Inner vs. outer (and no, I’m not referring to belly buttons)

It’s the age-old debate; inner vs. outer beauty. What matters more? We would all love to be idealistic and say inner I’m sure, but I think if we are truly honest with ourselves we would have to admit that outer is equally (if not more) important to us. Why is this?

There is a billion pound industry devoted to our appearance, and it’s going stronger than ever. In recent years there has been plenty of controversy about the impossible standards set by these companies, and it continues to drive a bigger and bigger wedge between our actual appearance and our perceptions of beauty. These companies have a lot to answer for.

There is however, at least one company who seems to be doing things differently. Dove’s ‘campaign for real beauty’ has been going for a while now, and they have already garnered plenty of praise. I don’t doubt they are reaping the benefits, but – like all truly great marketing – in these ads they are selling their products without the audience ever realising they are being sold to.

Their latest ad, courtesy of Ogilvy Brazil, is incredibly insightful and will speak to every woman who watches it. They have hired a highly-trained criminal sketch artist and asked several women to describe themselves to him. The artist then asks total strangers to describe these same women, and the differences between the two images are startling.

dove ogilvy beauty realbeauty advertising marketing brand

Watching these women’s reactions unsurprisingly forces us to examine our own self-image, and to wonder what we are basing this on.

Is this what marketing should aspire to be? Should social and moral responsibilities be just as important as the product being marketed?

They’re not just increasing their profit margins here, they are promoting positive images with a strong message about what beauty really is, and effectively they’re attempting to bring our perceptions and realities closer together. Ultimately, it’s about boosting our self-esteem. Considering the disturbing rate at which the number of reported bulimia and anorexia cases (as well as similar illnesses) has been rising, this cannot be a bad thing.

After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder – not in the pages of a glossy photoshopped magazine.

How do you market to marketers?

As marketers, we would probably all agree that after both studying and learning on the job for a few years, we each will have developed a few sure-fire tricks and techniques to help us edge up those stats, and to tailor our messages to our target audience.

But what happens when your target audience is comprised entirely of fellow marketers?

After just a few short years in this business I already feel I can figure out a company’s marketing strategy and any little tricks they’ve decided to use to achieve it, whether this be email personalisation/trending developments such as video, enticing keywords, how they use social media to establish a brand’s personality, a viral video etc. It’s gotten to the point that I have signed up to so many different mailing lists just to examine their email designs, that I actually ignore what they are selling to me.

It’s easy to become immune to the practices we use ourselves. So should we ‘up our game’ and try to lure and impress our peers with something shiny and new, or abandon this and go for a simple approach of sticking to the basics?

I would lean towards the latter approach personally, and think there are a few key points that would be important to stick to in order to impress a tough crowd like us…

  1. Keeping it simple Let’s not waste time on any kind of ‘pitch’, or trying to make something appear flashy and exciting; any marketer worth their salt is going to see right through this in 3 seconds flat. This applies to any ‘buzzwords’ in the copy you’re a fan of using as well as the visual elements of the channel you are using.
  2. Tailoring the message I think the key point here is to go straight to the core benefits of what you are selling. “You want this; here’s why and how it can help you.” Short and sweet is likely to be the most successful approach because you are probably only going to have a timeframe of up to 10 seconds to grab their attention. No gimmicks, no long intros.
  3. Using testimonials This is probably one of the few tools that may be appropriate to use. Most of us would agree that testimonials can be a powerful way to enhance your message; you only need to look at the power of review sites like tripadvisor to know the clout it can have. A couple of honest and glowing reports from an industry peer I respect would certainly make me pay more attention to the product, and to explore how it could benefit me.
  4. Choosing the right channel In this situation, you are in the unique position of genuinely knowing your target audience; because you are one of them. It will go without saying that the majority of marketers are going to be present and quite active on a range of social media sites, so take the time to think about exactly who you want to reach (assistants, CMOs, heads of marketing and so on) and pick the most appropriate channel to reach them. For example, some of these people are going to be using Twitter a lot, whereas someone more senior may have developed a following on LinkedIn and will participate regularly in group discussions there.
  5. Quality over quantity is the golden rule If any one of your potential customers catch even a whiff of spam or rambling copy, they will probably head swiftly to the ‘delete’ button followed by a short trip to the unsubscribe/unfollow; and while this is true for any audience, the key difference with marketers is that it’s going to have what I refer to as the ‘elephant effect’: they will never forget. We are trained to pay more attention and once a brand gets into our bad books, they are likely to stay there.

A great example of marketing to marketers are hubspot; a fantastic online resource for marketers. They frequently publish relevant and useful tips as well as free, downloadable guides.  I signed up to them a while ago and have noticed they stick a straightforward style. An email will arrive and be titled accurately to reflect what they are sending you; ‘[category] what you can get for free’. For e.g. ‘[Tool kit] Creating Visual Content’.

hubspot marketing

A typical email from hubspot

The email itself is uncomplicated with an overtly clear call to action, usually accompanied with a couple of key highlights from the download and social media sharing options… and that’s it! It’s a great model that I believe is just as applicable to a paid product as a free one.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? I’d be interested to see if anyone has any examples, good or bad.