J.Lo had a series of hysterical sketches, but one that stood out was her spoof of the boutique fitness gym, Barry’s Bootcamp. The sketch mocks Barry’s over-the-top trainers and their lofty motivational speeches. Of course, my favorite part is at 3:38 when J.Lo quotes Britney Spe— oops, I mean, Mother Teresa.
But this isn’t the only time the gang at SNL have parodied a fitness brand. Back in October, they satirized SoulCycle’s intense instructor auditions.
My favorite parodies, however, are the ones that draw laughter in the midst of controversy. In an incredibly swift move, Ryan Reynolds poked fun at the Peloton ad backlash by recruiting “Peloton Wife” in a commercial for his company, Aviation Gin. She clearly needed to throw back a glass or two after an exhausting week of ridicule.
I had the chance to chat with Sean Hunter, the infamous “Peloton Husband”. Even he understands how important it is to to laugh things off:
I’ve been making light of it by cracking a few jokes (see my Instagram post about waiting up for Peloton wife!) and I’ve been receiving a lot of support and love. The parodies have been funny but with that people are still saying a few hurtful things! The most important thing is to stay confident in who you are and know what’s right! Just brush that negativity off your shoulder when people are trying to get a rise out of you for no reason!
Why Mockery is the Best Kind of Marketing
More often than not, if your brand is being mocked or parodied, you’re doing something right. In fact, I consider it to be a key indicator of brand marketing success.
Here is the upside to to your brand being the butt of the joke:
It boosts your brand awareness. Free media? Yes, please! A viral parody or branded meme is one of the best forms of earned media (and flattery!). From social media mentions to press coverage, brands should count their lucky stars for any impressions that don’t have to come out of your marketing budget.
It demonstrates strong brand equity. Your brand equity speaks to how your product is perceived by your audience. If you present a consistent brand over time, your audience will choose you over your competitors because they know what to expect. When your brand is parodied, you’ve established so much consistency that even outsiders can articulate (and sensationalize) what makes you, you. The humor aligns with the customer perceptions all over the world.
It unites your audience. If a parody really hits the mark, your audience will relate to it, and relatable content gets shared. Isn’t it way more fun to have a laugh over a piece of content that someone else understands than to cackle alone on your couch? A little friendly roasting spotlights your company culture while bringing your audience even closer to the brand.
So the next time SNL or Twitter trolls are throwing sticks and stones at your brand, take it in stride. Unless you have a serious scandal on your hands, it’s usually in good fun. Your sales numbers will prove it.
Are you struggling to build a relationship with your customers? Sign up for my free empathy map template below so to help understand what messages will resonate most!
The past few years, I’ve gotten into a pretty established TV-watching routine. Like clockwork, every weekday night you can find me on my couch watching Jeopardy! Yes, I’ve officially become my grandmother.
Yet, on the other end of the spectrum, I have some guilty pleasures. Depending on the season, on Mondays I’ll watch The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, or Bachelor in Paradise. I also have a soft spot for Dancing with Stars: my grandmother’s true favorite.
But Tuesday nights are reserved for This Is Us.
Because I grew up worshipping all the teen queens like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Jessica Simpson, part of me wanted to watchThis Is Us to keep up with Mandy Moore. As you probably know, she plays one of the main characters, Rebecca Pearson.
Mandy captured my heart as an actress after seeing her in the 2002 film, A Walk To Remember, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel. Didn’t we all bawl our eyes out after that movie?
While on the subject of of crying, there’s something I wanted to address about This Is Us.
The show has been on for four seasons now, and through the years, it’s gotten a reputation as being depressing and sad. In fact, I’ve seen commentators at the Emmys or Golden Globes say they can’t even watch it because it makes them cry, which I kinda think is absurd.
Whether you heart can handle it or not, This Is Us is a work of art, especially since the writing is powerful enough to move people to tears.
In my opinion, it’s a phenomenon because of it’s deep and fearless storytelling. As marketers, we hear about how important storytelling is, and I think we can learn a lot about this from the success of This Is Us.
Every character, scene, and moment in This Is Us is part of a bigger story. It brilliantly takes us on a journey through the past and present, and tackles real life issues. I describe it as an emotional rollercoaster.
Here are some of the difficult topics that the show addresses:
The common theme about all of these topics is that they are uncomfortable, but they are REAL.
The #1 Mistake Brands Make When Storytelling
Too often, brands are afraid to take risks and talk about real stories. They hesitate because a topic may feel unpleasant or uncomfortable. Without this creative risk, their content ends up being mundane, unremarkable, and unmemorable.
If your messaging simply touts your product benefits or shares motivational platitudes, there’s no storyline to get behind. No character to root for through their challenge. No triumph to celebrate and applaud.
