Phil Collins: the man, the musician, the marketing legend

Admit it, we’ve all been there. The time someone broke your heart, and you were devastated? Weeks spent in a pinot and Ben-and-Jerry's haze, boxes of Kleenex and that one song that captured all the pain in one perfect lyric, almost as if the singer had been there going through the breakup with you.

It doesn't matter if it was Gotye or Phil Collins (and you coming baaaack to me is against all odds…), when you found that one perfect song, you played it over and over again, and even now, hearing it will still take you back. Ooh love hurts.

 In fact researchers at North Carolina State University have proven scientifically that humans respond to sad love songs. Well, duh.

When you’re heartbroken, you notice it everywhere. You find yourself in the supermarket listening to a song you’ve heard before, but never really heard, thinking to yourself - it’s just so true.
— This American Life

When someone else puts into words or pictures what you’re feeling, it takes an immediate relevancy that captures your attention, the way an English word jumps out when you’re surrounded by Japanese kanji in a crowded Tokyo street.

We’re tempted to think that frequency is the key to getting attention. Make them see your ad enough times and they’ll start to listen. Instead this leads to fatigue and a lack of engagement – and you begin to think that marketing just doesn’t work.

 But as we’ve learned from Phil Collins, you don’t have to work as hard at capturing attention if people are subconsciously programmed to seek your message out. Which means over time you can move your customers through the funnel of:


Relevance. Familiarity. Trust.

  

How do you give your marketing relevancy?

 Feel what your customers are feeling.

Phil Collins says he couldn’t have written Against All Odds without having gone through a breakup himself. Jodi talked last week about the need to develop insights around what your customers feel and do which will help you uncover topics that they feel strongly about. Examine their experience, and look for themes that will capture their attention.


Don’t talk to your customers. Talk to just one customer.

Generalising is the enemy of relevancy. Like breakups – of course everyone’s had one, but when it happens to you it seems incredibly specific. The more needle sharp you can be with your messages and targeting, the more personalized your marketing will feel to your customers.

Data is your friend here – are there questions you can ask and record that will help you understand your customer’s journey better? Can you group your database into meaningful segments with different messages or offers that better suit their needs?


Add value (in the right way)

What will help them though this stage or issue they are having? Be careful though not to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Just as we listen to breakup songs not to get over our pain but to wallow in it, your customers may not want a solution but empathy or connection.


Don’t be afraid of frequency

Frequency is fine if you have something meaningful to say – but it’s important to test your campaigns to identify if and when fatigue sets in, at which point you can introduce a new message, or target a different set of customers


Let’s leave the final word on relevancy to my buddy Phil:

So many people try to fluff things up or disguise them or make them a little bit too clever. But sometimes, it’s the simplest thing that actually reaches people.
— Phil Collins
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Nerissa Atkinson is co-director of The Revery, a marketing consultancy for growing businesses wanting to remain lean. Curious about everything, her personal ethos is to have nothing in her house that is not useful or beautiful. With two small children life is weighted towards the first, but she spends plenty of time on Pinterest and other social media platforms planning for the future.

Image via Flickr CC/Avichay Dino