Lessons From Viral Marketing
It turns out that all it really took for Kia’s “urban crossover,” the Soul, to catch on and sell like mad was a bunch of dancing hamsters. I’m not joking. If you’ve turned on prime time television since 2008, you’ve probably seen what I’m talking about. A group of computer-animated hamsters, tricked out in baggy sweat suits, roll up to some pretty strange situations and start dancing. The video below is among the most viral examples from this marketing campaign:
Whether you’re dancing along or shuddering, hear this: it really worked. The campaign is among the car manufacturer’s most-successful to date. Automotive experts credit the fact the brand’s sales have soared 78% since 2008 to the happy-footed hampsters.
Am I claiming that rodents are solely responsible for the fact the budget car brand has thrived during an economic recession? Absolutely not. I freely admit that many external factors are in play, and I don’t own a Kia. However, I’m a firm believer that the video is an exceptional example of marketing that’s tailored to buyer personas. Let’s examine a few reasons why:
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1. It’s Tailored to Demographics
When the hamster commercials first launched, the average age of a Kia Soul owner was 50. Was Kia making a leap by assuming your average 50 year-old is spending time playing Halo-like video games these days? Unlikely.
Kia’s Vice President of Marketing Mark Sprague implied that it was a deliberate move to attract buyer personas in younger age groups: “Kia’s demographics are changing. We’re attracting a younger customer that’s more affluent and educated.” Making your marketing appeal to the types of clients you want to attract is among the sharpest ways you can utilize buyer personas.
2. It Showcases Product Features
From the moment the Kia Soul was introduced at the 2008 Paris Motorshow, the brand was all about changing their image. It was apparent in the brand identity tagline of “a new way to roll” and exterior paint colors with names that were more trendy than descriptive, like “Alien” and “Shadow.”
Sprague was quoted at the car’s launch telling journalists “We think the vehicle is going to transform our brand.” Well, it did and some of this can surely be attributed to the fact that the marketing is all about product features that younger consumers are likely to prioritize. Lighted speaker frames that glow in time with your music? It’s a party vehicle, and the fact is clearly communicated in the brand’s content marketing.
3. It’s Viral-Worthy
No matter how well you’ve tailored your content marketing efforts to your buyer personas, it’s not going to drive revenue unless it’s viewed, shared and discussed. Kia’s hamster commercials quickly became an internet sensation, generating Tweets and Facebook shares among consumers in the same demographics they were initially trying to attract.
While predicting what content is going to be an enormous hit on social media is a challenge, it’s easy to pick out a few factors that made Kia’s commercial stand out when many marketing efforts from their competitors were quickly forgotten:
1. It’s Funny
When the commercials first aired, no one could possibly argue that dancing hampsters were a tired joke. The marketing was so strange, many people couldn’t help but laugh. According to Digital Buzz Blog, marketing that “makes us and others laugh” is on the right track to being viral-ready.
2. It’s Weird
People don’t tend to have the same cult-level love for the same-old car commercials. That’s why they’re not being dissected on marketing blogs. Kia didn’t delve into the Soul’s gas mileage in depth or show footage of the car speeding around a track while someone talked about safety features. They showcased drones with guns and dancing hampsters. Who wouldn’t talk about that?
3. It’s Provocative
The most shareable marketing is often a little off beat, but still safe for work. Kia seemed to undertand their personas would love content that pushed a few boundaries, and they were spot on.
How Do You Tailor Your Content Marketing to Buyer Personas?