One of my favorite authors, Seth Godin says it best:
Being risky is safe, and being safe is risky.
As a company, person, or brand, don’t shy away from your stories, the good, the bad, and the ugly. They actually are your biggest opportunity.
The 4 Components of Great Storytelling
I just finished reading Stories That Stick by Kindra Hall. Kindra is a professional storyteller. and has made stories her life’s work. I’m so happy she wrote a book to share her wisdom with the world!
We always hear about how your brand should be doing storytelling, yet no one tells us how to do it right.
In my opinion, Kindra Hall is the first person to really add structure to storytelling. In her book, she shares a formula to help us get it right every time.
According to Kindra’s storytelling framework, a great story has these four components:
1. Identifiable Characters — Without characters, you’re just rambling on about products or services with no one for your audience to relate to
2. Authentic Emotions — This is what creates empathy between you as a brand and your listener. Kindra stresses that these emotions don’t have to be overly dramatic. It can simply be something like the daily frustration when deciding what to make for dinner, or nervousness about making the team.
3. A Significant Moment — Kindra says this is often where stories go wrong. Writers make the turning point of the story too broad, to the point where you can’t attach visuals to it.
For instance, speaking in general about the happiness a woman may feel from losing weight won’t stick. Instead paint a picture of her trying to lose weight for her high school reunion, and the euphoric moment when she tried on a smaller dress in a department store fitting room and it actually fit.
4. Specific Details — Details build connection. They go deeper into the story and help the audience resonate with the little things.
Perhaps the story about the woman in the example above mentions how she dances in front of the fitting room mirror, or how she gladly poses for a selfie in her dress to send to her best friend. These are small details, but they will charm your audience.
If you incorporate all of these elements in your stories, like the writers at This Is Us do, they will always hit the mark.
Yes, You Have Stories
A final reminder: stories are FREE. You, your company, and your customers inherently have stories.
So the next time you’re looking at where to allocate your marketing budget, don’t waste your time sending a mailer or placing an ad in the penny saver. Produce and tell a story. It will have a much bigger impact.
Be sure to check out Kindra Hall’s book, Stories That Stickfor more guidance on effective storytelling.
For once, Maury Povich isn’t the only one talking about DNA tests.
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard the anthem every woman has been singing all summer long: “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo. The song is so popular, it’s been sitting at #1 on the Billboard charts for three weeks in a row.
It’s everywhere — from sporting events, to commercials, to movies. “Truth Hurts” was even part of the opening scene for the Netflix original film, Someone Great. Yes, this is an accurate representation of how all women react when hearing it:
But “Truth Hurts” wasn’t an overnight success.
It turns out Lizzo dropped the single two years ago and it is just now being heard around the world. Here is one of her original tweets promoting it in September 2017:
If that’s not a reminder that hard work pays off, I don’t know what is!
As Lizzo continues to rise to superstar status, brands are joining the conversation and capitalizing on her hit single’s cultural relevance. Companies are filling in the blank to the notable lyrics,“I just took a DNA test turns out I’m 100% ________” on Twitter.
Everyone is taking DNA tests — from retail giants like Walmart and Target, to baseball teams, airlines, quick service restaurants, and more.
But my favorite tweet came from none other than Cookie Monster, whose DNA results revealed he’s 100% cookies. Lizzo and hundreds of fans chimed in to complete a hilarious cookie-inspired parody.
But Really, What is Your Brand’s DNA?
We know DNA as our genetic makeup — what makes us who we are. And while brands may not have chromosomes, they do have their own DNA. When brands define their DNA, it helps their audience understand them better.
Brand Purpose – WHY does the brand exist?
Brand Audience – WHO is the brand helping?
Vision – WHERE is your brand going?
Core Values – WHAT is important to the brand?
Brand Personality – HOW does the brand sound?
If you want your audience to love you, you have to understand what they love. And it turns out, right now, audiences everywhere love Lizzo.
When brands define who they are, develop their personality, and pinpoint a likable brand voice, they don’t need to sell, sell, sell. Simply becoming part of the conversation and having a pulse on pop culture, trends, and current events can win the hearts of your audience.
Your brand’s DNA will humanize your brand and bring your followers, fans, and customers closer.
In school, math was never really my thing (still isn’t!). I’ve always been the left-brained, creative type, which is how I got into content marketing. So don’t look to me to help you with the quadratic formula.
But one thing I did absorb about mathematical formulas is that they help you land on a desired outcome every time. They are tried and true, effective, proven. Formulas provide structure so you can plug and play until you get the right answer.
Creative endeavors, on the other hand, are not always black and white. When you’re writing, designing, or creating content for an audience, it’s subjective. There is no perfect formula.
