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Sarah Wickman

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What SNL Can Teach Marketers

Well friends, we're coming up on Saturday Night Live's 40th Anniversary this weekend, and ohhhhh myyyyyy goooood, I'm so freakin' excited. I have been a complete SNL nerd most of my life and tend to believe that most of life's problems can be solved with a binge of favorite skits. So what can TV's most beloved sketch comedy show teach us about marketing? Have Character SNL is filled with incredible characters. The sketches and the show itself have a very distinct personality ' intelligent, goofy, and of course, funny. That character comes to life in many ways, but it's always present. A challenge that all marketers face is holding onto a strong sense of who your brand is. Truly sticking to that brand identity and having it be present at every touchpoint is not an easy thing to do. But the brands that are doing well are ones that have decided to be who they are at every turn. If you're nerdy, be nerdy. If you're quirky, be quirky. If you're sappy, be sappy. Just like people, there can and should be different facets to that identity, but it should maintain consistency while showing dimension. A brand that has shown up in a big way recently with a strong sense of their voice is Newcastle Brown Ale ' they're British, clever and irreverent to a tee. To contrast, Nationwide appeared in the Super Bowl with Mindy & Matt in one of the funniest spots of the night and then gave us all whiplash with the very dark dead kid spot. Know When to Quit In every episode of SNL, there are returning favorites and brand new sketches. When a sketch works and has legs, they bring those characters back in new settings to capture more of the love the audience already has for them. And sometimes a sketch just doesn't connect ' the audience is quiet, and for a moment, things get a little uncomfortable. And a minute later, a new sketch begins, and we forget about the stinker. My years in advertising have allowed me to work within many industries and with clients. I've had a client who was tired of the creative before it launched. I've had a client who wanted to stick with a concept years after it had begun, terrified to try anything new. Some ideas can and should have a long life ' the ones that work and have legs to continue. (Be honest, how many Celebrity Jeopardy skits could you watch?) And some ideas just don't work as well as we'd hoped, and when that happens, we need to let them go and move onto the next idea. Go For It If there's one thing to be said for SNL (and we know there are many more), it's that they commit. They push boundaries, they take risks, they take each sketch all the way. It can be risky, but it pays off. How wrong could the Beck Bennett-Kyle Mooney 90s sitcom sketches have gone, and how weirdly amazing did they end up? After many iterations of a concept and endless rounds of review with dozens of clients, ideas can become watered down. That's not to say feedback isn't important ' it certainly is ' but with too many cooks in the kitchen and primary, secondary and tertiary objectives to accomplish, a once-great concept can become lost. Tempering an idea to be safer doesn't just soften it, it often kills it. When the work is at a strong point, we need to know when to stop fussing with it and let it go. That requires strong-willed folks to channel their inner Mary Katherine Gallagher and fight to keep the idea whole. And live from New York, it's Saturday Night! (Just always wanted to do that.)

Going Native

You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks digital is overrated or unnecessary anymore, and in the next few years, we'll be saying that about native advertising. Native advertising is any type of branded content that appears in line and matches the organic content that surrounds it, allowing brands to interact with consumers in a natural setting ' to be part of the conversation rather than interrupting it. It's really at the core of a shift in how people think about brands: Is this brand valuable to me if I buy their product/service? vs. Is this brand valuable to me? Some, including Mashable, argue that the biggest driver of native advertising was the creation and proliferation of the feed. Remember when Facebook launched the News Feed in 2006 and people completely freaked out about it? Eight years later, that's my first and often only stop on the platform. Twitter, Buzzfeed, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn ' all feed-based. This is how users are now digesting and interacting with content, and therefore this is where advertisers need to be. Native advertising can come in many different forms, and IAB does a great job of breaking them out for us according to the following criteria: Many of the different types aren't necessarily what come to mind when we think of native ' things like paid search and promoted listings. It's something for all of us as marketers to really consider ' brands are already likely engaged in some of these, which are not only established but essentially required. So it's not such a leap to dive into some of the more custom, interactive and even user-generated types of native ads. In fact, this may be the key to help educate clients about some of the more custom native ad opportunities. Working in new channels is always a challenge, especially when success can be difficult to nail down, but the value is clear, even if measuring success may not be. And not to get all 'Purchase Funnel'? with you guys, but when brands are looking to achieve awareness and consideration among their target consumers, that's where I believe native is a clear choice. In a relatively cost-effective way, brands can show personality. Not every brand has a Geico-sized marketing budget to achieve these things via TV spots. In my opinion, the most exciting part is the creativity that native invites. It gives brands permission to poke fun of themselves, to make themselves the heroes, and do it all with a focus on the consumer. Good content is good content. Consumers are hungry for it, and when brands provide it, they can reap the benefits. According to HubShout, 72.8% of consumers find equal or more value in sponsored articles compared to non-sponsored articles, which speaks volumes about the ability to build trust with consumers through relevant, useful content. When consumers see a brand as generous, as a brand that offers value to them, that positive connection is immensely valuable. Native advertising invites an exciting opportunity for brands and consumers ' let's take advantage of it.  

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