Are you doing your bit to save the polar bears?
Well, the good folks riding the Metro DC are — at least if the transport hub’s latest ad campaign is to be believed. Only, it’s not the polar bears we need to save. That’s so last decade, y’all. Apparently it’s all about the coffee plants these days…
For the past month or so, the DC Metro has been plastered with ads telling commuters that increasing co2 emissions are going to melt the ice caps and destroy coffee plants. Or worse, wine plants! So, guys, if you want to keep having your morning cup of Joe, or your evening glass of red, you gotta ditch your cars and ride the metro.
These ads are driving Rachel to distraction. In fact, they’ve been bugging her so much, she just had to do a teensy tiny bit of ad analysis. As she does…
And here’s the reason she hates them so much — they highlight a completely fucked up power dynamic between the DC Metro and their audience.
Firstly, the ad placement is all wrong because the only place you can actually see these ads? On the damn subway. That’s right; they’ve gone to all that trouble to advertise to people who are ALREADY using the metro. Talk about a captive audience, right?
But even worse, that captive audience is made up of like a zillion smart, super-educated people, a ton of whom actually work in environmental industries. These are people who understand that when it comes to melting ice caps and polar bears (or coffee plantations!), the problem is systemic — it’s not like Rachel, as an individual taking the subway, is making the slightest bit of difference anyway.
And anyone who usually has to drive and who happens to catch one of those ads on a rare excursion to the glamorous DC Metro is just going to feel like shit for not doing more to secure their grandkids’ caffeine fix.
Why fear-based marketing is so 2004.
Here’s the thing: we know that fear-based marketing doesn’t work. Much like the plight of the polar bear, it had its day way back in the noughties.
Not only have we had enough of it, but neuroscience tells us that it can’t work. There’s a level of fear where we basically just tap out — it’s like our brains just can’t handle any more. We kind of go numb and start thinking, “fuck it, if I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die!”
And because literally every marketer everywhere went down the fear-based route a while back, we now have a whole generation that just tunes it out.
Believe your audience members are already their best selves.
So what should DC Metro have done instead?
They should have shifted the entire power dynamic. Instead of trying to literally scare people into taking public transport, and forming a weird adversarial relationship with their customers, they should try to make their audience feel good about themselves.
In fact, whenever you’re talking to your audience through marketing, advertising, or whatever, you want to be aspirational. You want to believe that your audience is already the best version of themselves — or that the best version of themselves is well within reach.
As business owners, it’s up to you to choose the power dynamic you have with your customers. And you can choose an adversarial dynamic that’s based on fear, or you can show your audience that you genuinely do think a lot of them. Through your marketing, how you speak to them, and how you treat them, you can create a truly positive power dynamic.
Moo: the masters of the positive power dynamic.
Like super-fun printing company Moo, today’s Good Business, which is just like the fucking epitome of how to create a positive power dynamic with your customers.
Not only do they have a million examples of great marketing on their site (no fear-based stuff or talking down to anyone, ever —check it out when you’ve finished here) but they treat their customers soooo well.
Like crazy well.
Like when Illana and her client royally screwed up and put the wrong address on a massive print order worth $100s and didn’t catch the mistake until after the stuff was printed. You’re having palpitations just thinking about it, right?
When Illana’s client contacted Moo to ask if they could maybe, perhaps, pretty please give them a discount on the reorder, not only did they offer to reprint the entire order for free, they actually rushed the whole thing through for them too.
Even though it was 100% not their mistake to fix.
Now, we’ve talked before about over-delivering and how it’s an art in and of itself, and this is one company that totally nailed it. Because the markup in printing is so high, reprinting the order wouldn’t have cost them a ton, but over-delivering like that is such a powerful marketing tool, it’s a move that totally pays off for them.
So it works for them, it works for the customer and everyone walks away feeling respected and happy. No one’s out of pocket and everyone gets a great deal. And that’s how you create a positive power dynamic with your customers.
Finding that sweet spot of what works for you, and what works for your customer — that’s where the magic is. And Moo has it down to a fine art. Oh, and they have a ton of environmentally-friendly options too so they’re saving the polar bears without scaring you shitless in the process. Which is a policy Rachel can definitely get on board with!
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