The next time a small business owner asks you for an advertising tip that is guaranteed to work, tell them to follow the strategy used to promote Olympic games. That’s right. Olympic games.
There is a very specific blueprint, introduced by the U.S. TV networks more than a quarter century ago, that is followed in every round of the Olympics. Winter Games, Summer Games. It doesn’t matter. The same “Magic Beans” are used again and again. So what is the secret? Do they focus on the glamor sports? No. Do they promote the big match ups? No. Do they hype the spectacle of the Olympics. No.
They do something far more important: establish an emotional connection between the audience and the athletes by broadcasting, in advance of the games, touching profiles of the athletes, highlighting their struggles, fears, dreams. When the Games arrive, the unknown athletes are living, breathing people the audience cares about — which was the goal all along. Make viewers watch by making them care about the athletes.
Note there is no hard sell, which is typically what you see in small business advertising. Instead, the goal is to establish an emotional connection. This is not easy or simple. It does not happen overnight. And it only works if you dare to be… human.
Stop being a stiff, corporate business “bot” — and start being yourself. People tell me that my website is “just like me”. I take that as a great compliment because it means I was able to connect with a complete stranger. It also means that my web pages are unlike any other. I own them. They are me.
It makes a difference that goes straight to my bottom line. For example, we captured the interest of a significant advertiser because the business owner liked that our “Meet the staff web page” included a photo of our dog and some text that noted he was our “Directory of Security.” He thought that was creative and fun — which was exactly what he wanted for his campaign. Most important, he had connected with us as people. We were no longer just one more advertising agency.
You will always do better if you remember this simple rule of marketing, which is at the heart of the Olympics marketing strategy: people connect with people, they don’t connect with things — not even a thing as big as the Olympics.