Maybe you’ve never asked yourself what Bill Murray would think of your latest email, social, advertising or content campaign.
But maybe you should. Especially since we can now provide an answer.
The incomparable actor/comedian/demigod participated in a “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) session on Reddit late last week. And one Redditor asked how brands could be more like Murray. (Actually, he asked Murray to comment on Reddit sales guy Mike Cole’s presentation on the topic, which is worth looking at.)
Murray’s response, while brief, espouses a philosophy towards branding and marketing we’d all be wise to learn. Here’s the full comment from the longer AMA session, which you really should read through.
Well I don’t know if brands should be more like Bill Murray, but there’s no question they should suck less. I think if you just hold that (thought) in front of yourself, like a marching brand trumpet player has the music mounted on his trumpet, about how to make ads suck less, then that will inform your daily life. It will be the last thing you think before you go to bed, and the first thing you think about in the morning, and you will add up the cumulative data of which ads are bearable to you, which ads you respond to. Ads aren’t bad in themselves. It’s just the attitude. We all have to go to the store, we all have to have groceries, but there’s a way to sell you things to make the exchange more of a human one. Sometimes you buy things from someone because you like their style. They watch with some fascination about the way YOU choose. If you think the ad will work backwards to what you’re trying to tell them in the first place.
There are two big insights I read in this short commentary.
1. Value Needs to Be Our Obsession
The maxim of content marketing is to produce quality education and information that a buyer (or audience) finds independently valuable. We all know this. The hard part is living it.
That’s because, at the end of the day, we are rewarded for hitting an entirely different set of goals: traffic accumulated, leads sourced to our efforts, sales and revenue brought in for the quarter. While we know producing content that has nothing to do with our product is important for achieving these goals, it’s hard to keep quality top of mind when facing pressure to deliver on a lead quota.
But as Murray mentions, holding quality as the foremost standard is the only real way brands can deliver it. Yes, you’ll still need to show results, but making the audience’s needs your obsession is the only way to really ensure quality.
2. Being Human Means Being Transparent
Murray isn’t the first one to suggest the marketing process could be more human. There are plenty of gurus who will argue the need to “humanize”—which is a verb that immediately sounds robotic—your brand.
Murray’s insight is that this occurs by opening your branding, your process for decision-making and delivering, to your would-be customers. This goes beyond sharing photos of employees on Instagram or hosting “you be the judge” contests. It means breaking down the reasoning behind your marketing, the steps you took to create and deliver your content, even reporting on the results.
In doing so, you define a sense of style. Or, as Murray put it, creating a situation where the customer “watches with some fascination about the way YOU choose.”
This involves some risk. Not everyone is going to love your style. But those who do will become true fans. After all, there’s a reason we still love Murray after making that Garfield movie.
That’s my two-step guide to marketing like Bill Freaking Murray. What would you add to the list?