We would all like to know the secret to great and successful marketing.
I am not going to tell you this secret, though.
What I am going to do, is show you some examples of companies who tapped into this secret formula. Why? Showing is much more powerful than telling.
Some of these marketing examples will trigger a whole set of neural pathways in your head.. they will change what you thought was possible in marketing, and might become the seed of a new marketing plan.
In-flight safety video
When you can make a cool piece of art out of something that is normally jaw-breaking boring, you are the real hero to me.
Virgin America managed to juice up the whole in-flight safety instruction you get in the airplane. They got over 12 million people to watch their safety video on Youtube… voluntarily!
Excelling in your day-to-day communications is ten times as important as having great ads. Virgin truly delivers a black belt performance here, because of three reasons.
Virgin America crushes a whole set of beliefs that ‘safety needs to be boring’. They set out to do what no other flight company did before, and succeeded.
The video exceeds our quality expectations by far. The choreography, the lyrics, the characters.. it’s MTV clip quality at least. In this way, it creates a novelty/surprise reaction that keeps us glued to the screen.
The video is fun to watch. There are all kinds of quirky characters, like a hyper flexible woman who does yoga in her seat, a nun and a curly kid who commands in a deep man’s voice that smoking is prohibited.
Let’s dive one level deeper. Marketing shouldn’t just be great in itself, but it should also fit seamlessly in the bigger story of a brand. That’s definitely true for this video, because it completely aligns with the core values of Virgin.
Virgin is all about achieving greatness. Their slogan is “Flying in the face of ordinary”. This video is exactly that. It excels on all levels, and I say it’s the best in-flight safety video that currently exists in the world.
Fun & pleasure
Coolblue – the Dutch Amazon – is one of my favorite marketing examples. This might be because of their slogan “Everything for a smile”. And because of the fact that they actually live their slogan all the way.
They even found ways to dip their shipping boxes in a happy vibe.
“Do not open this box with a carrot”
“Don’t put an elephant in this bag”
The Coolblue box make-over challenge
Coolblue succeeded in bringing the ‘humanness’ back in the fairly impersonal and automated shipping and delivering process. Their shipping boxes are much loved, because they make you smile, and because they incentivize people to have fun and connect with each other.
Most companies just do what they have to do.
Coolblue, however, exceeds the expectation every time. They don’t just deliver webshop goodies, but they also bring a smile. Some additional examples of their marketing brilliance:
❧ People can win € 100 if they send in their creative box make-over (see pictures above). The pictures of these creations do very well on social media.
❧ Many boxes have a label on them you can fill in to thank your neighbors with for taking on the package.
❧ Every month, Coolblue sends over 200 written cards to personally wish people a good time with the item they purchased.
The shipping boxes are only a small example of the fun vibe that Coolblue is emitting.
Their package deliverers are usually smiling happy people, their office is full of fun meeting rooms (like a Pacman meeting room), and they often post social media updates of dancing or otherwise weirdly acting employees.
To conclude, Coolblue clearly fits the bill when it comes to their slogan ” Everything for a smile”.
Art & beauty
It doesn’t happen often that billboards are done right. Most of the time, they are distracting and energy-drawing. In some rare cases, luckily, they are inspiring and uplifting.
Koleston Naturals hair dye
Natural billboard background, natural dye
Most billboards are like unhappy toddlers who are screaming at you: “I want your attention!! Now!” But these billboards are very pleasing and calming to the eye. They are almost pieces of art.
The billboards are not only beautiful, but both also carry a smart message with them. Koleston uses the background’s natural view to illustrate the fact that this woman’s hair dye is made from natural ingredients.
Guerilla marketing is playful, spontaneous and interactive. It might be one of my favorite kinds of marketing, because it inspires you to step out of your daily routine for a moment.
Take a look at this creative marketing example from Photoshop.
The Photoshop Bus Stop Prank
You want to LIVE what you are. Photoshop is all about creativity, and creativity is exactly what they show in their prank. I’m sorry, you just have to watch it, I’m not going to spoil it :).
As a bonus, this prank also pulls people out of their daily self-absorbed routine. You see their faces change from looking dull to literally laughing out loud. With this guerilla marketing, Photoshop brings inspiration and creativity to the streets.
It doesn’t matter if you are small or big, you are always capable of doing great things. Look at Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia.
