Are You Scooping Out Plain Vanilla Marketing?

There’s nothing wrong with plain vanilla ice cream. In some cases, like when it’s paired with warm apple pie, it can be a delicious experience. But when your marketing is like plain vanilla ice cream; then you have a problem on your hands. That’s because plain vanilla marketing lacks uniqueness. It lacks any special flavors. It lacks any pretty colors. It’s just plain boring and ordinary. Worst of all, there’s nothing about it that makes it stand out with all the other plain vanilla marketing efforts of every other business that’s competing with you to capture the attention of your target.

When you realize that the average American gets hit with about 1500 marketing messages per day and a good majority of those marketing messages are your run-of-the-mill plain old vanilla type of marketing; you begin to understand that plain and ordinary marketing just isn’t going to cut it anymore in this highly competitive environment.

People get so much plain vanilla marketing shoved in front of their faces every day, they’ve developed a natural immunity to it – vanilla marketing almost becomes invisible to them. They subconsciously block it out. If you want to cut through the sea of plain vanilla marketing, then you must make your marketing speak directly to your audience. You do that by 1) being unique and 2) being personal.

You can be unique by doing things differently that everyone else. In direct mail, being unique means that you’re sending lumpy mail pieces, or mail pieces that are unusually large or colorful – anything that’s different from your competitors. You can be personal by giving up the corporate tone of voice and handwriting the address on the envelope, or at least use a font that mimics handwriting. Another tactic for sending “personal” mail is instead of using metered postage, spend the time to buy PeanutsĀ® postage stamps or postage stamps featuring Elvis or some other celebrity. Why? Simply because that’s what a friend or family member would do – not a corporation.

As a prime example, take your typical trip to the mailbox on any given day. You go and get your stack of mail and then you stand there next to the trash can dumping all those credit card offers, postcards, coupons and everything else that looks like junk mail into the trash without so much as opening them up. But then you come across a red envelope that has your address handwritten on it with a Mickey Mouse postage stamp. You open it up and find a card from your Mother inside. What got you to open that card up while you tossed the rest in the trash? The answer is that it was different, unique and personal. It stood out amongst the other plain vanilla envelopes and junk mail. It looked like a human being actually sat down and took the time to send it to you rather than a robot on an assembly line. That uniqueness is what works in marketing and you need to integrate that into your marketing strategies.

At a time when companies are trying to portray themselves as big, intimidating and powerful, it’s really the informal and personal which gets past the barriers and gets through – that’s how you stop scooping plain vanilla marketing and start dishing out unique flavors that stand out.