For many smaller businesses, we don’t often think about marketing campaigns. We’re a bit more one post to the next, today’s Instagram image but not tomorrow’s.
A marketing campaign is just a set of stories and activities that all run off the same idea. The best ones have a consumer truth at the heart of them. As small business owners, there’s nothing to stop us stealing some of the ways they work to come up with something distinctive for our own brands.
Let’s have a look at Oatly’s Help Dad campaign.
One big truth
A truth about what customers do or believe or are motivated by is often what gets your brand going in the first place. Your lightbulb moment.
With the Oatly campaign, the truth could have been that as much as people might care about saving the planet, they don’t care so much that they’d give up the food and drink they love. Call it plain selfish or FOMO, the facts aren’t pushing them into changing a long-held preference and behaviour.
Oatly might also have some more information on who is most likely and least likely to use their products. Of course there’ll be some sweeping generalisations, but there’ll also be a nugget of truth in there too.
One big idea
When you look at your truth, then what are the different ways you could do something with that? Which one has the most legs?
In this case, they came up with the idea that it was “Dad” who was not having any of this. And the way to get to Dad might be through the teenagers of the household (so back to least and most likely to use the product).
From there, they got clever with flipping typical parenting scenarios, giving teens ammunition for Dad’s arguments and other ways, from shaming to aiding, to help win Dad round.
One message everywhere
The Oatly marketing campaign was everywhere. It had:
- Two 40 second TV commercials aired during The Voice
- A video-on-demand campaign on the major commercial channels
- Oatly’s largest UK social spend
- Bespoke podcast partnership episodes
- A Help Dad website with lots of stats, advice on how to answer any argument on not switching to dairy, and plant based recipes for family favourites
- Three bepoke supplements in the Guardian
- Multiple double page spreads of the advert in newspapers
And everywhere it showed up, the message was the same. You’d see the same style, the same message.
Everything looks and sounds like Oatly. They’re like Innocent for the 21st Century. They love words and to plaster them on everything.
When you’ve got a style, a tone of voice, then use it everywhere.
(If you’re not sure on what tone of voice is, then take a look at my post on eight simple steps you can take to create your brand’s tone of voice)
The key thing in anything you do is to be distinctive. How can someone know it’s from your brand, even before they read it? Or can they read it and know it’s you straightaway.
Your budget is a big fat zero
You and most of us!
Most businesses can only imagine running a campaign of the size of “Help Dad”. But we have to remember that Oatly was a newcomer, an outlier, a challenger brand and not that long ago.
Just because you can’t do a TV campaign doesn’t mean that you can’t create something memorable, and using the things that are more accessible to small businesses. (Don’t take my word for it. Read my interview with Sally from Sally’s Cottages whose activity regularly trounces stuff from Airbnb)
Do it differently to everyone else
The Oatly campaign ran during Veganuary, when every brand with any vegan credentials was out there telling their story.
Many of them told the same story.
That we must to adopt a plant-based diet to save the planet.
Oatly were telling the same story, but they just did in in a very different way to everyone else. What’s the twist you can put on the story everyone in your category tells?
Take your idea across everything
Whatever channels you use at the moment, bring your idea to life in all of them. You just might need a slightly different version in each one.
It will probably mean spending some time, which of course has a cost, but it might not have a cash cost. The lower-cost places you could start could include:
- Your website
- Blog posts
- Instagram posts
- Your Facebook page
- Your newsletter
- Handwritten messages you put in with orders
- Your signature block in your emails
- Your company Linkedin page and your personal page
Where you might spend a bit of money
Sometimes you might want to invest a bit. If you’ve got experience in things like Facebook ads, then that might be your thing.
But sometimes the old school ideas might be worth considering as well (particularly at the moment when our life has a bit of an old-fashioned feel to it). And some of these things might have a visual and shareable element to them. So, how about…
- Carrier bags
- A printed brochure
- Printing inside or outside delivery boxes
Think how much coverage brands like Glossier got just for pink bubblewrap bags (to the point they were trademarking those bags!) Sometimes it’s the small things that make you stand out, and make you memorable.
It’s a campaign
Any kind of campaign, not just marketing ones (I’d go as far as saying 99.9% of them) lasts for more than 24 hours.
By which I mean don’t give up if you haven’t gone viral, hit the number 1 spot on Google and been featured on the news all by the end of the first day. Set some goals for yourself before you start the work, and then keep going.
Oatly ran for most of January. And yet there’ll still be millions of people who will think that they never saw the campaign.
We have to remember we don’t have the right to anyone’s attention. We can only create things that we think people will enjoy, find useful, be surprised by and interested in.
Those things aren’t exclusive to big, expensive marketing campaigns. They’re exclusive to getting to a truth and then finding a new way to tell stories around it.
What campaign would you steal an idea from?
Personally I’ve still got a deep love for Emily Snacks outdoor campaign from the height of the first lockdown.
And before anyone gets edgy, I’m not talking about copying. You’re not trying to pass your business off as someone else’s. You’re just looking at a great idea and going “I could run with that”.
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent.”– Jim Jarmusch