The stats are in: cannabis is the next “big” economy. Cannabis sales topped $6.7B in 2016 and by 2020, California’s cannabis market alone will top that number.

Not too long ago, “marketing” to cannabis users was an easy proposition, there were a handful of publications and communities around which dedicated cannabis users gathered, they all had one thing in common: cannabis use. Despite access to cannabis, in some ways, this was the easy days because everyone who was willing to subscribe, opt-in and discuss cannabis was passionate. It was like a small, intimate club where everyone had the same password to get in.

But today’s cannabis user isn’t so easy to categorize. Because of increased availability and acceptance, today’s cannabis user is likely to view cannabis as an adjunct to their life, not a defining characteristic of their self-story. That means the vast majority of the cannabis users of today and tomorrow are only mildly interested in “cannabis culture,” instead, they want to know how cannabis is going to fit into their lives and their cultures. In short, marketing or press targeted towards “cannabis users” is like marketing to a demographic as broad as “women.”

What this means for cannabis business community is in order to execute successful cannabis marketing and PR campaigns, you need to be extremely clear on where and why and for whom your product works. If your product is a product that’s proudly stoner, that’s cool – just realize that Moms aren’t likely to relate to those marketing or public relations stories. Today’s cannabis brands need to put a stake in the ground, define their customer and be proud of how the brand fits into the customer’s life.

Get to know your target market, are they using cannabis publicly or just with close friends? Do they use cannabis to inspire creativity or to get some sleep? How old are your customers are they trendy millennials or are they nostalgic boomers?  As importantly, what are they doing when they aren’t using cannabis?

Understanding what your customer is doing when they aren’t using cannabis is critical, especially now, with advertising and media restrictions still in place.

While the new, huge cannabis market is good for business, it’s time for cannabis brands to double down on branding by being exceptionally clear about the motivations of their customers and that’s harder than it sounds.

 

Captivation Motivations can significantly change your content strategy.


This is the second installment of a series on the seven Captivation Motivations. This installment is all about your owned media and creating a content strategy that meets your objectives while also thrilling and delighting your audience.

 

Did you know that we’re all ruled by a super-powerful hormone? It’s true.
This hormone dominates decision-making, especially split-second choices like the ones digital users are making every day.
Decisions like “click,” “like,” “retweet,” and more importantly, “buy” and “subscribe” are all significantly affected by this hormone.
Savvy marketing strategists have been triggering this hormone for years, some knowingly, some stumbling upon it.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of this hormone.
You’ve heard about in the context of drugs, sex, and even food.
But what does this hormone do for marketers?
I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, a little more about this hormone: dopamine.
See? I told you you’ve heard of it.
Dopamine is best known as the “pleasure hormone.”
It’s the hormone that creates the surge of euphoria that we feel after a particularly satisfying (insert pleasure here).
But, the surge of satisfaction is not actually the most powerful tool in a communicator’s arsenal.

The most powerful tool for the content communicator is anticipation.

And it turns out that dopamine is actually more aptly described as the “wanting and seeking” hormone.
Ah. Now you get it right?
It turns out that the “wanting and seeking” trigger is MORE powerful than the “satisfaction.”
This means we’re hard-wired to keep looking, keep seeking until we satisfy our wanting and seeking.
And then we’re hard-wired to do it all again.

Think for just a moment about the advantage to your content and overall marketing strategy if you can trigger this motivation.
Images can trigger our wanting and seeking. Ever seen a really great close-up shot of your favorite food and searched for how to have it delivered at lunch that.very.day?
Images of just about anything we want can trigger our “wanting and seeking” hormone.
This means you really need to think about the images you’re using in marketing and advertising, because images are incredibly key to the top of the funnel.
While we see food and sex all the time in marketing, it might be that those images aren’t appropriate for your brand.
Good news for you.
Because there’s more.

 

Guess what else fuels our anticipation?

Just guess.
This is super important because not all businesses and campaigns are suitable for triggering food, sex and drug urges.
Curiosity.
The brain experiences dopamine rushes when we’re curious for more information.
Think about the last Google search you did. Ever been sucked down the rabbit hole of Google and found yourself coming out of the other side 45 minutes later?
That’s your insatiable, hormone-driven seeking and wanting trigger.
That’s your brain on the anticipation train.

Our quest for information is basically never-ending.
We’re hard-wired that way, and from an evolutionary standpoint, this is a splendid thing.
Now WHAT information triggers this is the key.
This is where we circle back around to audience identification and personalization.
We’re inundated with information, so we have to be very, very clear on our audience so we understand WHAT kind of information or curiosity triggers our target audience.
Motivational triggers work on all people, but what triggers the motivation is where your marketing research and strategy comes in.

