Make your tools more valuable. Develop them into persuasive campaigns.

We have already established that a much better term for a marketing idea is a persuasive campaign. And we have shown that persuasive campaigns contain three ingredients:

  1. A name or a handle that gives the campaign a sense of cohesiveness.
  2. The right marketing communication tools to reach and engage the campaign's target consumer.
  3. A persuasive message.

Recently, I was reminded that when it comes to persuasive campaigns, it's important to know when you have one, and just as important to know when you don't.

It happened during a conversation with a successful sales leader of a television station.

When the topic of ideas came up, as it usually does when I'm in the room, he said, "We come up with ideas all the time."

"As a matter of fact," he added, "we are known for our ideas." 

That certainly got my attention, so I asked him to tell me about some of the ideas that he and his team had developed for their clients.

As he began to list them, I realized that he was using “idea” to describe his media products: his broadcast and digital tools.

Like so many managers who try to give their sales people concrete things to sell, he bundles a number of his media tools – in some cases, in inventive ways – and then his team goes out to the market in search of clients who will buy them.

I imagined a conversation between one of his sales people and a client. "I want to come see you. We have a new idea that I want to show you." When the sales person arrives, the new idea turns out to be a  generic package containing a variety of tools with an attractive price.

Let me be clear: I certainly have no issue with bundling products and making it easy for clients to buy them. I get that you have to monetize your tools.

The irony is that while you packaged your tools together to make them easy to sell, you actually left money on the table by not developing them into persuasive campaigns.

Let’s deconstruct Apple’s "Shot On iPhone” campaign to illustrate this point.

The Title

The campaign was originally called “World Gallery,” but it has come to be known as “Shot on iPhone,” which is a much better title. It gives the campaign a clear sense of direction and cohesiveness, but it’s not too restrictive, which allows the campaign to evolve, as it has since its launch in the winter of 2014.

The Tools

The campaign launched using only one tool: outdoor advertising. And what a great example of how important it is to choose the right tool! It’s as if they were saying to the target consumer, “With the iPhone, you can take pictures that are worthy of appearing on a billboard over Times Square.” It’s no wonder the campaign won the Grand Prix for Outdoor Advertising at Cannes in its first year.

Over the last couple of years, the campaign has expanded to over 25 countries, using newspapers, magazines, out-of-home advertising, like bus stop and subway display ads, as well at TV spots and YouTube videos.

The Message

A hallmark of all Apple's persuasive campaigns is to let the product speak for itself. Thousands of still images at first and later stunning videos produced by regular people as well as professional photographers have repeatedly made the case that you no longer need to charge up that Nikon Coolpix ®. You already have all the camera you need right in your pocket.

That's the persuasive campaign.

Now, imagine bundling all the tools that were employed to deliver the campaign worldwide. If we could organize the newspaper and magazine ad space, the billboards and the bus cards, and the television commercials and YouTube videos on some impossibly huge spreadsheet, can you see how, without the title and the messaging, they would just amount to a huge pile of inventory? And, if such a consolidation of inventory were even possible, wouldn’t the conversation be almost exclusively about audience delivery data and price – both numbers over which the sales organization has absolutely no control?

Put yourself in the shoes of any client. For which would you pay more money: the persuasive campaign or the pile of inventory?

Here’s the key point: You get to choose. 

Instead of presenting only tools, you could go further and develop a persuasive campaign. It’s OK if the genesis of the campaign is a tool that you need to sell. But you don’t have to stop there.

The payoff for making the extra investment in time and creativity will be happier clients, higher revenue and lower attrition for the media company.