It seems like every marketing-ish agency puts out a sweet little post dedicated to what-to-do or what not-to-do in the New Year. Naturally, I felt like I should probably write one of those as well and toss some worthwhile lessons out there to keep in mind for 2016.
That goal in mind, I sat innocently down to watch The Other Guys (again for the fifth time) the other night and like a truly marketing-obsessed person, I started sketching out marketing lessons exemplified so well by the movie.
If you’ve never seen the movie, you definitely should. It has Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell, Michael Keaton, Eva Mendes, ridiculous comedy and fun action. What else could you ever ask for in a movie?
And sure … I could pick a 2015 movie like the new Star Wars or the new James Bond to theme a post like this off of, but that would be far too predictable and already cliché, now wouldn’t it?
Basic Plot of The Other Guys
Here’s the spark notes of the movie:
- Mark Walhberg and Will Ferrell are both cops.
- They’re overshadowed by two crazy cop action heroes (Samuel L. Jackson and The Rock), and are thus called the Other Guys.
- Jackson and the Rock’s characters die in a blaze of glory (more on that in a minute), and thus, the roster opens up for some fresh new heroes. Mark Walhberg and Will Ferrell take the challenge.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive into some lessons you’ll want to keep in mind for your marketing communications in 2016.
And again, spoiler alert.
1.) Don’t “Aim for the Bushes” with Your Marketing Communications
So, as I mentioned earlier, Samuel L. Jackson and The Rock’s characters are the celebrated heroes at the beginning of the movie. They look good, they’re witty and they bring down the bad guys in glorious fashion.
Their undoing? They’re reckless and are just relying on their luck. They’re pursuing some bad guys to the roof of a building and have to chase them to the street.
How can they quickly get down there to keep up the chase? They look at each other, say “Aim for the bushes?” and jump off the roof. There are no bushes in sight, so it’s just another reckless move.
Yeah … It doesn’t end up so well for them.
So Many Companies Are “Aiming for the Bushes” with Their Marketing Communications Efforts
The truth of the matter is that too many companies are aiming for the bushes. They might’ve relied on some recklessness and blind luck in the past to score some marketing wins, but in the long run winging it will only take you so far.
For 2016, your marketing department might be looking at you, shrugging and saying that they’re going to aim for the bushes, but that won’t get you to where you want to be in 2016.
To get there, you need a clear plan.
If You Haven’t Already, Start By Understanding Your Ideal Customers in 2016
We talk about understanding your ideal customers a lot around here. So many companies are aiming for the bushes because they don’t understand their ideal customers. Because of this, they have a lot of questions about their marketing communications like:
- Where should we be?
- What should we be doing?
- What should we say?
You ideal customers are your three-to-four best-fit prospects. No, you can’t be the company for everyone.
When you identify those ideal customers, and get to know them like your closest friends, you’ll begin answering your own questions.
Put Together a Laser-Focused Strategy for 2016
That knowledge in your mind, you’ll have the keys to open any door you come across. Use that information to construct a laser-focused strategy for attacking 2016.
2.) Get Your Team on the Same Page
In The Other Guys, Wahlberg and Ferrell are at odds with one another. They’re partners working for the same cause, but they can’t see eye to eye at the beginning. The image above is a scene where Wahlberg tosses Ferrell’s coffee on him after a little dispute. They’re not in-sync and are more worried about dueling with one another than putting the bad guys away.
At any given organization, there are pretty serious divides between departments. This could be the marketing department being at odds with advertising. Leadership at odds with customer service. Or another common cut-throat exchange—marketing and sales.
Resolve Inter-Department Conflicts to Move Forward
This is absolutely toxic for not only your company’s environment, but how far you’ll make it in the new year. If you have these inter-department conflicts, you need to make formal efforts to resolve them.
- What caused that rift between sales and marketing? How can you fix it?
- Why do marketing and leadership scowl at each other at meetings? Why are they at odds? How can it be resolved?
