This isn't about "branded entertainment". I know you probably don't have the budget to create John Lewis Christmas ads or branded short films directed by Wes Anderson.
We happen to work in a pretty conservative market loaded with large B2B organizations. And the consumer direct brands tend to be on the conservative side as well. No problem - it's a fun box to play in. But 15 years into my career, I'm still surprised to see the skeptical eyebrow from clients when we encourage a creative path that seeks to entertain their customers and audiences.
Starting with some empathy, why is this the gut reaction?
Marketers working in conservative industries (medical, oil & gas, professional services, real estate) predominantly have the mindset of informing their audiences and driving them toward an action or conversion. This is good and right. But there's an undercurrent of professionalism, ROI-communication pressure and a general fear of pissing anyone off. I feel all of these things too, but in the world of brand/product marketing and human persuasion, our experience tells us that these influences whisper lies in our ear.
Why does entertainment matter?
This isn't about having fun. While we think that's pretty damn important too, this is about creative that captures attention, educates and leads to conversion. Here's our case:
1. Your customers' attention on your campaign content shouldn't be an expectation. While we all think our companies or products will be truly appreciated once we inform our audiences of what makes us so awesome, the reality is that their attention is given, not deserved. Your audience's engagement with your content is a relational exchange. You give me the time to let me tell you about my amazing new service or widget. I'll return the favor by entertaining you for a few minutes. When they give us their attention, what a relational slap in the face to bore them to tears.
2. Truly moving and connecting with your customer requires surprise and delight. Surprise and delight means delivering something for free. Entertainment is a gift. Laughter is a gift. You have the opportunity to move your audience and connect with them by surprising them with a gift. Let your commitment to customer service move all the way up the chain to before they're even a customer.
So the next product you're commercializing or brand awareness campaign you're running, try starting with this question:
What are we going to give away in exchange for engaging with our content?
Entertainment is value we willingly pay for every day--and a cost-effective gift you can give your customers and prospects for free.