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When So Much Choice Means No Choice

March 19, 2019

stars in space singing around a huge sack of money superstars dominating Billboard Chart because of too much choice spaceman in flying saucer shining spotlight on smaller starI read a fascinating article by Jo Craven McGinty in the December 15-16 edition of the Wall Street Journal. It was titled: Superstars Are Hogging Billboard’s Hot 100.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Some excerpts:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Today, it’s not uncommon for the most popular performers to have 10 or more songs listed on the Hot 100 at one time… (and) the hits now include far more cameos by featured performers.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

In mid-July, all 25 cuts from Drake’s album “Scorpion” simultaneously made the chart. The Canadian singer and rapper also performed on two other songs for a record-breaking 27 Hot 100 hits in a single week.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

For decades, the Beatles held the record with 14 simultaneous hits, an achievement that now ranks 17th behind Drake and others.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

What does this have to do with marketing and brands? Here’s the relevant passage:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

The consulting company Media Insights & Decisions in Action has argued that… a “superstar artist economy” has evolved, ironically, because the overwhelming size of the digital music catalog has confused fans.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

“There is so much choice that there is effectively no choice at all,” the company reported in 2014, concluding that rather than broadening their tastes, the “tyranny of choice” has led consumers to retreat to familiar and easy-to-find music.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

You could rephrase that and say: “There’s so much noise, consumers fall back on the easy and familiar.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

And that’s the biggest challenge facing brands today– especially smaller brands.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

This phenomenon of superstar artists dominating the Hot 100 raises a couple of other points:blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Marketers and ad people believe the outside world cares about brands as much as they do. They’re wrong. Havas Global’s Meaningful Brands 2019 study found that nearly 80 percent of brands could vanish tomorrow and no one would care.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy in the UK, believes most brand choices are the result of convenience. Then, in order to justify of our choice, we decide we like that brand.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Having rationalized our choice it’s not easy to switch, because, as Seth Godin points out, any competing brand has to be “worth the fear and hassle and stress of switching for.”blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

What’s the main lesson here for brands?blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

First and foremost: you have to get noticed. In the words of Richard Shotton: “Prioritise being noticed above other goals. If you fail there, everything else is academic.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

There are basically two ways to get noticed. You can spend a fortune, buy Super Bowl ads, etc– but that’s not an option for most of us.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

The other way is to be different. Be distinctive. Mr. Shotton again:blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

“Your task is to identify the formulaic rules of behavior in your category and smash them. That way the spotlight will shine a bit more strongly on your brand…”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Two other thoughts if you’re a small brand, a local brand:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Consider collaborating with another brand so you can cross-promote each other. An easy example: a local restaurant and a theater. The restaurant could offer a special for people attending a particular show, the theater could give the restaurant a free ad in its program.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Another: a band could explore opening for a bigger act, or help organize a local music festival. It’s a matter of considering possibilities and getting creative.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Last thought: a smaller brand needs testimonials and recommendations. You can’t beat word-of-mouth. You hear a lot about influencers these days, but marketing expert Jay Baer makes a telling point:blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 16 pixels high

“Advocacy is driven by the depth of conviction, and influencers typically are less committed to the product or company than are actual customer advocates.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Smaller brands need customer advocates: satisfied customers who are happy to recommend them. I’m a perfect example. Satisfied customers give me credibility and prestige. That’s why I have a Testimonials Page.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

We can’t all be superstars dominating the “Hot 100” in our brand category. But we can choose to be different and make every effort to conjure up a spotlight and get noticed.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

detail image: stars in space singing around a huge sack of money superstars dominating Billboard Chart because of too much choice spaceman in flying saucer shining spotlight on smaller star

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About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, branding, social media, and content marketing. My images are different, like your brand needs to be.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Doug Busk, VP Communications, Emory U. former Global Group Director Social Media at Coca-Col

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