Nick Westergaard

Nick Westergaard

To channel postal great Cliff Clavin, it’s a little-known fact that people today have the attention span of a goldfish. Thanks to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, text messages, email, live video, fitness trackers, smart cars, and … What was that? Sorry. My phone just buzzed.

We have more communications tools than ever before but because of these same tools, our audience is locked in a perpetually glazed-over state checking twelve things on their phone while watching TV, listening to Spotify, and ordering something from Amazon. Oh, and they’re also trying to communicate with the other person sitting across the couch from them as well.

We have more communications tools than ever before but because of these same tools, our audience is locked in a perpetually glazed-over state checking twelve things on their phone while watching TV, listening to Spotify, and ordering something from Amazon. Oh, and they’re also trying to communicate with the other person sitting across the couch from them as well.

In this distracted digital age, it’s harder and harder for brands cut through the clutter. Believe it or not, with all of today’s technology, to stand out you may have to do less. And that’s not as easy as it sounds.

Infinite Possibilities

As brand builders, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You have to do it all. Every new social network, every new form of content, and all of the stuff you’re already doing too.

Beyond increased opportunities, these new channels cause stress. You’re not doing enough! You’re not on the latest shiny new thing! Why haven’t you figured out a Facebook Live video strategy yet? In my book Get Scrappy I call this checklist marketing — checking every channel off of your list for the sake of checking it off and often executing everything in a mediocre way as a result. Regardless of size, most marketers simply can’t afford to do everything. Much less do everything effectively.

Infinite possibilities require finite strategies. Instead of doing everything, try selecting one or two key channels. Just make sure they’re the right channels.

Finding Standout Channels

A quick scan of the shoes in my closet reveals a simple truth. They all came from Zappos. Every single pair. Zappos controls approximately 20% of the footwear market not to mention the other apparel and accessories they sell. Zappos is a standout retail brand.

But they aren’t running flashy TV ads. They aren’t littering your mailbox with circulars. And they aren’t bombarding you with countless online display ads. Sure, they’re running some remarketing ads (because you will eventually crack and buy those New Balance fashion sneakers in one more color). But Zappos primarily focuses on email marketing.

Like the direct mail catalogs that built the modern retail industry, email provides focused, data-driven marketing. From simple sales emails based on shopping history to clever customer service responses inviting you to turn the rare defective product into an arts-and-crafts project, Zappos focuses on a channel relevant to their customers and their business model.

Ask yourself: what’s most important to your business and your customers? Who cares what others are doing?

Standing Out from the Crowd

Tesla certainly doesn’t care. If they did, the growing automaker would be focusing on building a dealer network and big, bold TV advertising. Instead, Tesla is standing out by literally owning every shopping touchpoint through their innovative company-owned showrooms and service centers. This allows them to create and control a vivid customer experience. Rather than buying brand awareness with advertising, Tesla relies on co-founder and CEO Elon Musk’s 12-million Twitter followers.

The same crowd that Tesla is avoiding also encourages marketers to first build their online hub and then drive traffic back to that hub by sharing social content. BuzzFeed has certainly followed this strategy, creating some of the most snacked upon content shared online. However, they avoided this conventional wisdom altogether when launching their DIY recipe series Tasty. Instead of starting with a website, the snack-sized Tasty videos focused on Facebook first, where new algorithms favored short, simple video content. Swimming upstream has paid off. Tasty videos have received billions of views, making the brand the 4th-most-watched Facebook publisher, and number one in the culinary genre.

Instead of starting with a website, the snack-sized Tasty videos focused on Facebook first, where new algorithms favored short, simple video content. Swimming upstream has paid off. Tasty videos have received billions of views, making the brand the 4th-most-watched Facebook publisher, and number one in the culinary genre.

Like Zappos, Tesla and Tasty are standout brands in their industries. They don’t stand out by doing everything — especially everything that everyone else is doing. Infinite possibilities require finite strategies. To help your brand stand out, you have to understand what matters most to you and those you serve.



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Are you looking to simplify your marketing in today's complex digital world?
Don't get discouraged, get scrappy!

Nick Westergaard's new book offers a reliable, repeatable system for reinventing your marketing as marketing reinvents itself. Featuring frameworks, hacks, tips, idea starters, and more, Get Scrappy is the map you need to take your digital marketing from good to great.

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Get Scrappy

Good marketing isn’t about expensive ad campaigns or jumping on the latest social bandwagon. Whether your company is a Fortune 500 behemoth or a nascent startup, Nick Westergaard’s detailed advice about how to Get Scrappy – and do more with less – is certain to improve your business.
Dorie Clark, Author of Stand Out and Reinventing You, Professor at Duke University Fuqua School of Business