Creating Your Plan of Attract

Mud Pie Marketing: Getting Dirty In Your Campaign

To sling mud or not to sling mud in a marketing campaign. That is the question.

Competition. It’s what has been used as a measuring stick to bestow the title of victor on those who are stronger, faster and better. But what about those competitors who just sling mud and fight dirty (cough, anyone remember Elizabeth Lambert)? Can they truly be considered victors?

The proverb, ‘there is nothing new under the sun’, couldn’t hit closer to home for this topic. Mud-slinging in marketing and advertising didn’t just pop up on the scene recently; it’s been around for a looong time. From food and fashion to technology and politics, nearly every type of brand or industry has jumped on the negative campaigning bandwagon at some point. Which begs the question: If everyone’s doing it, it must be effective…right?
A: Yes. No. Perhaps. Depends. To a point. (vague much?)

Let’s cut to the chase – yes, mudslinging can work. Now, before you begin crafting the perfect marketing mud pie and adjusting the sight scope on your mudslinger to get your competition in its crosshairs, just wait. There’s a method to this madness. Without a well-executed strategy, your dirty little campaign can seriously backfire and leave you with nothing but mud on your own brand if you’re not careful. So, as you clamp down on the steering wheel, settle into the bus driver’s seat, and prepare to trample your competition keep this in mind:

Can you back it up?: No, not the bus, your claims. If you’re bashing “the other guy” without the cred or stats to back up your talk, you’re going to end up with nothing more than a bad reputation.

Make it a worthwhile argument: “Our store exterior is the only pastel one on the block. All the other stores are a drab gray.” Yes, this was an actual answer received from a client when asked what sets their store apart from their competition. Our reply? Who cares? Don’t wage a full on war with such weak ammunition. Stick to what makes your product, system or service better, and leave things like exterior retail store paint colors out of your argument. 

There is such a thing as too much mud: Yes, you can get too dirty. Watching the battles that have been brewing before, during and, now, after the elections is a prime example of this. It feels so awkward to  watch adults behave like children. Don’t make people feel awkward. Keep it classy.

Get your consumers off the fence with a ladder, not a pitchfork: If a consumer is dedicated to one brand over another, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to get them to switch simply by haranguing your competition (aka their fave brand) in your advertising. Perhaps that sort of thing will work on the undecided and the uninformed, but otherwise you’ve just jabbed their decision making capabilities with a pitchfork. Instead, get on their level by letting them know you understand why they would choose Company ABC over your company; then carefully guide them off the fence, onto your ladder, and over to your brand with info on how you can better serve them. This means you have to know what’s most important to them (your loyal followers will be able to help tell you what that is). Make that your focal point to sway those on the fence over to your side.

The Ping Pong Effect: You included a jab in your ad. They made sure to get a dig in theirs about your company. So, you put out a critical press release, which caused them to blast you on the radio. Now, you have to print a – Stop! There comes a point when you have to be the bigger brand and know when to move on. Turn the tables and counterattack…without an attack. Sometimes just sticking to your message, marketing to your strengths, and leaving the competition to fuss all by themselves is all it takes to raise your company’s image and profits. 

Like to see brands get down and dirty? Find the back and forth bickering a waste of time? Battle it out in the comments below and .share your clean or dirty tips for creating a plan of attract.

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