Why Marketers Should Force a Midlife Crisis on Their Brands
To know marketing is to know life.
Brands are the personification of the companies behind them. And the same issues that face us mere mortals must be confronted by the marketers behind the faux corporate persons we call the brand.
Take the midlife crisis, when we face our mortality and wonder about our place in this universe during our journey through it. Your brand won’t naturally face a midlife crisis of course, but maybe you should force one on it so you don’t end up with a "Why Bother Brand."
See Your Brand Anew
You might consider the midlife crisis a very real phenomenon or simply a convenient plot device. Doesn’t matter. You don’t have to believe in the midlife crisis to learn its lesson.
The midlife crisis is a chance to raise your head up from the daily burden of life (get the sprinklers fixed, take the kids to soccer practice, find the cord that’s missing from the scanner…) and your daily marketing grind (cleanse the database, audit the ad spend, find a new direct mail vendor…) to ask what it’s all about.
And here’s the kicker: When you get the right answer for your brand, it can make everything you do in your daily grind more effective.
That One Thing
Well then…what is it all about?
I like the answer from the movie “City Slickers.” Billy Crystal’s character Mitch is facing a midlife crisis, and he goes out West on a cattle drive to try to make meaning of life. The grizzled old cowboy Curly, played by Jack Palance, providers the answer.
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don't mean [expletive deleted].
Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”
Curly: [smiles] That's what *you* have to find out.
In marketing, that “one thing” you have to figure out is the brand’s value proposition. It gives the brand purpose and direction and serves as the guiding light for all of your marketing. When you really dig up that nugget of gold, it gives you a reason to market the brand and your customers a reason to buy it.
No longer do you have a Why Bother Brand – as in, why should customers even bother with it instead of every other similar brand? Now you have something unique, something of value, something that helps people truly understand the benefit of being your customer.
Even if you don’t control the overall brand, you can take the same approach with whatever is within your locus of control. A campaign. A single piece of collateral. Your career.
Here are some examples to spark your thinking on the journey for your brand’s one thing.
- By conducting workshops with parents and faculty, the private Balmoral Hall School discovered that parents cared more about who their daughters would become, not just what jobs they would get. They changed the marketing campaign, and the following September, the school started the year with the maximum number of students enrolled. It was the first time that had happened in over a decade. You can read how they did it in 6 Mini Marketing Case Studies of Effective Copywriting.
- TentCraft had found its one thing. It sold custom tents to event producers for concerts. When COVID-19 shut down the concert industry, the company had to expand what its one thing was. The team saw that hospitals and healthcare systems had the same basic need, especially when it came to outdoor COVID-19 testing sites. The company is now 12% ahead of last year’s revenue pace, even during a pandemic with the previously core revenue essentially shut off. Read how they penetrated a new market in Data-Driven Marketing: 7 examples of using data as a force for the good.
- C-SPAN may seem a little vanilla compared to other cable news networks, but while going through a rebranding for its 40th anniversary, it didn’t try to mimic the competition. Didn’t try to change to include snazzy graphics flying around or enraged commentators. The network embraced its one thing and launched the rebranding around “Your Unfiltered View of Government” which helped increase engagement and followers on social media. You can learn more about C-SPAN’s story in Mini Marketing Case Studies: 8 lessons for effective branding.
Life is confusing. Marketing is complex. And you are likely knee deep in the day-to-day grind right as you read this.
But take this article as your battle cry. Look up from the spreadsheets and analytics platforms. Force a midlife crisis on your brand, your campaigns, your marketing collateral, even your own career.
Because finding that one thing that ties into the essential value of your brand – and communicating it well – can make everything else you do worthwhile.
Get your free marketing strategy and value proposition bundle to optimize your value proposition and brand messaging.
Daniel Burstein is the Senior Director, Content and Marketing at MECLABS Institute. Daniel oversees all content and marketing coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the marketing direction for MECLABS — digging for actionable discoveries while serving as an advocate for the audience.