Marketing Secrets Of A Class Clown

Marketing Secrets Of A Class Clown

Marketing Secrets Of a​ Class Clown
Creating a​ strong brand and establishing a​ leadership position in​ the​ marketplace is​ one of​ a​ franchisor’s greatest obligations .​
Most franchise companies,​ at​ least when they’re getting started,​ have underwhelming ad budgets with which to​ do this .​
Too often,​ they take a​ cautious marketing approach,​ wary of​ making a​ mistake .​
They end up taking the​ most obvious,​ logical course,​ and become indistinguishable from the​ rest of​ the​ pack .​
Those who create break-through brands are rule-breakers .​
They understand the​ power of​ a​ bold idea,​ undiluted .​
Though they may have been A-students,​ they know the​ Marketing Secrets of​ the​ Class Clown (MSCC).
Here’s how I​ learned the​ MSCC .​
I​ was class clown laureate of​ Sacred Heart Grammar School and,​ later,​ a​ clown-in-residence while attaining my highly prized Masters degree in​ Fiction Writing .​
I​ proceeded,​ to​ the​ continued delight of​ my parents,​ to​ become a​ banjo-playing street musician,​ appearing outside of​ some of​ Chicago’s finest venues .​
Street music was actually the​ best possible preparation for my career as​ a​ marketing and brand development guru .​
When your business model includes giving away your product away for free,​ then convincing your customers they should pay you​ for it​ anyway,​ you​ learn to​ engage and delight quickly,​ or​ else .​
Sometimes it​ takes a​ village (idiot)
A couple of​ decades ago,​ in​ the​ mystical land of​ Ohio,​ I​ registered for a​ banjo contest at​ an​ upcoming festival .​
I​ regretted it​ as​ soon as​ I​ arrived .​
There was a​ sea of​ spectators,​ most looking (intentionally or​ unintentionally) like civil war reenactors .​
There were literally dozens of​ A-student banjo-playing competitors,​ all joined by the​ common bond of​ being at​ least twice as​ good as​ me .​
Halfway through the​ competition,​ the​ emcee called my name and I​ climbed reluctantly onto the​ stage,​ clad in​ a​ derby hat,​ paisley pants and rainbow suspenders .​
the​ reenactors started to​ chuckle .​
the​ emcee asked me how many banjo contests I​ had been in​ .​

Including this one? I​ asked.
Yes,​ including this one,​ he said.
I thought hard for a​ few moments,​ then answered,​ One.
The crowd broke into such uproarious laughter that it​ frightened me .​
They kept laughing and laughing,​ like this was the​ funniest joke they had ever heard .​
Sizing up the​ situation,​ I​ ditched the​ difficult tune I​ planned to​ play,​ and launched into my comic Schizophrenic Dueling Banjos,​ in​ which I​ frenetically play both parts of​ the​ famous tune .​

The applause was thunderous .​
I​ took a​ technically undeserved 3rd place out of​ about 40,​ and was a​ celebrity for the​ rest of​ the​ day .​
Among the​ serious banjoists there was a​ great wailing and gnashing of​ teeth .​
a​ class clown had beaten the​ A-students.
It was an​ important marketing revelation for me .​
All the​ serious,​ technically proficient competitors were all playing the​ same tunes .​
They were all trying so hard to​ do what they were supposed to,​ trying so hard not to​ make a​ mistake,​ that they became indistinguishable from one another .​
the​ crowd wasn’t there for technical proficiency: they wanted some fun on​ a​ Sunday afternoon .​
Some personality .​
Some entertainment .​
Some relief.
Send in​ the​ clowns
In the​ late 70s,​ before my freshman year in​ college,​ we all had to​ submit pictures to​ the​ frosh publication the​ New Student Record .​
Every guy sent his coolest picture,​ the​ one where he’s leaning against the​ fake birch tree,​ his puka shell necklace visible from his open shirt .​
the​ idea,​ you​ see,​ was to​ get chicks .​
I​ felt so pathetic as​ I​ looked through my pictures that I​ took a​ quick shot of​ myself wearing a​ Groucho Marx nose & glasses,​ and sent it​ in​ .​
When the​ NSR was published,​ I​ was flooded with calls from people who wanted to​ meet me .​
in​ fact,​ every time I’ve risked looking exceedingly stupid,​ I’ve been rewarded in​ some way.
The point is​ not that humor is​ the​ appropriate approach to​ every ad campaign .​
It’s not .​
But nonconformity usually is​ .​
Your goal is​ to​ engage interest .​
to​ stand out .​
to​ distinguish yourself from the​ pack .​
When it​ comes to​ CFO,​ hire the​ A-student .​
But when it​ comes to​ calling attention to​ yourself,​ you​ need the​ guy who sat in​ the​ back row .​
in​ the​ big classroom microcosm of​ the​ business world,​ you​ need to​ hire the​ class clown,​ and let him or​ her go to​ work.
In fact,​ I’ll wager you​ this: next time you​ see a​ really great ad or​ commercial,​ one worth talking about later,​ it​ was created by a​ class clowns working for A-students who understand that caution can be the​ most reckless approach of​ all.

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