Make ’em smile

This is a guest post from Mitch Joel — President, Twist Image and author of Six Pixels of Separation. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

What moves people to take action?

I was watching America’s Got Talent during the preliminary/audition rounds where the show travels to cities across America to source who will make it to the big stage in Las Vegas. Beyond the hackneyed TV production (the drama between the judges, the voice-over talent pushing us to think about which American city has the most talent and the terrible acts that make it on TV for the sheer entertainment people get out of watching other people implode in public), there is one interesting aspect of the show that also represents your biggest opportunity to truly make an impact.

Make ’em smile.

There was a dance troupe auditioning. They were young, energetic, and having a blast. They were smiling. They were doing something fun. The audience was smiling. They kept the energy high. The judges were smiling. It was fun to watch. I was smiling. It turns out that smiling is not only addictive but it is universal. Regardless of culture, geography, or where we sit on the socio-economic scale, when something is good, it makes us smile.

We tend to overthink marketing in many instances. We dive into research and analytics as we explore specific niche audiences to reach and get all serious about not only how the message is perceived by the audience, but how it will impact sales. There’s no denying that we need to do a lot of this, but it shouldn’t be done at the detriment of making your audience smile.

A smile doesn’t have to be about making them laugh. A smile can be serious.

If you have something serious that you’re promoting or a product or service that is highly regulated, you can still make ’em smile. A smile in the mind is often more powerful than one on the lips. It’s an emotional feeling. It’s a feeling that connects a consumer to your brand because it said something to them that was a reflection of who they are. It can be smart, emotional, and yes, even funny too. Those feelings make people warm. Making people feel warm is very important.

If you’re not making them feel something, you’re not giving it your all.

Marketing can often be too clever for its own good. Watching America’s Got Talent reminded me of this. The idea is not to play towards the lowest common denominator (which I think the show does). The real idea is to watch what happens when someone on the stage truly connects with the audience. Those are the moments that we — as marketers — need to strive for — each and every day.

Remember: You can’t fake a smile. Either it’s authentic or it’s not. How often does your marketing really make ’em smile?

About Mitch Joel

Mitch Joel is President of Mirum — an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency. He is also a blogger, podcaster, journalist, speaker, and the author of "Six Pixels of Separation" and "CTRL ALT Delete." Mitch is frequently called upon to be a subject matter expert for BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Marketing Magazine, Profit, Strategy, Money, The Globe & Mail, and many other media outlets.

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