Another thing that triggers our wanting and seeking hormone is unexpected prompts that are auditory or visual.
You know what does this exceptionally well?
Your phone. It beeps, or vibrates or a message pops up and you almost ALWAYS stop what you are doing to look at it don’t you?
If you don’t, it takes an active and conscious effort on your part.
This is why my most hated and dreaded marketing tactic, pop-up messaging is so powerful.
I personally drop right out of a page when I get a pop-up because I feel like it’s insensitive to the reader, but the truth is, it works on the vast majority of people because the surprise triggers the wanting and seeking.
Novelty and unpredictability also trigger our seeking behavior.
This is why “New and Improved” works.

The Counter Intuitive Path

You’ve probably heard over and over again to simplify. The message is too long. The funnel is to long.
Overall, this is good advice.
HOWEVER, once you really understand the “seeking and wanting” hormone, your path can actually be quite long, so long as it keeps triggering curiosity and gives information in small bits and pieces, if it gives anything until it offers the solution.
Ever seen an ugly landing page that was all text that you ended up reading despite yourself?
Really awesome copy writers understand how to use this tactic in writing to move you through the process.
Interestingly enough, the more time you spend on something, the more committed you are.
So long copy, long funnels, they have a purpose and in the right situation, the right circumstance, the right audience, they work.

In A Nutshell:

Here it is in a nutshell, for fast and motivational results: trigger the wanting and seeking hormone.
Make your audience curious.
Lead them down a path that satisfies in bits and pieces.
Experiment with what triggers curiosity in your audience, experiment with the strength of their curiosity with funnel length.
Triggering the “wanting and seeking” hormone is the very premise behind free information in content marketing and the internet in general.

The Pursuit of Pleasure Captivation Motivation is tied closely to how we internalize rewards as well. The next post in this series will be all about rewards, the kinds used in promotions, so stay tuned.

 

About the Captivation Motivations:

The Captivation Motivations are all built around what I call our “other 90%” of our brain. The part of our brain that is the oldest and most developed part of our brain.

I didn’t make up the Captivation Motivations, I’ve been studying them and their effects since 2009.  I’ve been testing them in my strategies and tactics, reading and writing about them.
Simply put, these motivations are not some flash-in-the-pan-do-what’s-trendy-now strategy, these are strategies which trigger reactions from the oldest part of our brain.  Over the last few years, more and more has been understood about these motivations. But one thing is clear: despite the fact that these motivations developed in the earliest days of humanity’s survival of the fittest experiences, these motivations are very much alive and well today. What triggers them in the modern world is just different than what triggered them in our earliest evolutionary days.

 

PS: If you’re really interested in this topic, I suggest you read some of the academic works by Kent Berridge; he’s done some really amazing research on the topic.

The Communication Strategy Everyone Will Thank You For.

We’re inundated with messages every day. As communicators, it’s up to us to have  some empathy for our audience, whether that audience is the press, an employee, a customer, or an investor.

Yet, this single communications strategy I’m about to share with you is so simple, so basic, you’ll wonder why you’re not doing it already.

Before we go any further, let me ask you, which would you rather be:

A product or a movement
A cause or a movement?
An idea or a movement?

If you don’t care, I’ll save you-you can stop reading right now.
If you want to be a movement, it’s time to re-frame your thinking.
If you’re going to have a movement that matters, you’re going to need people to get on your side.
PEOPLE.
Not Twitter accounts, not Instagram followers, not Facebook likes.
These are vanity metrics that provide little insight into the passion and interest people have in your brand, product, or personality.

Are You Really Ready?

If you’re ready, you’ll re-frame your thinking.
If you re-frame your thinking, it will change everything.

So get ready…
The world is crowded now with communicators, marketers, messengers, and “me, me, me.”
Some days it’s soul-sucking.
It’s why everyone who uses social networking says brands ruin everything.
And yet…people WANT to receive messages, they just want messages tailored to them.
One of the reasons digital marketing is so powerful is that it creates a give and take in the relationship.
It provides an opportunity for the customer, the reader to think about their favorite subject for a moment: them.
But here’s the rub:
It takes strategy, focus and creativity to create content that your consumer wants to see.

So, please.
As you review your communication goals and communication strategy, stop for one moment and think about the reader, whether they’re a customer, a client, an investor, or an internal employee.
Make it about them.
That single phrase is the one thing so many brand communicators ignore.
Why? Because it takes serious work to “Make it about them.”
It means getting serious about audience identification.
It means getting serious about your brand, it’s voice and how it relates to the audience.
It means diving in on messaging and strategic choices in advertising.
It means actually creating a relationship and even (GASP) an in-person relationship with your customer or client.
It means, communication and branding for the long haul,  not some flash-in-the-pan-make-it-go-viral-I-need-some-vanity-numbers-now kind of campaign.

