Welcome to Marketing Monday, where I give you tips and tricks for being your own content marketer. This week’s post is all about why you should avoid trying to fool your audience.
I hate April Fool’s Day.
I’m not a prankster, so I can never think of any good pranks to pull, and I’m a very trusting person, so I tend to fall for even the most obvious pranks. The result is I end up feeling stupid and so I tend to avoid the internet on this day, the unholiest of days.
If you are one of those people who enjoys pulling pranks, I have a few reasons you should keep them out of your content marketing.
1) It Doesn’t Build Trust
One of the primary goals of content marketing is to build trust with your audience. They need to know who you are and to like you before they’ll give you their money, and if you use precious online space to prank your audience, you could end up sabotaging the goals of your content marketing efforts by making them feel stupid. No one likes to feel stupid, and if they associate your brand with that negative feeling of their own lack of intelligence, they’re not likely to continue following your brand, much less buying from you.
2) It Doesn’t Build Authenticity
The more we interact online, the more important authenticity becomes, and guess what pranks are? The opposite of authentic. If you become known for pranking your audience, your brand will develop a reputation as being inauthentic and unreliable, which will only hurt your business.
3) Know Your Audience
As much as a dislike April Fool’s Day, I know there are plenty of people out there who love it. George Clooney is famous for pranking his costars at least once per movie and people still like working with him (admittedly his incredible good looks, acting chops, and plenty of experience might have something to do with it). So, if you know your audience is made up of the type of people who not only don’t mind getting pranked, but actually enjoy it and appreciate a brand that shares their sense of humor, then go for it. Just be very careful because you can easily end up losing the potential business (and referrals) of anyone who doesn’t appreciate getting pranked.
That said, marketing is at its best when it’s aimed towards a specific audience. The goal for most marketers should be to target a specific, niche audience and build from there, so if part of what defines your target audience is their sense of humor and appreciation of the occasional good prank, then feel free to prank away.
4) Word of Mouth
One of the biggest benefits to pranking your audience is that it generates buzz for your brand. I don’t think that’s always a good thing, but there’s an argument to be made for building recognition and word of mouth marketing before convincing people they want to buy from you. IHOP last year ran a marketing campaign saying they were changing their name to IHOB, only to reveal later that no such change was happening. It was a giant prank they played on the internet, and while it’s the kind of thing I would never advise or advocate, I can’t deny that it got people talking, and the whole thing has marketers everywhere debating whether it was a genius marketing move or a giant flop. Whether it successfully managed to convert that word of mouth into sales, only IHOP could say. The company decided to announce that the campaign was a success, but if you decide to follow in their footsteps, be sure to keep track of whatever effect the campaign has on your sales.
What do you think. Does your brand prank its audience every April 1st? Let me know if you’ve had any success with it.
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