With Christmas approaching, it is going to be even harder for people to stand out online. The solution is to be (as Seth Godin puts it) The Purple Cow. So, what is the Purple Cow? In simple terms, it is about being remarkable, and standing out from the crowd. Every year the supermarkets and department stores do this, and it works. They craft dramatic and emotionally charged adverts that are more like stories. Last year we saw the Buster the Boxer video that John Lewis put together. Millions watched the video online and on TV, and yes it got the nation talking as our hearts melted. But, while this video costs an estimated £7 Million to make, it was not the high production costs that made it a success — it was the story!
John Lewis said: “This is the story of a little girl called Bridget who loves to bounce. When her mum and dad buy her a trampoline for Christmas, they soon discover that she isn’t the only one with a passion for jumping.” But there is a lot more going on with this video, which we can learn from and apply to our own marketing. Firstly, while it is easy to say this was a story about bouncing, it is a story about Christmas. We have a Dad putting up a trampoline (in the freezing cold) for his daughter. Anyone that has put a trampoline up will instantly know what the Dad is going through! Then, we’re inspired by the magic of Christmas.
This was not the usual Santa Claus magic we see in most adverts, but a far ‘closer to home’ magic of animals coming together for a ‘bouncing’ party. And, we have the happiness of the little girl and Buster the Boxer as we see him bounce on the trampoline. The advert brought the magic of Christmas into our homes, and the audience loved it.
So, how can you use similar tactics? By creating more ‘story’ content this Christmas. Using animation, blog posts, memes, or even ‘mash-up’ videos, you can create a range of content that will get people sharing.
A good tool to use is the STEPPS viral formula created by Professor Jonah Berger. The formula features in his bestselling book ‘Contagious: How to build word of mouth in the digital age’. STEPPS stands for Social currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories. If we take the Buster the Boxer advert and look how it fits into the STEPPS framework we can see that people would share the video online because it was great and made people smile (social currency), it was also emotional and had a great story.
You might not have a £7 million budget this Christmas but, if you maximise every social media post, blog article, or video you create to capture the magic of Christmas, tell a story, and give people something to share, you will do well. So, my number 1 tip is simple: try to capture the magic of Christmas in all of your content!