Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What The big Lebowski Can Teach You About Advertising

If you've seen The Big Lebowski, you're likely well-versed in the Coen brothers' tale of Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, his rug, a case of mistaken identity, kidnapping, embezzlement, White Russians, bowling, and what have you. Oh, and some Creedence tapes. If you haven't seen it (obviously, you're not a golfer NSFW), you should buy, rent, download, stream, or bootleg it immediately! Then go to the definitive Lebowski website, Lebowskifest, buy the book, I'm A Lebowski, You're A Lebowski and find out more about everyone in the movie, including bowlers, achievers, pornographers, pederasts, pacifists, nihilists, Fascists, nymphos, a stranger, a car thief, a brother shamus, and Knox Harrington (the video artist).

The book also highlights the people, stories, and events that were ultimately merged by the Coen brothers to really tie the script together for The Big Lebowski. That included a guy who goes by the nickname "The Dude", a notable rug (that really tied the room together), a Vietnam vet friend turned private eye and security consultant, and a professor who confronted the teen he believed had stolen his car. In other words, a lotta ins, a lotta of outs, and a lotta strands in the Coen brothers' heads came together to create The Big Lebowski.

So how does all this apply to advertising? I'll tell you what I'm blathering about:

I'm the Dude, so that's what you call me. Though the character of The Dude was based on a real guy, that was only a part of the movie. And the same should go for your advertising. There can be one predominant element, be it Twitter, Facebook, a blog, banner ads, email, radio, direct mail, TV or print, but it shouldn't be the only media you use to advertise your business. Relying on only one media can help you build business, but it won't allow you to grow your business. Repeating the same message to the same audience means you'll get tuned out. In the digital age, the consumer sees and hears more "noise" than ever, so your message might have difficulty getting through on only one channel. Spread your message across the spectrum to insure your advertising reaches both existing and new customers. This will also help insure you're top of mind when your customer is ready to act.

...From Moses to Sandy Koufax. Just as the Coen brothers went into production with a cohesive script that tied together all the diverse elements that influenced the story, make sure you have a solid, 12 month ad plan to serve as your guide throughout the year. Though it may appear that way to some viewers, The Big Lebowski wasn't made up as they went along. Setting a goal in January to tweet more and post more to Facebook isn't an ad plan. Take the time to put together a marketing plan for the next 12 months now. Consider every media option, be it TV, radio, direct mail, email, blogging, banner ads, and yes, even print.  Edit as needed, but stick to the plan.

If you will it, Dude, it is no dream. The Big Lebowski was hardly a hit at the box office, but it became a huge cult success when it was released to home video. When it comes to your advertising plan, don't expect immediate success. A 12 month ad plan should be designed to build and maintain your success over the course of the year. The traditional view was that it took seven impressions for one to act on an advertiser's message. In the digital age, that number is likely higher. Take the time to make impressions. Impressions build trust. Impressions help overcome objections. Impressions help encourage sampling. All of that takes time. Keep on message and focus on the big picture all year long.

• Your roll, man. The script for The Big Lebowski, and the people and events that inspired it, didn't just occur to the Coen Brothers overnight.  It was built over time and edited as they went along. After they filmed it, there were even more scenes left on the cutting room floor. Do the same with your advertising plan. Develop a budget that will spread your message across several channels throughout the year. Track your results. Stick with what works consistently over the course of the year and edit out what doesn't.

Were you listening to the Dude's story?  Creating a yearly ad plan for your business doesn't have to be a Hollywood production. Simply take the time to put together a comprehensive, multi-pronged plan that will really tie things together, budget for the expenditures, and then put it to work for your business. It might not make you star, but it will help your business do some big box office. And that would be far out... 

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