Marketing is simple: It’s understanding that being different is the only option

Marketing, like many things in life, is as simple or as complicated as we want it to be….

Having worked in many different senior marketing roles over the course of me (oh God…) 15 year career to date, this is probably the one thing that I have always tried to keep in mind whenever I have been involved in creating and developing marketing campaigns for brands.

Now don’t get me wrong, of course every business needs a marketing strategy; if you don’t know where you’re going in the first place then you’ll end up some place, but just not in the right place.

But what I am saying is that over-analysing and over-strategising can often be counter-productive.

But why?

Over-strategising can result in creativity being almost entirely removed from the marketing process, (and let’s face it, marketing is all about creativity), it can make people feel nervous at the thought of thinking too far outside the box, and it can make people believe that it’s much safer to be caurious (less likely to make mistakes) than it is to create something different that is edgy, and requires brave decision making.

As I see it, great marketing is really about three fundamental things – because without these three things, no amount of strategy talk and in-house marketing planning meetings will result in anything original or interesting:

1Actively setting out to do something truly different and unique(rather than just adopting safe copy-cat tactics that might tick boxes but won’t actually be interesting or engaging).

2. Having the guts, the bravery, and the self-assuredness to not only think about but to actually deliver a campaign that is so different and unique that it’s likely to divide those whose buy-in is required.

3. Understanding people (ie your specific target audience) in terms of how they work, what makes them tick and what they are likely to respond to and engage with.

David McGowan, Quirky Nights Glamping Village and a Boeing 767….

I’m pretty sure that David McGowan (I don’t actually know him so therefore so I can’t ask him!) owner of Quirky Nights Glamping Village in Co. Sligo in the North West of Ireland, would subscribe to a similar sort of theory.

As an undertaker, (yes an undertaker as opposed to a marketer), it seems he had grown a little tired of dealing with death and the negativity and seriousness which that particular subject tends to bring.

But more than that, it seems he had also sensed that the people of Ireland as a whole (not just him) were fed up of hearing and reading about recession, water taxes, incompetent politicians and other such things of an equally depressing nature.

Everyone needed a lift, everyone needed something cheerful to talk about for a change; he recognised that people right across Ireland needed something to positive to engage with, something that would put a smile back on their faces again.

The Quirky Nights Project –a true Purple Cow

Armed with what it seems is an incredible natural understanding of (as well as an interest in) people and society as a whole, David wasn’t a “marketer” by profession….so how could a non-marketer (I use this phrase to highlight how we like to label people and put them into boxes) come up with an in genius purple cow?

Well, the fact is that although David is not a marketer by profession, he is actually very evidently a marketer of the natural born kind, the reason being that he has an incredible natural understanding of people, a natural empathy and curiosity, and a way of just knowing what it takes to engage people to a cause, once the cause is real, authentic, and theirs.

And what better way to do this than to create a glamping park unlike any glamping or camping park seen anywhere in the world, ever?

Something to make people genuinely happy…..

Unlike many successful business people, David didn’t set out to create just another business that he could perhaps make money from for himself. He already had a business; what he wanted was to create something bonkers and groundbreaking; something so different that and such fun that his community would be transformed financially, socially, positively.

And thus, Quirky Nights Glamping Village was born; this was accommodation as had never been seen before….

Now, instead of staying in a boring old camping pod / tents / caravan, people would actively choose to come to the small town of Enniscrone, Sligo because only here (and crucially only here) would they find accommodation options ranging from a Boeing 767 (yes a real Boeing 767, completely intact), a train imported from the UK, a teapot which would have accommodation units inside, 10 Double Decker Buses, a fleet of 8 Taxis…….

So bonkers it’s massive!

Without ever having to read books on marketing theory or models, without having to formally learn what it takes to be a marketer, David set out to do something completely different because having been in business and having a natural understanding of people, it seems he just instinctively knew that offering people something completely unique and different was the only way in which he could stand out from the rest.

The Story and the storytelling

The key to the success of this wonderful idea was the back-story; a humble, down to earth, fun loving funeral director from Enniscrone suddenly appearing on national radio talking about setting up a transport themed glamping site was pretty unusual….

But more than this, it was the fact that he was embarking on this not just for himself but for his community and his town; this was something that would benefit everyone, financially and emotionally, and was something which could put Enniscrone on the global tourism map. Thus, the story was perfect, believable and wonderfully told.

Finally, the personality of the man involved was a crucial element because his spirt and madness very much mirrored that of the proposed enterprise; the story added up:

He was likeable, fun, quirky, slightly bonkers, and fascinating, yet at the same time he was clearly intelligent, well spoken, engaging and incredibly ambitious; he was all of the things that Quirky Nights Glamping Village would be.

Trending with #Planesailing

After the incredible build-up to the arrival of the Boeing which gripped the nation, “The Big Yoke” (that’s what the plane became known as), finally embarked on its journey from Shannon airport to Enniscrone, by sea.

Twitter went into overdrive; #planesailing trended; David appeared on radio to give us up-to-the-minute updates as the country waited by their radios with bated breath to hear whether the aged old Russian Boeing would ever make it to her final destination.

Enniscrone – the town at the centre of the world – went crazy; everyone who could volunteer to help did so; tailbacks went on for miles as people travelled the length and breadth of the country to catch a glimpse of a Boeing 767 arriving into a small rural town by sea, beaching, and then being transported along specially built roads to its final resting place at Quirky Nights Glamping Site. Even tidal conditions delaying arrival into Enniscrone until the wee hours of the morning didn’t deter people……2am, 3am, 4am, crowds lined the streets through the night desperate to see the story unfold.

And still the story keeps on giving; try booking a few nights through and join the thousands upon thousands filling in the expression of interest form in the hope ythat they might just be one of the lucky ones to win that golden ticket and experience Ireland’s (sorry, I mean the world’s) hottest accommodation site…

The moral of the story is this:

Great marketing is not about theory, it’s about standing out, being brave and being different.

This story is proof that wonderful original storytelling, authenticity, genuine emotion and passion, and a “who dares wins approach” are exactly the elements that brands need to focus on when it comes to creating marketing campaigns that win the hearts and minds of their audience, and create the sort of excitement that really engages.

It all comes back to the three fundamental things which I outlined at the beginning of this article: actively setting out to do be different, having the guts and self belief to follow this process regardless of what others might think, and understanding people and what makes them tick.


For creative storytelling, tone of voice creation and words that engage and sell, contact The Right Words today.