And while we’re thinking about it, let’s consider language and what it says about our strategy.
If you’re saying you’ll “use influencers,” do you think you’re thinking about it from the “All About Them” standpoint?
If you’re talking about how you’ll “promote”  your message, event, or idea, does that sound like you’re getting ready to make it interesting to others?
If you’re talking to a PR agency, a strategist or a social media consultant who is using words like “promote” and “use” you really must ask yourself if you’ll have an opportunity for a customer relationship.

I still see and hear this language every day on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, everywhere.
It’s gotten to where my eyes glaze over.
Guess what?  So does everyone else’s.

Let’s step it up, together.
We can do this.
We can make what you have to say interesting and relevant to the right people at the right time.

Now What?

Here’s my communication strategy challenge to you.
Go check your last 10 social posts.
See how many times you used the words “we, us, or I.”

How much of your content was about the consumer?
How much of your content was strategically shared to reinforce or create relationships?
Is there anything there that would make someone curious?
Is there anything at ALL that makes people feel ANYTHING?

How do YOU make people feel?
If you make them feel ANYTHING you’re miles ahead.
If you make them feel stronger, smarter, special, you’re really hitting on something.
If you made them terrified, scared, outraged, you’re really hitting on something.

People rarely forget how you made them feel.
But YOU’RE utterly forgettable when you make them feel nothing.
Digital branding and marketing is a long game, with peaks at appropriate times.
But always it surrounds emotion.

Regardless of the movement you’re trying to start, start with the idea that “you” are not necessarily interesting.
What’s interesting to people is what they do with “you.”
How you make them laugh or think.
How you make their lives easier, better, or richer.

Here’s another reason to re-frame your thinking: it takes discipline and thought to create content that makes people pause.
That’s why so few marketers do it.
So while everyone else is “zigging” go ahead and “zag.” and watch how it changes the way people respond to your brand or product.

That is all.

This week, with the Dave and Busters “Juan” tweet yet another social media gaffe made it’s what into the collective conversation. It sparked furious cries of racism. It sparked snickers. It sparked the “holier than thou” media to earn mega points for traffic.

Imagine for a moment, the alternative tweet: “I hate tacos” said no one ever. #tacotuesday.

Imagine what THAT would have caused: crickets.

Which of those  two messages was more brand consistent, more interesting, more compelling and took more courage?

Branding is like getting a tattoo: it takes guts and commitment.

Tweet: Branding is like getting a tattoo: it takes guts and commitment.

This is why brands and businesses must be crystal clear on who they are, what they stand for and who their target customer is. I’m not suggesting that every brand and business rush to the edge of every cultural controversy and insensitivity in order to create some reaction to their message. But in order to make it interesting they HAVE to know where the line is on risk taking. Brands and businesses have to accept that people who AREN’T their customers aren’t going to “get” it and they have to stand with their customers who DO.  If you insist on completely bland copy, messaging and creative, you will get some bland results.

Tweet: If you insist on completely bland copy, messaging and creative, you will get some bland results.

Tweet: Brands and businesses have to stand with their customers who DO “get it”.

I’m actually disappointed Dave and Busters didn’t fire back to the haters with another pun. Dave and Busters is a GAMING VENUE for grown ups. It isn’t a financial company, it isn’t a children’s nonprofit, it isn’t a government agency, it isn’t a church. It’s supposed to be FUN. Taco Tuesdays are supposed to be FUN. I don’t know about you – but I could use a little fun in my tweet stream.

So here’s where we’re at with a collective lack of spine in the social, marketing and advertising world: be creative, be dynamic, create conversation and excitement, but DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TAKE RISKS. Does the marketing and advertising world really want to be known as the analysis paralysis industry whose signature color is beige?

Tweet: Does the marketing and advertising world really want to be known as the analysis paralysis industry whose signature color is beige?

Yes, let’s think through things. Yes, let’s consider context. But let’s stop freaking out the minute someone with 2,000 followers takes issue with an edgy statement. Let’s understand our brands, their purpose, their customers and values and let’s stand by those values even when everyone else doesn’t get it. It’s OK. If you’re brand is truly defined, not everyone will.

Yes, the pain of nasty-gram tweets and email is piercing, they don’t last forever, in fact, in most cases, those very same people are off on an entirely different tangent tomorrow.  Being a wishy washy brand isn’t good for anyone, except dish soap – and those consequences are far longer reaching.

Tweet: Being a wishy washy brand isn’t good for anyone, except dish soap – and those consequences are far longer reaching.
Stand tall. Take smart risks. Stand by your customers. Have some brand confidence. Stand by your brand.

