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When it comes  to marketing we always lean towards direct response over branding campaigns.

That is, when we engage in a marketing campaign we expect a particular, measurable outcome. Whether that’s new customers, number of visits to our website or fans on Facebook. Our latest marketing campaign is no exception.

We’re using Wyatt and Napoleon (pictured right – both fictional, of course) to help promote our $35,000 ecommerce makeover contest all around the Internet. If you’re slightly geeky (aren’t we all?) then you’ll probably see them popping up all over the place on the websites you visit. We’re using a powerful concept called retargeting to implement this through Google AdSense, but I’ll keep that our little secret for now.

When I think about memorable marketing campaigns they always have at least one of two elements: sex or humor. It bores me to tears when I see run-of-the-mill branding ads from companies like Ford, Budweiser and Kraft. You have such a HUGE marketing budget, why not try something different?

On the other hand, I’m sure you can recite Apple’s ads that paint Microsoft as an overweight geek. Their ads are memorable, funny and viral – you want to ask your friends if they’ve seen the ad because you actually see the ad as contet that you want to share as opposed to a carefully scripted 30 second spot put together by a Madison Avenue ad agency (which it, like all other TV ads, is).

I think that banner blindness (i.e. how we all subconsciously ignore advertising) is caused largely in part because the ads we’re exposed to just aren’t that interesting. After all, I already have a car so does Ford really think that bombarding me with endless banners and TV ads will get me to buy another one? Hardly.

When it came to designing the visuals for our marketing campaign, I wanted something totally left of the middle. Would you really expect an ecommerce company to use a fabio-esque looking model alongside a geek posing as a trekkie to sell you on a contest? Hopefully not.

I wanted our ads to make you laugh a bit too, or at least do a double take – “did I just see what I thought I did? Let me look at that ad again”. To me, all great advertising and marketing needs to get your attention first, and then get you to take action.

Compare this to “branding campaigns” which to me is just corporate speak for not having the systems in place to track the effectiveness of your campaign.

Great marketers track everything they do and measure it against return on investment (ROI). If it works, they scale it. If not, they try something else.

This is our first attempt.

I’ll keep you posted on how it does.

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