Adverblog has three pretty good ones:
Adverblog: Meet Chuck Porter.
If you haven't read Hugh McLeod, you should. He gets it. He's written, and writing about it, in How to Be Creative, and on his blog. Link: gapingvoid.
And his drawings are both Lagniappe, and at times, an excellent main course.
If making a product different/special/unexpected/a Godin purple cow gets it more word of mouth, then how do you do the same thing to a piece of communication? (Hopefully, a piece of communication about a product that already has those qualities?)
You can always try to be funnier/slicker/more fashionable/better designed/louder/more outrageous/more (creative) – but everybody else is trying that, too. So, unless you’re absolutely the best in the world (and nobody is, every time), you need something extra. That’s not to say don’t try. Just don’t think that once you’ve done it, you’re done.
All that stuff might get you noticed. But what gets somebody to do more than notice? To engage – for just a second more? Is it always all about the product, or the message – or can something in the execution help spur action, and engage, if only a little bit more?
Thinking about this made me think about: Lagniappe.
Here on the Gulf Coast, especially in a stretch roughly from Galveston to Mobile – and throughout Cajun Louisiana, most people have at least heard the term. Pronounced: (lahn'-yahp), it’s a Cajun term for “a little something extra.”
When you shop at a Cajun grocer, for instance, you might get a specially wrapped small sample of cheese or sausage, or something else good, included in your bag when you check out. It’s a gift – a bonus – for doing business with the shopkeeper. Cajun restaurants do it a lot, too – and the Lagniappe sometimes changes every day.
Do your ads/spots/blurbs/happenings/viral-whatevers have Lagniappe? Could they?
My friend Michael Wilde used to call it “the watchability factor” when he was talking about spots. Putting stuff in that you may or may not see the first time – but that increases the chance that you’ll enjoy it the second and third time.
Playboy magazine did it with the bunny logo. I’m sure almost every male reading this has looked for that logo on the cover more than once. Of course, it took some frequency to develop, but it was a Lagniappe, just the same.
Crispin and Porter did it with punch-out customization in a Mini ad. That one didn’t need repeated exposure to figure out. It worked the first time.
Can you do it online? Almost certainly. You can almost certainly do it in just about any form of communication. Probably even adwords.
Adding a little Lagniappe goes beyond good design, a great visual, a killer headline. It’s something extra – a small reward for anyone who spends a little time with your message. It can help make the message stick, and maybe even get somebody to show it to someone else. It’s something extra, though – beyond the basic concept. Call it a secondary concept, maybe.
I’m not proposing a world of subliminal messages, or scratch-n-sniff magazine ads. I’m just saying that good creative gets better when it rewards the viewer with something that goes beyond quality technique in execution.
Look at the last five pieces you’ve done. Could you have added a Lagniappe to any of them? Now, think about the next one – the one that’s on your desk right now. Would it be better – maybe engage better – with a little something extra?
Too much talking about what viral is, based upon a hard reading of Websters.
This is exactly what I was talking about in Use A Stick:
If it is communication with people – and it has an agenda – it’s advertising.
You’re going to quibble. “But there’s PR, and promotion, and…” Stop. The way people communicate and interact today blurs all those lines. And agencies can’t afford to spend time focusing on defining the nuances of different techniques. They need to focus on ideas.
Hmmm. The players at Fallon New York want to do something non-traditional, so they're getting smaller. It happens, but it's not an everyday move in an intrenched, traditional environment.
But in Atlanta, a city usually known for more innovation, some of the players are following an old model, and getting bigger, in hopes of attracting bigger.
This would have been a good idea 15 years ago. I'm not sure I see any real innovation poised to spring from the new combination. Bigger departments, yes. Better work, though? Not so sure. Mainly, because it's a tried and true formula for building something more bland. Time will tell, of course, but time moves faster now.
I was thinking. About how people on the coasts think. Not the coast I live on, but the other two. The ones you think of.
I’ve lived on both – first east, then west. Now, I’m content on the third one – hurricanes not withstanding.
Coastal thinking is important to think about because it affects the way we communicate. I talk about it a bit in Use A Stick – when I’m talking about targeting. But now I think it’s important to expound.
