I hate Marmite. I can’t stand the smell, let alone the taste. If I have to make Marmite on toast for my daughter, I hold my breath so I don’t smell the fumes. My hubby and daughter? They LOVE it. They ask for Marmite chocolate for Christmas every year *bork* then come over and breathe on me because they know it turns me green. Marmite is something that splits a population. As the saying goes, you either love it or hate it – can you imagine a brand SO strong that your brand name gets used in common parlance? Talk about amazing marketing!
And yet having a strong, distinctive offering like Marmite takes some guts.
You know before you start that half the population is going to hate your stuff. That’s enough to make any business owner quake in their boots and it’s why most of us avoid any Marmite type offerings and opt for a vanilla flavour to all of our products & services. Vanilla doesn’t offend anyone. Vanilla is plain. Vanilla isn’t emotion-provoking. Vanilla is safe. People won’t LOVE it or HATE it, they’ll all be OK with it. Hmmm.
Leave Vanilla For Your Icecream
The trouble is, Vanilla isn’t memorable and it certainly won’t stand out in a crowd. It will blend in with all the other Vanilla offerings of your competitors. It won’t attract passionate, loyal fans as they can find Vanilla anywhere, so why come to you? Which is why I’m urging you to ditch vanilla! Because it’s safe and inoffensive and will please most people without making them sit up and go ‘WOW!’
I bet that at least one, if not more of your products and services are vanilla. Safe. Boring. Designed to appeal to as many people as possible, inoffensive and a bit ‘meh’. Your approach to marketing is probably vanilla. Safe. Boring. Designed to appeal to as many people as possible, inoffensive and a bit ‘meh’. Do you see a pattern here?
Don’t get me wrong, I understand why you’ve done it.
You think that by appealing to as many people as possible, you’ll make more money. But you’re wrong. When we start out in business we want customers. ANY customers. So we go all out with our Vanilla marketing, right down the middle of the road trying to attract anyone at all who might buy. And before long we have bad-fit customers, we have no customer loyalty, we end up in price competitions with our competitors because, let’s face it no-one can tell the difference between you (you’re both Vanilla) so it HAS TO come down to price.
Boring, inoffensive Vanilla-ish products don’t speak to anyone. They aren’t memorable. They don’t make people say ‘OMG she’s talking to me, I NEED her!’ when they read your marketing. They don’t inspire anyone. No-one talks about them. Vanilla is boring.
Marmite businesses self-filter.
They inspire people who ADORE them. The people who aren’t a good fit don’t even bother to look. You only attract those people who love what you do. And you don’t even bother with the rest, you don’t need to. You won’t waste money marketing to people who are never going to buy. You won’t blend in. You’ll be memorable.
I’d rather be Marmite. I’d rather be a ‘love it or loathe it’ type of business, because that’s when magic starts to happen. Maybe not so extreme – I don’t REALLY want haters, because that’s not an emotion I want to bring out in anyone but I’d rather be the type of business that people either immediately GET and ‘click with’ or they don’t.
How do you add Marmite to your business?
Well, you need to BE YOU. In technicolour. That’s the simplest, best way to stand out and let people self-filter.
Look at my business – I’m from North East England. I have a pretty strong accent. I have wild, curly hair that never behaves on videos. I have had business failures and made loads of mistakes along the way and I talk about them. I’m straight talking and tell it like it is. I’m a mum, raising my 6 year old while running my business. I’m passionate about marketing. I’m a bit of a Marmite business – some people can’t stand me! And that’s great, because for every person who feels that way, I have another who really enjoys my approach. So I talk to them!
So, lovely lady. I challenge you to add a little Marmite to your business today.
Here are some ways you can do it:
1. Stop using ‘professional’ speak in your marketing. Be you. Talk as you really talk. Let your personality shine through.
2. Go against the grain. If everyone else in your sector does things a certain way, do the opposite!
3. Talk to ONE type of person in your business. Stop trying to please everyone. Figure out who is most likely to buy from you, who will be passionate about your stuff and market to THEM. Whether it huffs or pleases the rest. Don’t try to be everything to everyone – think Marmite!
So, are you going to be brave? How are you going to Marmite your business? Let me know in the comments, I can’t wait to hear from you!
Love, Claire xx
Claire Mitchell is a best-selling author of the Awesome Marketing Planner and founder of The Girls Mean Business, a mum and business owner. She has been featured in Marie-Claire, The Guardian, Closer Magazine, Essentials, The Huffington Post and on the BBC.