“People are bored. They are bored out of their minds — at all times.”
World-class copywriter John Carlton pointed this out to Eben Pagan during a one-hour coaching call Eben paid Carlton $1,000.
“This was the most profound thing [Carlton] said,” says Eben.
On the surface, this doesn’t seem like earth-shattering news.
People are bored, so what?
You’re probably bored reading this right now…
… But there’s something else going on here.
Eben continues painting the boring picture…
“People are bored. They wake up, they’re bored. They make breakfast, they eat their Twinkie, they’re bored. They watch the TV or the news, which bores them further. They take their boring transportation to their boring job and work with a bunch of boring people all day. Then, at the end of the day, they go home in the other direction on their boring commute, to their boring house, and they watch a little bit more boring TV, and go to bed — bored. They don’t have an exciting life and they don’t know anyone that has an exciting life. Most people are bored. And if you can just break them out of their boredom, you can just be an interesting and exciting person — you’re dramatically different from everyone else, you’re dramatically different from most of their life.”
That last point is key.
Being interesting and exciting differentiates you, your products, your services, and your business. What a lot of people don’t realize is that it’s a lot easier to be different than you might imagine.
Dr. Carmen Simon co-founder of Rexi Media and the author of Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions is an authority in the field of memorable marketing.
Simon wrote a fascinating article a few months back for Branding Strategy Insiderabout the nine steps to distinctiveness. In Simon’s article, she explains the importance of similarity (or boringness) in a marketplace.
“If you’re not first to market, observe pockets of similarity in your domain and then strike with distinctiveness. Allow your audiences’ brains to habituate to similarity; it will be easier for your message to stand out.”
Simon also offers some interesting examples of how you can differentiate products by simply adding meaning to them.
In one experiment that ran from 2009-2010, which Simon references, two authors bought $129 worth of knickknacks from local thrift shops — all under $2 each.
The authors took pictures of each knickknack and posted them on e-Bay with an accompanying description. In the description, the study authors had various professional writers create short stories and poems about the meaning behind each knickknack.
“The jar of marbles was bought for $1 and sold for $50,” says Simon.
When the study concluded, the authors made $8,000 off the knickknacks, simply by adding meaning to otherwise meaningless objects.
Storytelling is one powerful way to differentiate your product in a boring market.
Another, more recent example, can be found in this perfume commercial.
W Magazine does a decent job of explaining why this commercial is unlike any other perfume commercial you’ve seen before.
“It’s basically a spiritual sequel to Spike Jonze’s video for Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice,” writes W.
This is true. In fact, the “Weapon of Choice” music video, starring Christopher Walken, was anything but boring at the time of its release. But as music videos became more theatrical, “Weapon of Choice” became less distinct.
However, in the context of perfume commercials, this style has never been seen before — it’s different. But not so different that we’re turned off.
Why? Because there’s a hint of familiarity associated. We’ve already categorized this style in our brains as not boring.
So for most people who’ve seen Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” music video but maybe can’t recall it by name — they sense this positive familiarity. The perfume commercial is simply reinvigorating these feelings of novelty and excitement you once felt for a similar music video.
This is a strategy that can be used for various marketing and advertising campaigns.
The formula is simple: Take something that was shocking (not boring) in one context and reintroduce it in another context. If you hit the sweet spot of waiting until just enough time has passed that the familiarity hasn’t been lost, you’ll have successfully created a campaign that looks fresh and new, yet has a familiar appeal.
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