When I’m in the mood to buy a product or service, and it’s a significant purchase, I’m going to visit a website and/or visit a store.
If I get to a store and the sales assistants are generally bored and disinterested, I’m walking out. If I visit a website and I get zero information about the people behind the company, product, or service, I’m ‘clicking away’ and taking my business elsewhere.
In your business, anonymity may be perfect. But for most businesses, online or off, a healthy dose of personality can improve engagement and sales.
Personality, as you’ll discover, is more than a branding exercise. In my world, direct response, it’s an important way to provide proof the product delivers on its promises.
So in this article, I’m going to provide examples of marketing with personality—in advertising, branding and direct response. Then give you some inexpensive ways to ramp up your “personality” marketing.
The Most Interesting Man in the World (Apart from Me)
If you’ve read my posts for the Crazy Egg blog, you know I’m a direct response copywriter. I’m not a branding copywriter. I actually sell products and services and my clients measure my results. I’m accountable.
However, I tip my hat to the copywriters who created the Dos Equis campaign built around “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” If you haven’t met the man…
We never learn his name but, in the Dos Equis ads, we meet The Most Interesting Man in the World and his campy adventures.
He plays cricket. He invents the cell phone. He jumps out of airplanes. He paint watercolors. He gets the girl(s).
According to an article in Creativity Online, sales of Dos Equis increased 15.4% in the U.S. in 2012 compared to a 2.7% average growth for the top 10 imports (figures from Beer Marketer’s Insights).
The brand attributes the jump to the ads. From the article…
“What Dos Equis was looking for was a lead actor for a campaign that would break the beer-advertising mold. While so many spots featured fancy cars, hot babes, or exotic locations, the Dos Equis team discovered that “more than anything else, [drinkers] really wanted to be seen as interesting by their friends,” said Senior Brand Director Paul Smailes.
In other words, the ads bring personality to the brand, the beer, and the person drinking the beer.
Who would have thought a former boxer could sell a workaday grill? That’s what happened with The George Foreman Grill, which helped Foreman become a multi-millionaire.
At its core, The George Foreman Grill is just that—a grill. You cook food on it and it’s in the same family as a stove, a frying pan, and a salad bowl. Yet, with the help of an excellent pitchman, the grill was a bestseller.
Once, during a meeting with a direct response company, I discovered the amount a company paid to buy out George Foreman (the number included a lot of zeros). And that was 15 years ago.
One client recently hired a celebrity doctor to help them sell more of their products; the client is in the natural health market. I’m sure the company is testing copy with and without the celebrity MD.
I’m certain you’ve seen celebrities endorse every product from golf clubs to cars. And every celebrity of any note seems to get a gig… here’s Rodney Dangerfield endorsing pens… or is it crabs?
And here’s Woody Allen hawking Vodka.
(If you want to see more vintage celebrity ads, go here.)
Move forward a few decades and here’s Tiger Woods endorsing a watch brand.
It’s not exactly the world’s greatest headline but who cares? Tiger Woods thinks the watch is brilliant.
But let’s get down to business. How does a celebrity endorsement affect sales and what’s the ROI?
In the case of George Foreman, it worked with over 100 million units sold; Foreman earned $200 million in royalties, according to Businessweek. That’s a champion result.
But what about the Rodney Dangerfield endorsement? No data exists. And there’s no clear evidence a celebrity endorsement guarantees a corresponding increase in revenue.
In fact, a study by Ace Metrix concludes:
“Our study of more than 2,600 ads found that—contrary to popular wisdom—celebrity ads do not perform any better than non-celebrity ads, and in some cases they perform much worse.”
As an avid fan of several sports, I have my heroes. I have players and teams I despise more than shopping for ink cartridges.
This may sound crazy (it is) but an airline recently hooked up with a team I hate. The airline’s magazine trumpets the affiliation as a truly magnificent partnership. I’m going to avoid that airline.
And there’s another problem. What happens when the celebrity runs into trouble? Suddenly, your brand and your image take an (expensive) beating.
Now you understand why I chose the Tiger Woods example.
The Imaginary Hero
You’ve heard of Betty Crocker, Tony the Tiger, and Uncle Ben. Agencies created these imaginary people out of thin air to give boring products like cake mix, cereal, and rice a little bit of personality.
Walk down the aisles of your supermarket and you’ll meet a gaggle of brand icons—all completely fabricated. And you’ll see another gaggle in other markets. Who would have thought cave men and lizards could sell car insurance?
David Ogilvy’s agency famously created The Man in the Hathaway Shirt—a distinctive gentleman with an eye patch.
We don’t know his name but the dude lends a certain personality to what is, ultimately, a mid-priced shirt that might look otherwise pedestrian.
(Now I look closely at this ad, I wonder where the guys who created The Most Interesting Man in the World got their ideas?)
The Rock Star CEO/Owner
According to Yahoo Finance, the average tenure of a Fortune 500 CEO is 4.6 years. Is that long enough for the CEO to become the spokesperson for the company on a long-term basis?
For an executive like Charles Schwab, a personal endorsement of his own company can be effective. Some CEOs are best suited to the boardroom, not the company’s advertising.
For decades, advertisers have used real customers to provide personality in the form of testimonials. In the world of direct response, testimonials are essential because they provide proof the product or service works.
In branding advertising and direct response, you’ll find ample examples of entire campaigns built around testimonials. You can use testimonials when you don’t want to use a spokesmodel, CEO, celebrity, or guru.
“Me to You”
You’ll find this most commonly in long-form direct response copywriting where the copy speaks directly from someone at the company to the reader—the prospective buyer.
Immediately next to the headline, you’ll see the photograph of the person who is making the pitch.
Just above the headline, you’ll see a pre-head reading, “from the desk of Myron P. Goodlove” or something similar. And then in the body copy, you’ll read “I’m Myron P. Goodlove and for the last 20 years, I’ve helped 50 adults a week eliminate bad breath.”
Now you’ve seen some examples of personality in advertising, let me give you 12 easy ways to give your marketing or advertising personality—without finding the Most Interesting Man in the World, hiring George Foreman, or risking hiring a celebrity who might end up in a compromising position in a tabloid.
Here they are…
12 Ways to Inject Your Marketing with Personality
- On your home page, make it abundantly clear that real people run your company.
- On your about page, provide plenty of content about the key people in the business. And on your FAQ page, answer the question, “who runs this outfit?”
- In B2C and B2B, include case studies.
- Start a blog written by real people affiliated with the company.
- Build and maintain a consistent and entertaining social media presence but don’t count on social media to be your only marketing weapon.
- Use video… and podcasts.
- Write the copy so it’s friendly without resorting to slang. End corporate-speak immediately.
- Many copywriters believe the magic word is “free.” I believe it’s “you” as in “you” the person who is going to buy something. Whenever possible, use it.
- Include high-quality photos of key people—in a friendly setting.
- When you’re assessing copy, ask yourself, “Does this sound like one human being having a conversation with another human being?” If the copy sounds like a dirge, a lecture, or a textbook, then start again.
- Remember the emotions that drive people to take action: greed, fear, lust, vanity, and losing 20 pounds in 2 weeks.
- Be empathetic, honest, and admit you’re human. Somewhere in your copy or on your website, acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers or you don’t have an “instant” cure for lifelong halitosis, or the product isn’t for everyone.
Yes, many people buy products and invest in services because they have a problem and they need a solution. But even then, people ultimately buy from people.
Bring your copy and marketing to life by giving it as much personality as possible and you can improve your revenue.