Are You a Racehorse? Or a Donkey?

Racehorse. Donkey. Zebra. Which do you notice first? Photo courtesy of Eric Stevens.
A Racehorse. A Donkey. A Zebra. Which one do you notice first?
Photo courtesy of Eric Stevens.

Why be a thoroughbred galloper or a slowpoke donkey?

As a marketer in a rush for success, why trouble yourself with ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ when there’s ‘smarter’?

After all, isn’t it easier to win with differentiation?

A zebra wins merely by standing still because it stands out from the rest. It’s different.

Just like a strong idea.

That’s an idea you can’t put into a box. Thinking that isn’t like efforts that were hackneyed in 2012; solutions that are the opposite of scattered energy.

A retail marketing director we met says questioning good ideas regularly leads to something better, something that makes it easier for you to compete.

Of course, if we didn’t have competition, life would be much easier.

You wouldn’t have to kill yourself finding points of difference and we could all go home at 5PM.

In the real world fresh thinking works to give your customers and prospects the feeling you’re the right choice. It works to create the moment someone buys.

But you already know that, right?

Still, this carries more truth if you can take what’s familiar about your brand and turn it into something new.

Frito-Lay does that.

They know people feel guilty about things they eat.

So they’ve turned to using more natural ingredients.

Maybe that’s why Lay’s Potato Chips have a better ‘real vinegar’ taste than ______________________. (I did my taste test, now do your own and fill in the blank).

Plan B One-Step is another ‘stand apart’ product as it’s the first over-the-counter emergency contraceptive.

Here’s the Website headline that drives that home: The #1 OB/GYN Recommended Brand Has Moved To the Aisle.

Add to that a picture of a young woman and her 5-word response to the aisle position: ‘Right Where I Want It.’

It’s less advertising and more messaging with news value.

Next … a decades-old moneymaker.

We’re talking about the Monty Python reunion shows in London. The public craves the Flying Circus stand apart humor.

How do we know that? The first show sold out in 40 seconds.

Best of all is the approach of Volvo Trucks.

The Jean-Claude Van Damme ‘Split’ commercial stands out, not just in its category but among all commercials.

It’s engaging even if you have no interest in trucks.

Here’s the link if you haven’t seen it:

Van Damme’s V/O tells us about ‘a body crafted to perfection’.

Not his ripped physique, but the truck’s.

We get this message as he rides smoothly down the road, doing a split between two trucks.

Judging by a lot of unremarkable work in this category, too many industry professionals think the only tactics for sales are limited to the usual features of a truck.

But who says it has to be that way?

The Volvo marketing director who approved the Van Damme commercial knows one thing.

A zebra will catch your eye faster than a racehorse.

Content without strong ideas. It’s a bit like taking a photo with your smart phone and discovering your finger was over the flash. You get a result, but maybe not the best result. Share your comments about the power of ideas with us. Thanks, Steve Ulin


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.