As bandwidth gets wider, the target gets narrower. Which means messages have to speak to a smaller audience. It helps if it speaks to them in a way, a style, and a voice that resonates.
Marketing and advertising are created by people on the coasts. If not literally, then figuratively. Just read Godin – when he talks about how cool some baker is because of a special baguette that’s a purple cow, or when he describes walking to a bodega that has a particularly interesting customer base, or especially when he gets going about how cars are nothing but transportation, not an emotional purchase, he’s on the coast.
And that’s fine, because most everyone who reads him, or who would even be interested in reading him, is on the coast, too – even if they’re in Minneapolis.
But it starts to be a problem when the coast mindset automatically translates into messages created for people in the middle. Careful, now – there’s a real easy slope to fall off here… People in the middle aren’t stupid. They’re not uncool. And they’re not less important. In fact, they represent a lot of power – in the marketplace, and elsewhere, if you happened to pay attention to the last election.
By no means am I making a political point. I’m talking about talking to people. And I think I have a good perspective, because I have, at one time or another, belonged to the middle, and to both coasts. Where I am now, I’m not sure.
The problem happens when a coast mindset assumes that a middle mindset has the same values, the same cultural references, the same sense of humor, and the same…worldview…(dang, I hate to use Seth’s third favorite word) as people on the coasts. They don’t. And they don’t really enjoy being addressed as if they do. Basically, they don’t laugh at the same jokes. At least not all the time. And it’s not because they don’t understand them – it’s just because they think other things are funny.
Now, in my experience, the initial coast mindset reaction to this is: so what? Because all those people in the middle don’t matter, anyway – right?
Lesson from politics: a candidate is simply a product.
If you want to sell your product to people who don’t think the way you do, it’s a good idea to speak to them in a way, and with a message that…speaks to them.
This, like most of the rest of my simple solutions, isn’t easy. It takes harder work than just writing what you know. It takes research, and finding the right voice for the group of people you want to talk to.
But, if it’s done properly, it works.
John Batelle at Ad Age tells marketers and agencies they have to change. Link: ARE YOU BECOMING IRRELEVANT TO YOUR CUSTOMERS?.
He's right about that. Especially here:
"Let’s break it down for the media business. What business are marketers in, after all? The 30-second-spot business? The media-buying business? The client-acquisition business? No, no and no. Marketers are in the communication business. And what business are content companies in? The magazine, network or newspaper business? Again, no. They are also in the communication business."
But he's wrong on his take on creative, here:
"In a content-driven, hit-based, pre-search world, the most successful agencies were those that made the best creative. Their goal was to make creative that was, in itself, a hit. I’ll never argue that the creative role should go away, but creative is no longer the key driver of value in a new media world.
Thanks to search, marketing has become a science on the one hand and a conversation on the other. No longer do we need to interrupt the reader or viewer with marketing. Instead, we answer their call for more information in a relevant and contextually appropriate way. (Once we do, of course, it pays to be creative.)
In other words, we need to be prepared to have a real conversation to get down to the thing we’re supposed to be good at: communicating. Not selling, not grabbing attention, not seducing. Communicating. It sounds obvious, but in fact it’s an entirely new approach to marketing, and it requires a new approach to being an agency."
Kudos on the idea of a new approach to being an agency. But he misses when he assumes communication is all the same, and all works the same. Communication comes in many forms. Even if it has to be done in a search context. A simple (like a stick) example:
A: hand-painted, sloppy cardboard sign: Kittins fore sale.
B: (Beautiful shot of a fluffy kitten) $1.00
Ok, you can't use pictures in Google words. Yet. But creative still matters. Even if the kitten ad won't win at Cannes.
It's just knowing how to adapt to the emerging formats (and the ones that follow.) Creative might not drive for a little while, but eventually, it will drive again, once everyone figures out the mechanics, and parity is reached with what is, essentially, a commodity form of communication.
Agencies who figure that out first are going to win.
Seth Godin re-makes a good point about bosses, and pigeons. I'm afraid it applies to most ad agencies, as well. Link: Seth's Blog: The Threat of Pigeons and Other Fundamentalists.