Center Your Team on a Common Goal—Company Growth
It doesn’t matter what department someone is working for in your company—the goal should be the same. You should all be fighting to move the entire company forward, and it’s worth acknowledging the truth—that every department shares equal success at achieving that main goal.
From a leadership perspective, you have to acknowledge that every department holds equal stake in the future and ultimate success of the company. Every working piece of the organization needs to rally around a central goal. For you, that can vary, but it usually fits into a particular arena—percentage new growth for the year.
Introduce Some Incentives for Extreme Teamwork Success
Your organization might not (probably won’t) be able to do that kind of incentive, but think what you can do. Get the troops rallied around something where all the key players are shaking hands, playing nice and working well together to achieve that goal.
Wahlberg and Ferrell Make It Work
In The Other Guys, Wahlberg and Ferrell make it work. They reconcile their differences.
In fact, they do a “fresh start,” and you know what they begin to achieve? Some real results.
3.) Don’t Believe Everything You Hear About the New Year
A couple of fellow cops gunning for the “action hero” position trick Ferrell into doing something that “honors the flag.” The Desk Pop. Allegedly this is a tradition in the department where you fire off a round from your desk …
Yeah … Not real although “they were so convincing in their argument.” Ferrell falls for it, gets his gun taken away and gets a wooden gun instead.
The lesson? Don’t believe everything you hear.
Everyone Has Predictions for 2016—Don’t Believe Everything You Hear
This is the time of the year where everyone has a prediction about the marketing communications landscape of 2016.
You’ve heard it before—people claiming that social media is dying, public relations is dying, paper is dying, desktop is dying and so forth and so on.
Keep An Eye on Your Audience—Not the “Predictions”
Here’s the bottom line. Understand your audience like you understand your best friends or closest family, and you’ll know exactly what your audience is using or not using. There will be no speculation involved.
It seems like every year a bunch of marketers come out and say “Facebook is dying!” Some people might put together a compelling argument and make you fall for the Desk Pop.
But what if in reality your particular target audience are Facebook fiends? If you know that’s the case then you know what you need to do, and you won’t fall for the Desk Pop.
4.) You Can’t Just Walk Away from Explosions Like They Do in the Movies
Wahlberg and Ferrel arrive at a shopping center to investigate. When they get close, there’s an explosion that takes them down pretty hard.
They go on a small rant about how the movie industry lies to us—that you can’t just walk away without flinching.
Marketing Communications Mistakes Aren’t As Easily Resolved As You Read About or See on TV
For your organization, an explosion could be your CEO going out there and saying something that alienates a group of people. It could be an accidental social media post, or other communications misstep.
You need to take every, possible precaution and step to prevent these missteps. Once they happen, it’s not like the movies. Your team isn’t going to pull an Olivia Pope and smooth everything over like a charm. It’s just not that simple or that easy.
It’s also not as easily resolved as that communications case study you read about. Communications disasters are challenging and take a great deal of effort to successfully resolve.
Bolster Your Team with Crisis Communications Planning
Even if these things happen, your organization needs to have a crisis communications plan considering every response and plan of action for every potential situation that could ever go wrong.
You need to consider every possibility and document them in a centralized location. You need to prepare a crisis communications team structure.
Who’s put in charge of all communications with the media? What should the rest of the organization do? How do you prevent team members going behind the organization’s back during an official crisis to talk to the media? How do you resolve the situation, but also communicate the situation?
Crisis is never a matter of if, but when. You need to invest a great deal of time in preparation and practice.
5.) Everyone You meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
OK, so not so much a marketing lesson as much as a morale lesson. Had to slip one in eventually.
Unknown to Wahlberg, Ferrell’s character—although neat, polite and tidy—used to be a relentless pimp named Gator. This is a past he continues to struggle with throughout the movie.
Apply These Lessons to Your Year
The lesson here? As you go through 2016, dealing with your team, new clients, new partners and the world in general, be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
And with that, have a very happy and outrageous successful New Year!