Cutting Through in Six Savvy Steps

One of our favorite New Yorker cartoons is the one that shows a pack of brain surgeons surrounding an operating table scalpels in hand when the head doctor declares, “Hey, this isn’t marketing!” And as much as we love to see our profession elevated, the truth is that even with the complexities introduced by social media, creating marketing programs that cut through just isn’t that hard especially if you follow these six simple yet savvy steps.

1. Do your homework
Sounds like a no brainer right? Who the heck would launch a marketing campaign without taking a close look at the category, the target and the brand? Well, don’t get me started. Fortunately, Renegade clients know better. One such client Akamai ADS recently took the time to interview customers, prospects and industry experts, helping them to uncover a significant opportunity in their digital media marketplace.

2. Solve a problem
Unlike our brain surgeon friends, marketing is rarely a life or death situation but rather a simple function of solving a problem for a particular target. In the case of Akamai ADS, the problem identified by their research was that digital marketers were becoming increasingly dependent on remarketing to drive online sales and in the process were having trouble expanding their user bases.

3. Use your marketing to provide a service
Blah. Blah. Blah. That’s the sound of most advertising. Mere messaging that falls on deaf ears 98% of the time. However, if you turn your marketing into a service, minds, hearts and pocket books open up. The service need not be complex as long as it solves a problem. Akamai ADS did this by creating an online calculator that helped digital marketers figure out how much incremental revenue they could generate by expanding their customer base.

4. Have some fun
While none of us want a funny brain surgeon, people do business with people they like and the same holds for brand selection. Brands that don’t take themselves too seriously often end up generating serious sales and long-lasting loyalty. To introduce its Brand NU Game campaign, Akamai started at’s Annual Summit with a crane claw game that visualized the act of gaining New Users. All players received “New User Bait” gummy worms and a taste of things to come on Winners were posted on Akamai’s Facebook page to extend the fun.


saw through a good idea

BrandNU game winners

5. Stay focused but don’t rely on one channel
Surgeons increasingly aim to minimize the size of their incisions hoping to dramatically speed up recovery times. Marketers can benefit from this kind of focus as long as they don’t rely too heavily on one particular channel to engage their target. In addition to the trade show activity, Akamai ADS created an experiential direct mail program and highly targeted digital media, all designed to help online marketers learn about the “NU Math” behind the “Brand NU Game” calculator.

6. Size up and sharpen
No self-respecting brain surgeon would walk away from a patient without plans for several post-op evaluations. Given that marketing by definition is a continuum, marketers must have benchmarks in place to track success and make adjustments as necessary. For Akamai ADS, the metrics are plentiful, from hard measures like site traffic and leads generated to softer ones like brand awareness and favorability ratings. While it is too early to identify adjustments, their Brand NU Game campaign is well on its way to cutting through.


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