The idea is simple. If you buy a slice of pizza at Rosa’s for one dollar, you can buy another slice for a person in need for only another sixty cents . The person in need writes a personal message on a post-it, and redeems it for the pizza slice.
This tiny pizza place was featured in Ellen Degeneres’ TV show and in many blogs and social media. That’s what happens if you act from your heart.
A wall full of gratitude
Happy homeless man with his free pizza
Post-its: the pizza currency
Rosa’s Fresh Pizza is not saying “We should attract more costumers, let’s do something good for this world. People will like it, and we will become famous.”
Nope. In the case of Rosa’s (and almost all great marketing) their marketing is just a by-product, not a goal in itself. They do what feels right, and because people like other people doing the right thing, they got a lot of attention.
These little 30 second ads from Apple are just addictive, I watched over fifty of them.
The idea to personify computers is just genius. Mac is featured as the cool and creative guy, and PC as the slightly boring and fearful office man.
Work vs Home
❧ They are very clean and simple, but still convey a ton of meaning. That’s the power of metaphors.
❧ It’s just plain funny. You cannot help but chuckle about poor old PC.
❧ Nothing is directly sold to you. It doesn’t even look like an ad (no logo’s etc.). It’s just a nice story to watch. Apple is not overtly steering you to take a certain action (“Buy us!”) and this makes us more relaxed watchers.
These ads fit seamlessly in the bigger story of Apple, because they completely align with the core values of Apple. Just like Apples products, the ads are:
– Clean, simple
– Easy to understand
– Beautifully designed
When everything you do as a brand aligns with your philosophy, it creates a deep feeling of integrity and trustworthiness within people.
In case you wondered, great marketing doesn’t have to be sexy and funny. River Pools teaches us that.
They invented content marketing before marketing gurus started to preach about it. No other swimming pool company shares as much practical swimming pool knowledge as them.
River Pools Learning Center
Listen to Marcus Sheridan, the owner or River Pools in this interview with Copyblogger:
“My philosophy is that if anyone has asked me a question about my business, regardless of what it is, it’s my job to answer that question — preferably on my website. This philosophy is what made River Pools so incredibly successful, and is also what drives much of the growth of The Sales Lion [his marketing bureau].”
We like helpful companies just as much as we like helpful people. The huge benefit of being helpful online, is that it makes your SEO scores go through the roof. People from all over the country/world will ask their questions online, land on your website and might do business with you.
River Pools also show us that you don’t have to be big on all marketing levels. They are not very active on social media, because of the huge results of their content marketing. They just do one thing very well.
“Know thyself. Then express thyself.”
Ideally, every social media message is a reflection of who you are. All seven marketing examples in this article are not only powerful messages in themselves, but are also a clear reflection of what the featured company stands for.
Who are you as a company?
What is your strength?
These questions won’t make you rich overnight, but they will be the determining factor for succes in the long run. Especially when it comes to social media.
Giving versus taking
We don’t like people who draw out our energy, and the same goes for companies. We like generosity, and giving.
Look closely into all the seven marketing examples, and you will see that all these companies are giving something.
❧ Virgin America offers us inspiration to achieve greatness in our lives, and not to fear to challenge the status quo.
❧ Coolblue gives us pleasure with its entertaining shipping boxes.
❧ Koleston Naturals hair dye comes up with the gift of art in the public domain.
❧ Photoshop offers us inspiration to play with reality, and step out of our daily routine for a moment.
❧ Rosa’s Fresh Pizza gives a beautiful example how to be a good and compassionate person.
❧ Apple offers an astonishing clear insight in the clash between the worlds of a creative entrepreneur, and of a big and bureaucratic company. And some clean fun.
❧ River Pools gives us a huge library of information about swimming pools for free.
When designing your marketing campaign, don’t overly focus on what you want to ‘get out of it’. This leads to manipulative messages. Instead, focus on creating great pools of value, and on bringing something beautiful into the world.
My goal with Shine Online
I am committed to bringing more great marketing in this world.
This blog is a first step, because it can be a marketing inspiration for many other companies. I think we learn best by example.
The next step is to collect 108 of the most inspiring marketing examples in the world on my website. I will visit these places, talk to the managers and employees, take beautiful photographs, dive into all their marketing efforts, and translate all of this in a very digestible and attractive online report.
Do you know a company that does a superb marketing job? Let me know in the comments!