fake content as a marketing strategy

What does a day of spoofs, pranks and general tomfoolery have to do with marketing for small business? Quite a lot actually, no joke.


Most of my favorite spoofs this year were videos of fake Google product launches like Google Tap (Morse code makes a comeback) and Gmail motion (love the lick a stamp motion to send) above. It’s understandable that Google would get into the game. They’re giant. They have hundreds of creative people on staff, and they have the means to produce realistic videos to sell their spoof.

On the other end of the spectrum is eyeglass purveyor Warby Parker, turned Warby Barker for the day, a relatively small business in comparison. Yet their website and video about a new line of eyewear for dogs was brilliant in its concept and execution. So much so that this niche brand made several national Top 10 April Fools’ lists. As a result, this relatively obscure company has found widespread exposure to a social media savvy and brand conscious audience. Not a bad marketing strategy for a small business.

Then there’s The Washington Post blog post titled, ‘Romney Drops Out of Race, Endorses Santorum’. Google’s sophisticated search engine failed to notice it was a spoof, and for a short time, the story led the top-breaking news headlines on Google News. Shortly after, The Washington Post took down the page and quickly explained it as a prank gone wrong. Still, both the original spoof and the steps taken to correct it, brought widespread exposure for the news source that typical Sunday morning headlines would not have achieved.

Now, I don’t think April Fools’ content was the highest priority in the content strategies for any of these businesses. Still, these clever bits of ‘fake content’ are a fun way for me to illustrate the importance of a content strategy for small business.

A content strategy is as important to marketing for small business as anything else you do. Content is how your audience gets to know you, what you do, what others think about you, and most importantly, why they want to work with you rather than your competitors. Content comes in all shapes and sizes including emails, website content and images, advertisements, even your business cards. But, the content you put on your social media sites (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.) is what broadens your reach like nothing else can.

So, what lessons can we learn from the best of this year’s April Fools’ spoofs as far as marketing for small business is concerned?

  1. content is king – Your reputation is built on trust, and as a rule, speaking the truth is at the heart of that trust. Still, in the right context, a little ‘fake’ content goes much further than no content at all.
  2. humanize your brand – This marketing catchphrase, made popular primarily by Facebook Timeline for brand pages, basically means connecting with each customer on a human level. How better to show your small business is human, than through humor.

What’s Next? If content still isn’t a part of your marketing strategy, make that a priority TODAY. Be sure that your human side shows through in all your day-to-day business operations.

8 remarkable qualities

The 8 qualities of remarkable employeesIn “the 8 qualities of remarkable employees“, @Jeff_Haden from Inc. goes beyond the typical ‘good to great’ employee traits, to identify ‘remarkable’ qualities that have a major impact on performance. It’s an interesting list. He identifies behaviors like ‘ignoring job descriptions’, ‘speaking when others won’t’ and ‘always fiddling’ as ways remarkable employees make things better, simply just because they can’t help it. These are traits that make people, and one could argue, the companies that encourage these qualities, remarkable.

Yet, leadership at many large companies still tends to discourage this type of remarkable behavior and continues to reward mediocrity and conformity. How many of you have walked away from that environment – either by your choice or someone else’s – because you were stifled by the restrictions of a job description, were shushed when creatively thinking out loud in a meeting at your ‘real job’, in order to start your own business? How many of you still spend what little free time you have tinkering with something simply because you want to build a better mouse trap?

As a small business owner with one or more of these traits, you’re not confined to being merely good or great. So ask yourself, am I cultivating these traits in myself and others? Let yourself be remarkable in the pursuit of your small business success.

Next Steps: Consider these 8 qualities from an entrepreneurial perspective. Discuss them with your staff individually and as a group – encouraging an open and honest discussion – and let the room come up with ways to promote remarkable behaviors towards personal and company success.

wild + crazy dreams of success

Julie Umnus local marketing advisorWhat was your last wild + crazy dream of professional success? Some people dream of simply being wealthy with no backstory on how they attained their success. For others, dreams of success can be frightening. They might consider their dreams unattainable or beyond their social status. In many cases, the end result is the same: no action, and no movement towards realizing that dream.

Yet these dreams might actually help us set our direction and our priorities. They can give us something exciting to strive for: dreams can motivate. The flip side is that if we don’t dream, we can become indecisive, strive for nothing, and become disengaged.

Today I achieved one of my dreams by launching my own website. In my dreams, the website brings me new clients, new partners, and opens the door to realizing many more dreams of success.

What’s Next? Consider your own dreams of success. Is there one thing that you are more passionate about than anything else? Really think about what’s stopping you from achieving it? Answer these questions, and you’ll know what you need to put on your to-do list.

eye + ear catching messages

This past Sunday was the Super Bowl – of advertising. The ads are considered the cream of the crop in the advertising world. So what, if anything, can we learn from those ads and those advertisers?

In general, effective messaging shares a number of key attributes:

  • the message fits the intended audience (I’m guessing a lot of dog owners watch football)
  • it stands out from the other messages in the space (Bueller? Bueller?)
  • the message is clear (what were those dogs barking about?)
  • the message is memorable (Clint Eastwood’s Chrysler halftime ad – YAY America)
  • the message helps define the brand (Drew Brees + son for Chase Quickpay, better than the showing friends splitting the dinner check)
  • the message is free of silly mistakes (I honestly didn’t notice any, let’s hope not)

This is common sense, right? Still, how many times does our ‘message’ in proposals, resumes, emails, even live conversations, does our message truly measure up? We’ve become lazy, relying on boilerplate, corporate-speak that is irrelevant at best.

What’s Next? It’s not just in business communications where we can improve our message, but all of our communications: from simple emails (watch out for ‘your’ versus ‘you’re”), to resumes (is yours up to date, does it have a human voice), to complex proposals (did you spell the client’s name right, did you come right out and tell them why you’re the best). Starting today, make sure that whatever you say or write catches the eye + ear of the audience. Before you deliver it, run it through the checklist above.