In 2015, after 20+ years of sales, management, and brief marketing experience, I finally found my passion in marketing. Remarkably, at the time I was in a business development role and I found a company I thought might be a lead. I was right. It led me to my calling. The firm was called Epipheo. The unique name stands for Epiphany Video and their videos do just that.
How? They meet with clients, truly get to know what drives them, then capture the soul of a company, brand, or product and package it nicely into a digestible message in the form of a 3 minute (or less) video… or at least that was the claim.
The first video I watched moved me to tears and left me with chills. I had no idea that a video so short could leave such an impact. The message was clear, moving, passionate, and resonated. I instantly knew what the video was trying to say, but moreover, I was shocked by how it made me feel. The music, the message, the passion. I was sold. Not on the product, but on the power of marketing. No piece of marketing had ever done that for me before. I was surprised that I could feel such a strong emotional impact after viewing a video that was only 2 minutes and 16 seconds long. To see if this could be replicated, I continued to research short promotional videos. When I came across Apple’s “Crazy Ones” ad (only a minute long), I was beyond inspired. I knew what had to be done. That year I enrolled in college with the goal of becoming a Marketing Manager.
In writing this, I went back and re-watched the Epipheo video. Again, I was moved to tears… six years later. I also watched the Apple ad. Again, I had chills. I still can't help but think "Damn, that’s good marketing."
In the case study Competing with a Goliath (HBR, Oct 2016), a small company debates the best way to break into new markets where a similar product already has a dominant market share. Though the primary focus of the article is on messaging and how best to relay the value proposition with attempts to understand target consumers by using a focus group. I see several problems with this.
First, they’re asking the wrong questions. The company wanted to know how they could best compete with the big dog in the yard for the largest piece of steak, rather than focusing on how they could best find their own steak or eat the scraps. To clarify, rather than trying to take a chunk out of the competition, I believe they should be focused on telling their story. The company in the case study is an authentic brand with a superior product and a more virtuous mission at a lower cost than competitors. A properly messaged piece of content to tell this story could have been all that was needed to smash into the target market.
I believe that when you sell on your brand’s merits and value rather than comparing yourself to others, you win.
My advice to this company would be to tell their story in a way that moves people. Do market research and understand what matters to them before trying to sell them.
“Seek first to understand, then be understood” may be a biblical quote, but works pretty darn well for marketing too.
Perhaps once the audience is understood, its best to speak to people’s hearts first, lead to the logic next, and their wallet will follow. I get that this was the purpose of the focus group, but if the company had a better grasp of its primary value proposition and a means to tell the story behind what drives it, the message would be easier to deliver.
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