What you want,
and what is best for you, as we all know, are often two different things. It’s an old and early lesson we learn from our parents growing up. And it ended up being exactly the lesson that played out in the SmileLove project.
As a professional writer working in marketing, the first thing you have to do when set to the task is find out who you are telling the story to. Not an audience, not a mass of people; but the individual. Just like creating a character in a book, you create how this person looks, their gender, their age, their likes and dislikes.
when we had our vision meeting to begin the process of planning the video, I might have casually assumed the character was like one of the many men we met with from their company. That’s understandable, to think that the person passionately creating and pushing the product would be doing so for others like them. My assumptions would later prove useless.
In the first collaboration meeting, we did all we could to placate to the team’s ideas. Remember, after all, that for your client there is only one customer; the buyer; and for you, there are two; the buyer and your client who is selling the product. SmileLove wanted ‘funny’. They wanted something that brought humor to an often embarrassing plight. They wanted what had been done with FanPole. They wanted “Dollar Shave Club”. I get that. I’m a guy too. For heaven’s sake, I wanted “Dollar Shave Club”. It’s the nature of dudes. Many of us can find enough meaning in an episode of Family Guy to get us through another day of work in the morning. What I’m trying to say is: men like to laugh.
Then came the market research on the customer base.
That’s when the obvious detail hit me.
“I’m a 39-year-old, wife to my husband of 20 years and mother of three. I work from home. I want to smile again.”
“I’m a 28-year-old middle school teacher in the middle of wedding planning with my soon to be husband and I have a bajillion hobbies. I would love to have my teeth ready for the wedding photos”
“I am a 22-year-old female student with 3 jobs, and I am afraid to smile.”
This was a beauty product for women.
Now I could see her. More than that; now I felt like I knew her. She had sat next to me in high school — and she never smiled.
It wasn’t that she didn’t want to smile.
In fact, my silliness was my vehicle for flirtation, and she was all aboard. It was obvious that she thought I was funny and cute, but no matter how hard I tried, her smile was only ever a hard, straight-ish line. When I finally did see her open-lipped smile I could see she had been trying to hide crooked teeth. It may not have bothered me, but it was clear that it bothered her.
I thought of her, sitting in her room alone somewhere, smiling only to herself in the mirror, and even then being embarrassed. I thought of her growing older, having money in her late-twenties, and looking online for where she could invest her income into fixing that one thing that always bothered her. That one thing that kept her from being able to smile.
The next week,
we met with SmileLove again, and we told them that we had a totally different direction that we wanted to take the video. It’s always a hard sell, trying to convince the client that you know something about their customer that they don’t. But we did.
As a result of the market research, we were able to tell them who their audience was. We told them everything about her. We wanted them to understand that to her, this wasn’t funny. That to her, something as seemingly shallow as being concerned about smiling with crooked teeth had been at times agonizing; on dates, meeting strangers, family pictures, job interviews. To her this wasn’t funny, it was disheartening.
We needed a script that would give hope to the person who didn’t feel confident enough to show a simple, full smile. We needed something that was inspiring. We needed them to feel that we understood their emotions and that we had proof of others like them who felt the same way, and had benefited from the product.
This new direction led to a video that produced wildly successful metrics.
It was a reminder that the audience is a real person, not just someone to sit and consume any cool idea you may have. SmileLove ended up loving the changes, and in the end, it was worth the readjustments all around.
And I’d like to think somewhere out there was that girl from my high school, sitting in bed, watching YouTube on her phone. And that by some chance that ad came up before a video, and she felt it — and smiled.
So was it worth the clients money?
- The video ad campaigns averaged a 167% Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), earning almost $2 for every $1 spent on ads
- Sales on their website increased by 4,400% from organic and direct traffic
- The cost per lead decreased by 93% from what the clients previous campaign was costing