Or is there?
Taking the Guesswork out of Content Marketing
In grade school, we’re taught that when we don’t know the answer, guess. I opted for that route countless times on standardized tests, but this didn’t add up for me in the real world.
As a content creator, I got tired of “guessing” what types of content would work. That’s a good way to waste time and money.
So, I looked for common denominators — things that I knew were 100% true when it comes to content marketing. What were the shared truths for both brands and their audiences?
Brands want awareness, recognition, and engagement.
Audiences want value.
That’s it. That’s all we know for certain, but it’s enough to apply a formula that results in content themes that are a win-win for both groups.
The Content Theme Formula
Content themes are the best way to add consistency to your content calendar. When you establish themes that reflect your brand, resonate with your audience, and align with your goals, all you have to do is post, and repeat. The repetitive theme, paired with tailored design elements, make your brand recognizable over time and keeps your audience coming back for more.
To create content themes on any marketing channel, follow this formula:
Content Bucket – This is the first part of the formula because your audience comes first. Your content bucket is how you will add value and ensure your content has a purpose that serves your fans.
As you develop content ideas, start by categorizing them into content buckets. When you approach your content with one of these buckets in mind, there’s always something in it for your audience.
Educational – teach me
Conversational – engage me
Promotional – entice me
Entertainment – captivate me
Inspirational – influence me
Connection – unite me with others
Content Type – What exactly will you be posting? Your content type speaks to the physical media you plan to publish. Media Types:
Blog or Article
Short-form text post
Ebook, Template, or Document
Brand Point of View: This part of the formula is the trickiest, but it’s also your secret ingredient. What special flare will you add to your content to differentiate it? This can speak to the visual aesthetic of the content, its story angle, how it sounds, how it’s structured, etc.
Your brand’s point of view is where you add an essential design rule or element that makes your content yours. And when it’s unique and repeated over time, you become unmistakable to your audience. You can implement this point of view as part of a seasonal campaign, or an everlasting brand staple.
The Content Marketing Formula in Action!
Of course, the best way to learn and retain something is to see it in practice. I’m sharing some examples from a brand that I think gets the content formula — SoulCycle. As shown by the content types I shared above, you can apply the content formula beyond social media, but I’m primarily focusing on SoulCycle’s Instagram posts.
Before we dive in, let’s establish SoulCycle’s color palette. They use white and yellow with touches of black and gray. They also use the timeless typeface, Helvetica, for all of their branding. You’ll notice how they extend these colors and font treatments to create refreshing content that still feels connected.
I love SoulCycle’s twist on inspirational posts with this content theme. Instead of posting overdone, motivational platitudes, they build community by sharing original quotes from their own instructors.
With this theme, SoulCycle found a refreshing way to inject humor and motivation into their feed. Rather than putting static text on a plain background, they delight their follows with eye-catching iPhone notification simulations.
There’s no better way to connect with your audience than to share content that is relatable. SoulCycle taps into this by leaning on authentic tweets and comments from their own members. Here is a content theme based on user-generated content (UGC).
Connection + Images + Heartfelt Letters from the CEO
SoulCycle has implemented many campaigns to unify their audience — I always look forward to their annual Pride campaign which champions diversity as one of their values. But SoulCycle also humanizes their brand by frequently sharing letters from their CEO, Melanie Whelan, on Instagram, their website, via email, etc. She writes to introduce campaigns, express gratitude for company milestones, celebrate holidays, and even address controversy.
Educational + Long-Form Blog Posts + 360 Degree Style
While you can definitely develop educational content on social media, a blog on your website is one of the most powerful ways to add value for your audience. SoulCycle’s blog is multi-dimensional with categories focused on inspiration, food, wellness, art, and style.
The SoulStyle section is my favorite, as they do not solely focus on promoting SoulCycle’s retail line. Rather than shouting promotions or push the hard sell, SoulCycle chooses to serve their audience. This blog category offers helpful advice on everything from seasonal fashion, skincare products, haircare, travel, and gift ideas.
Promotional + Short-Form Video + Animated New Studio Teasers
As SoulCycle expands, they build excitement on Instagram with animated teasers announcing their new studios coming soon. While they promote a new studio, they also serve as special shout-outs to cities and their residents and future members. These posts create camaraderie before they even open their doors.
Your Content Solution
A content marketing strategy is much easier to execute when you have a plan. Once you take the time to develop these themes using the content formula, they will become the gifts that keep on giving! They lay a foundation that fosters connection, brand awareness, and value, while also lending themselves to reinvention over time.
Start looking at brands you follow to see if you can identify their own application of the content formula. Then, try implementing it yourself!