even in nature. For 20 million years flowers have been trying to convince bees that they are worth the investigation in their search for harvesting nectar. Their strategy is simple, that you actually have to advertise yourself. The extent to which the flower spends “money” or energy on their pedals is proof of the confidence it has in the long term value of what it actually has to offer. A bee sees one flower with dull and small pedals next to another of the same species with big voluptuous pedals. Obviously they will offer similar (if not identical) qualities of nectar, but to the bee this is not true.
Why spend the extra “money,” or energy, on pedals when you could just use that money to make a superior product or nectar? It’s to design a certain message to the bee. Now the bee’s attention has been hijacked by the latter and has used this type of marketing strategy as a heuristic for knowing who to trust and which flower to investigate for nectar. Then, in a mutually symbiotic relationship, ends up benefiting both parties.
At first glance you may think that being frugal with your valuable resources (like finances and coming under on a fixed budget) is a good idea, and technically it is. You’ve saved some money. But the opposite of that, which would be to go over your budget and spend extra money on signaling and optimizing your product, can end up being a great idea and a much more effective marketing strategy.
This isn’t a math test
In school while you were taking a math test you either got the right answer, or you got the wrong answer. For example, if the answer to the question was 3.7 then anything that you wrote down that wasn’t 3.7 was wrong. In marketing this isn’t true
The rules of the game in marketing aren’t constant. Take SEO optimization or Email marketing for example. Google is constantly updating its algorithm on its search engine changing the way websites and articles are ranked on the front page. Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and other email providers are adding new ways to mark emails (especially those tied to marketing) as spam. By being average and playing by the rules we miss out on becoming an innovator. Whether you position yourself as a high end product and you make your offer vastly different than the rest, or you position yourself as a low end product and offer your product at an absolute bargain, both of these circumstances offer an endorphin rush to the consumer. Being average does not.
By changing the context of the content, you can change what ‘good’ means. Red Bull is a great example of this. It’s the complete opposite product of Coke. Coke tastes sweet, Red Bull tastes gross and bitter (it’s specifically designed for this). Coke comes in a 12oz can, Red Bull first came out with only an 8oz an. Coke is extremely cheap while Red Bull only gets more and more expensive. But if you actually make being bad tasting and too expensive and not enough to quench your thirst as part of your proposition then people expect that very thing and it ends up being good. Human behavior isn’t driven by objective reality. It’s driven by meaning and context.
If there were a logical answer, you would’ve found it already
If you’re in a well established industry, then most of the problems you come across are the remaining ones that tend to be immune to logical answers. In an age where so many bright minds are constantly connected and working on the same problems, if there were an answer that could be found with logical reasoning then it already has been. This is where a marketing job, internship, or agency gets to be creative.
Problems that tend to persist within these worlds can only be solved by illogical and irrational thinking. They can’t be solved intuitively. You need to dip your toes and test the waters of counterintuitive solutions because nobody else in your industry will. A brand awareness strategy, or an SEO specialist, or a marketing email needs to innovate in order to stay on the edges of the spectrum. These edges are what give you the edge and make a significant impact on your audience.