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Method Marketing

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As agency creatives, the Bs know that inspiration can come at any time, from anywhere. For today's blog post, we're getting inspiration from a different, but equally creative field: the theatre. 

And, more specifically, from the concept of method acting.

It's 2018, so if you want to know more about method acting, your first stop may well be Wikipedia. We'll save you the trip; here's what you'll find: "Method Acting is a range of training and rehearsal techniques that seek to encourage sincere and emotionally expressive performances, as formulated by a number of different theatre practitioners, principally in the United States, where it is among the most popular — and controversial — approaches to acting."

IMDB, the Internet Movie Database (our favorite site when you need to convince someone that "No, Liam Neeson wasn't in Harry Potter; that was Ralph Fiennes") elaborates that "Method acting encourages actors to immerse themselves in the world of the characters they are playing, so that they can more accurately inhabit their roles. This can extend to some actors never breaking character until the last shot of the movie, even when the camera turns off."

If you go right to the source, however, the Lee Strasburg Theatre and Film Institute's website, debunks the fact that "Method acting is described as a form of acting where the actor mystically 'becomes' the character or tries to somehow literally live the character in life." It continues, "Like all clichés, both explanations are false. When Lee Strasberg defined what is popularly known as method acting, he used a simple declarative sentence: 'Method acting is what all actors have always done whenever they acted well.'"

With all due respect to Mr. Strasberg, B Direct would like to assert our own version of that: "Method marketing is what all marketers have always done whenever they've marketed well."

You can know your product inside and out, memorize its features and benefits, point to case studies, walk through an impressive ROI analysis. But, if you don't know your audience, if you don't "immerse yourself in their world" and "accurately inhabit their role," you're going to waste a lot of time and energy talking to yourself.

When we encourage copywriters and art directors to imagine walking in their audience's shoes, that's just the beginning. Imagining is important, but it isn't always as tangible or accurate as it might be. Depending on your assignment, timing and budget, there are some specific actions you can take that will help you "get into character."

Here's a baker's dozen to get you started ...

1. Meet the audience — Ask to speak to real customers or real prospects. Hear their stories, firsthand.

2. Read what they read — If you're marketing a B2B solution, browse the trades that your audience subscribes to.

3. Mystery shop your own product — Answer an ad or request a demo.

4. Mystery shop the competition — What are they doing different (or better)?

5. Visit the factory — Talk to the people who actually make the gadget you're marketing.

6. Sit with a sales rep — Or listen in on a telemarketer.

7. Create a detailed character study of your audience — Don't stop at demographics. What are their hopes? Dreams? Fears? What do they eat for breakfast? What's their favorite TV show?

8. Imagine the worst part of your audience's day — Can you make it better?

9. Imagine the best part of your audience's day — See question above.

10. Identify something they would value receiving — Can you think of something they can wear, share or proudly display?

11. Uncover their inner vision — In their heart or hearts, how do they picture themselves? A network manager or the white knight who saves the day?

12. Picture the audience as real people — Look for photos that represent them and hang one next to your computer as you write copy.

13. Surround yourself — Establish a "war room" and fill it with all the things that matter to your audience.

As direct marketers, we often debate what's most important to a program's success. Is it the list? The offer? Or the creative? In reality, it's something a bit more "mystical" (in the words of method acting) and it affects every decision you make. People want to be heard and understood; it's human nature. 

If you've done your homework and really know who you're marketing to, they will appreciate it. 

And, more importantly, they'll be far more receptive to your campaign.


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