We've sung the song, teared up at the movie…but have we really considered what marketing messages are woven into the classic Christmas story — Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?
I think not. So let's correct that mistake right now. (And enjoy the film's original trailer)
Marketing lesson #1: You can't hide the truth.
Rudolph did not embrace the fact that he was different from all the other reindeer. He just wanted to have a cute little black nose and the chance to play some reindeer games.
You can fool people for a little while, but if you cannot walk the talk…don't say it in the first place. Your consumers know you're not perfect. They just want you to be straight about it.
Marketing lesson #2: Never make assumptions about how your consumers feel. Far better to ask directly.
One of the main reasons Rudolph took a hike was because he assumed Clarice wouldn't love him now that his nose so bright was common knowledge. Think of the grief he could have saved everyone if he had just checked in with her.
You are going to be hard pressed to find a more insightful marketing tool than a customer survey. Sometimes the news is tough to hear, but I guarantee you — you can make some simple changes to significantly increase your customer loyalty and retention.
Marketing lesson #3: Your worst enemy can turn into your greatest ally.
Sure…the Abominable SnowMonster (or The Bumble as Yukon Cornelius called him) tried to eat his girlfriend but Rudolph came to see him as a buddy — even letting him put the star atop the Christmas tree. All it took was someone (Hermey the elf) listening to the Bumble and finding his pain (tooth ache) to turn the grumbling beast into a helpful and happy pal.
When someone clearly dislikes or even hates your company, product or services' shortcomings, listen. If you really work towards understanding their perspective — you can not only save the relationship but you can turn that negative word of mouth risk into an advocate.
Marketing lesson #4: Create raving fans and a community by giving first.
Rudolph didn't have to promise the Misfit Toys anything. At that moment, they couldn't help him. But with a generous heart, he promised them he'd try to find them good homes with children who would love them.
When you do something without regard for "re-payment" of any kind, you create value. When you create value…people keep coming back. When they do that, you begin to build a relationship and a sense of loyalty and no one has even tried to buy or sell yet. Which makes the selling a whole lot easier.
Marketing lesson #5: When you find what makes you unique, it can be your ticket to new heights.
When Rudolph began to see his nose as an asset and recognized it was what set him apart from all the other reindeer, he suddenly got asked by Santa to take a leadership position. From then on, it was his calling card. People told others about his nose and pretty soon, he was known from coast to coast. That's branding!
Companies like Apple and Disney rise to the top because they are proud of what makes them different. They don't try to be everything to everyone. They recognize that having a niche means you can create brand loyalty as opposed to being lost in a sea of sameness.
(A fond repeat of a post I wrote in 2007)