Semantic Markers

Martin Lindstrom is a fascinating individual, he did a seven million dollar marketing study on the brain and wrote a book about it; Buy-ology: The Truth and Lies About Why We Buy. I encourage you to read it but what got me thinking was a recent podcast put on by Duct Tape Marketing’s John Jantsch.  Talking with Mr. Lindstrom, they simplified it down to semantic markers.  Lindstrom says, “Semantic markers are like a slap on the chin” in a negative or positive way.  Our subconscious makes most of the decisions for us so brands should be trying to create these subtle markers in our minds. Lindstrom goes on to say that small companies should be taking advantage of semantic markers to get a lot of value out of the marketing effort with very little effort.

So how do you create a semantic marker in someone’s mind?  By going to extreme’s and doing something completely unexpected but so memorable it is embedded in our minds.  Remember how good Burger Baron’s billboards were?  They were different and were actually funny that they stuck out in our minds, you’d chuckle to yourself when you thought of Burger Baron.

How about the Roughrider’s Watermelon heads?  Difficult not to talk about those.  It allowed Roughriders fans to show the league how dedicated they really were.  It was different and definitely not for everyone.

Just recently the apparel company 22 Fresh came out with a new outlet store on Facebook.

The only way you can buy anything in the store is if you have “Scrilla”, and you can buy Scrilla or earn it.

This store isn’t for the average person, then again, regular people don’t wear 22 Fresh, it’s cool, it’s new, and you have to have the Scrilla to afford it.

What’s different is memorable.

Lindstrom also discusses why we don’t see more of this ingenious advertising regularly and he attributes it to organizations being too conservative and trying to please the masses.  When you set out to tell everyone a message, no one hears.  Most of the advertising messages we see are targeted at a large number of people and the result isn’t surprising.  The more conservative, politically correct, respectful, polite the message is, the easier it is for us to ignore it.

So the next time you want to tell everyone about your product don’t, come up with a different message, a different medium, cross the line, offend someone, do something that has never been done in your industry, evoke emotion. Otherwise you are just making noise.

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