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Oct 23, 2020    Burn Book

No Thanks, Modular is for Mainstreamers


You know, I was going to come on here and go over some insights on marketing an AI product. The whole shebang about how you should focus less on selling the tech, and more on selling the ROI of implementing the tech. Or, even deeper, selling the emotional benefit of those ROIs coming through.

It was going to go on to say something about how the way into the heart of a consumer and the top of an industry isn’t with buzzwords, but with emotional connection.

Pretty good, right? But we’ve definitely written about that before in regards to non-AI industries. That’s the heart of marketing— integrated marketing at least, where nothing operates modularly and everything is connected (designer to dev, creative to copywriter, IT to founder, and so on–that’s how ideas come to life). And that hasn’t changed for us in our decade of being a top advertising agency (in Austin, TX and the world).

Modular is for Mainstreamers

So we’re thinking we should go deeper. Past the industry best practices, past the viral ‘Find Your Why’ videos, past AI and SaaS applications of our methodology.

We’re diving into how, as humans, there really shouldn’t be any either way. And that is where most startups, businesses, brands end up falling into their grave.

Nothing in the human experience is modular. Humans cognitively create the notions of modularity in order to better understand the world around them. For example, technically time does not exist, only the effects of it passing. But through moon cycles, seasons, and clocks, we very much can say, look there, time of course exists. Similarly, nothing happens in a vacuum. It may not be the plot of the The Butterfly Effect, but everything is connected in some form or another. For instance, a young serial entrepreneur may have reached total mental burnout because her boss piled on too many assignments. But it is also because she fell out of an exercise routine because she wiped out water skiing and hurt her knee on a vacation she only took because she lives in a capitalist society where her paid leave days don’t roll over.

Alright, alright, coming back from philosophy land (cultural anthropology land?), what we’re saying is that human life experience is not modular. Everything feeds into something else, has connected causes and effects, and that’s why life can be unpredictable.

So why. on Earth. Would a business create its brand marketing strategy based on basic consumer data? (And yes, targeting an ad to a male aged 23-31 who makes over $80K a year and lives in either Seattle or San Jose still counts as basic). Why on earth would a brand sell its Hows and Whats or even their Whys to Mr. Works on Apple’s Lower Division Dev Team, rather than to, say, Mr. Went Through a Breakup & Might Try Out Yoga?

Because they don’t know through which data to target. Because there’s no data on top of that data. Because it’s all intuition. It’s all about being a human yourself, and therefore being the best guess on who would want the thing you’re selling.

And that, my friends, is how RCM does retargeting strategy. Hunches. Ideas. We let research and data put us on the road, but we (with our clients) decide where to go, how fast, what we’re driving, and if we pick up any hitchhikers on the way.

We understand that, perhaps, not being years deep into this industry might make this feel too abstract, so I’ve got an example to wrap up.

Say we want to bring in more clients. Not just any clients, clients that understand what integrated marketing is. Clients that know their design team shouldn’t be separate from their dev team, nor their writing team separate from their founders. We want them to already understand how important it is that branding be cohesive and strong, because that’s what holds up ROIs in the long run, not spending 10K on a single set of social media optimized campaign ads built by ‘experts’ you’ve never met and don’t know your brand (because they don’t know you).

In an ad to reach these people, sure, we might use some data and say, hey, the most likely people to be on this route aren’t just entrepreneurs, but social do-good startup entrepreneurs, and the younger the better given Gen Zs values. They’re heavily in CA, WA, PA, and maybe New York. But from there on out, we’re following intuition, baby. If they get what we mean by integrated marketing, they’re probably into immersive art or performance art, and like pages or attended events of the like. They might take vacations to culturally rich cities as opposed to ‘take me anywhere warm’ beachfront tourist bars, and are still planning it because they haven’t actually gone yet. We think they’re conscious of the performance of even their personal (not company) social media, and have expressed interest in topics covering Instagram’s algorithm updates. They’re following all their local politicians, not just state and national figureheads during election time. And you know what? They have a cat, but not a dog, because they’re working homebodies with less time for things other than their startup. They want a dog though, obviously.

Now, if we run that ad, it’s not going to perform perfectly. No ad really ever does on a first try, if you’re being bold and not-boring. But with that start, and a big-picture, well-rounded, full-human perspective of optimizing that ad until the click through rates are 10X the industry average? We’re golden.

Believe it or not, marketing has always been mostly an art with some science behind it, not the other way around.

And we didn’t get there just because we’ve been bathing in data since cookies first came into the picture for marketers (though that helps). We got there because a consumer’s experience of your brand is not modular, it’s immersive. So your performance marketing shouldn’t be modular, but integrated. Think multimedia experience art. Think immersion. Think about passions and fears and habits and failures and neurodiversity because, at the end of the day, you are a whole human, trying to get the attention of another whole human.

Modular is for mainstreamers. Get integrated, go deeper. That right there can be applied to AI, SaaS, real estate, emerging tech products, fintech marketing, yada yada yada. Industries are just our modular way of compartmentalizing the world. Marketing— real, deep, Anti-Template marketing, is art (or, maybe it’s just life).

Let Your Curiosity Take Control