Avoiding the Sophomore Slump: Secrets of Repeat Marketing Success

One-hit wonders. They’re not just a phenomenon of the entertainment industry. Plenty of brands experience their five seconds (or days, weeks, or months) of fame after launching a particularly relevant, clever, crowd-pleasing campaign—and then slink into the background.

When irrelevance is the default amidst a constant explosion of digital content, repeat success is the key to staying in the game among ever-growing competition—and distractions. But how do you achieve it and avoid falling short? Here are some tips.

Break it down

After running a successful campaign, every good marketer sits back and asks: how can I do that again? But repeat success is about more than intuition. Start by breaking down each element of the effort. Communicate with your customers and your team to determine what was done right, what was done wrong, and why. While identifying problems, don’t stop asking “why” until you’ve unearthed the root cause—and while identifying strengths, brainstorm ways to apply the same winning approach to a fresh idea. 

Then, start examining your content strategy. If audiences loved your campaign’s originality, replicating it is risky business.

This year, Old Spice brought back the original “Old Spice Guy” and his classic “Smell Like a Man, Man” verbiage that went viral in 2010 to mark the campaign’s ten-year anniversary. But leveraging a strong brand identity and playing it safe is a thin line to straddle. Even in the name of sentimentality or reflection, relying on old campaigns can bore audiences. By featuring something new (in this case, a son), Old Spice was able to strike a sense of novelty while riffing off their old ad. Remember: without creativity, freshness can easily go stale.

Take concepts further

Try thinking of a brand that has remained relevant your whole life. If that’s a stretch, consider popular phrases that have cropped up over the years. “Just Do It,” “I’m Lovin’ It,” and “Share a Coke” immediately come to mind. So does “15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance.” In fact, that may be the most frequent refrain of cable television.

Geico is weird. But nonetheless, the gecko remains an icon—even making his way into the pop culture realm. Whether you picture him in a cowboy hat, holding a walking stick, or driving a miniature red convertible, the point is that he persists. And with him, Geico has achieved something remarkable—they’ve found repeated success. Audiences loved the brand’s early-day weirdness. Geico ads have only gotten weirder over the years, and it’s worked.

Keep customers close

Brand success can often be traced back to a sense of mutual respect with the audience. Even in the cases of comedic campaigns, it’s important to keep customers in on the joke. Don’t alienate your target audience by getting too caught up in the content. While there are many ways to maintain a strong relationship between brand and audience, some companies take it to the next level—creating completely customer-centric campaigns.

In 2014, Starbucks launched its global “Meet Me at Starbucks” campaign. Here, they featured a video filmed in 28 countries in one day that documented real customer experiences and stories around the world. Beyond showing the human side of Starbucks, this campaign built connections with real customers—allowing them to produce and embody the advertisement themselves.

At the end of the day, it’s your consumers you’re trying to impress—not your competitors. And sometimes, keeping them engaged means engaging with them yourself. 

Looking for a content marketing agency to help streamline your next campaign? Contact MarketSmiths today.

Hope Rothenberg

Hope Rothenberg

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