Bet your starting to think about next year’s social media marketing plan. And as importantly, where will social media marketing fall into the mix? Will there be more? Less? The latest Advertising Trust report from Neilsen may offer some insights to help you in your planning process.

One of the strongest reasons to increase your social media is the the number one source of consumer trust and action isRecommendations from people I know”.  Trust and action are often hand in hand, and we can’t discount the value of trust, but its also hard to measure. However, what creates trust and what creates action can be different. For example, consumers report that humorous ads resonate most with them. We know that humor is a powerful tool, especially in social media. It might be more powerful than cats, dare I say <GASP>. However, humor is rarely what makes people take ACTION.

The action taking piece is the one I’m always most interested in looking at more closely. And its really no surprise that word of mouth leads the pack. Ads on social networks have a lower trust score than they do action score. That’s actually true for several advertising types. With respect to social media, there are two key take aways:
1)  Use social to build trust and be very aware of what motivations exist for taking action.
2) The power of your tribe: when they share what you’ve got, its a more credible source. So be very aware of what and why people share on social. Tribes deeply impact our actions.

Now, the challenge with a report like this is that these results are all self-reported. The challenge with self-reporting is that people don’t always really know why they do what they do. I know, YOU always know why you do what you do. Or do you? Your motivations may not always be clear even to you. That’s why I started Captivation Motivation Training. 

Just remember, what type of message you use impacts trust and action. Decide what you’re trying to establish in every single post. Be purposeful in your social media practice and you’ll find that you can actually be more human.

Thanks for reading

 

 

 

PS: If you’d like to download the Neilsen Report for yourself: click here

Listen up: Going viral is a benefit to creating great content, not the goal.

But if you’re really committed to creating a viral video marketing campaign:

Creating viral content is this easy.
And this difficult.
Here’s my fool-proof 3-step process.

Create content that strikes an emotional cord (funny, sad, inspirational) and is distinctly unique and you’re one step closer to viral. 
Create content that tells a story, not a tagline and you’re one step closer to viral. 
If your branding it, make the product part of the story, not THE story. 
Not all that helpful, right? Truly the devil is in the details. Storytelling. More art than science. That’s why there is no Einstein-esque formula for viral. If only “viral” were as simple as math. It takes time to create and make a story. Song writers, ad professionals, photographers, marketers, movie makers, writers, videographers, graphic designers. We’re all storytellers. And once in awhile a storyteller also gets lucky. And viral happens. Think of all the stories out there today. Not too many go viral, but does that make them not worth making? Of course not.

So, in honor of The Story, let me tell you one. About 4 years ago, I talked with Judson Laipply, whose own viral video 2006 “Evolution of Dance” received 70 million views in under 8 months. At the time it was the #1 most viewed video of all time on YouTube (waaay before Gangam Style). Judson’s performance tells a great story in an entertaining, unique way. When I asked him about his own viral video, he said that he put it up on YouTube as a fluke, that in fact, someone in the audience recorded it and sent it to him. Judson was as surprised as anyone at the response, he wasn’t already famous (like some other viral video creators)  and he didn’t have a huge social media following at the time.  Since then, he’s done several follow-ups but none so successful as the original. Today, Judson is a working motivational speaker. The point is, completely of the moment? Yep. Complete accident? Yep. Repeatable? Probably not. With all due respect to Judson, we’ve all been there, and done that.

It’s pretty rare that branded material go viral. If you look at the most popular YouTube videos of all time (YouTube Charts), not a single one is a branded video. Almost all of them are music videos (YouTube being to this generation what MTV was

viral, branding, video,

Bloomberg Businessweek 6/14/2012

to mine). Coincidence? No.  Does that mean that branded content can’t still be powerful? No. Check out the videos in particular categories. The all-time #1 video in the auto & vehicles segment is a COMMERCIAL. The Volkswagen/Darth Vadar commercial that originally aired during the Superbowl 2011 (you don’t even have to go find it do you? You remember it). Notably, none of the other Superbowl ads from that year or this year can claim the number one spot in any category. There were some great branded viral videos in 2012, my personal favorite was the Dollar Shave Club, which was appears deceptively simple, but once you break it down you realize its the product of a lot of talent and planning.

There is a theme here: either viral is completely planned, thought out and scripted or its completely of the moment, off-the-cuff. One is time consuming, expensive and lucky and one is JUST lucky.  Which are you? 

So go forth, my marketing compadres. Create amazing content in whatever medium you wish. Please. But create amazing content because its the right thing to do if your going to create content at all. Because by creating content, you’re saying something about your brand…whether 1,000 people see it or 1 Billion people see it. Create the best, most memorable content you can create. And move on. And remember, sometimes its about quality over quantity.

 Header Image: Creative Commons Karl Jonsson