During a stroll among the Christmas decorations in a local shopping district with my 19-year-old son, we walked by a candy store when he suddenly stopped and declared that their window signs were cool and very “meta”.
(Meta? What on earth is “meta”? Please tell me I’m not the only middle-aged person who had no idea what he meant.)
Instead of nodding my head and pretending like I knew what he was talking about, I asked what he meant. Supposedly meta is a term used to define being self-aware. As in understanding your weaknesses, perceived or real, and acknowledging them – in a cool way. (Do they still say cool?)
So I looked it up and sure enough, the urban slang for meta is: about the thing itself. It’s seeing the thing from a higher perspective instead of from within the thing, like being self-aware.
Instantly, like the snap of fingers, I knew exactly what he was saying and it completely makes sense to me as someone who does marketing every day. Granted, I’m not the best at marketing, but this year, I’ve pushed in deep to become very aware and in-tune with target audiences of my clients.
[ Suggested Read: Who Are You Talking To? ]
I’ve even had a number of new clients this year that I’ve been hammering this point with – of getting into the shoes of their core customer and talking about the things the customer is thinking about.
So in a flash, my son was able to put into a simple word everything I’ve been trying to articulate but struggled to do so.
META MARKETING, AN EXAMPLE
There is a meta marketing term out there that doesn’t represent the concept I’m trying to convey here. Rather, the meta marketing I’m presenting is using the urban slang of the word. And it’s a perfect fit for the field of marketing.
*Meta is saying what people are thinking.
*It’s heading off the objections from the start and turning them into a marketable idea.
*Meta marketing isn’t afraid to tackle the negative and turn it into a very marketable positive.
Here’s what I mean. The store we walked by the other night is, It’s Sugar®️- and their marketing is brilliant. Just take a look at the signs in their store:
Their marketing was so effective, I went back a few days later and did some shopping (and I don’t like having sugar around). Want to know what hit me personally? The picture of the woman with the salad and then the plate of sugar with the words, “You know you want it”. Seriously, it made me laugh because it’s so me!
These folks know WHY consumers buy their product – or why they DON’T buy their product. And they’re addressing it head-on in a way that makes you chuckle.
LAUGH AT YOURSELF
I’ve occasionally seen other examples of this urban meta marketing concept and they are always effective. What I love most about it is that it makes us laugh at ourselves.
Meta marketing, in this sense, forces us to relax and quit trying so hard to convince people of the message WE want to convey. Marketing so often is used to HIDE flaws. Meta Marketing, in my definition, exposes flaws and makes them positive or humorous. It makes us ask the question: What do people REALLY think about our product or service? Good or bad?
Isn’t that really what marketing should be? → Exposing what our business really is, not trying to convince people our product or service is something it’s not?
MAKE US CHUCKLE
A couple of weeks prior to my Christmas window shopping revelation with my son, I drove by a marquee sign that I pass at least 4 times a day. Usually, I passively read the sign and put no thought into it. Yet one day I responded in my thoughts to the message on the board, and then had an idea that, in my opinion, would make it intriguing. And my son would say, very meta.
The sign read: “TableRock-opoly is a great gift! Buy local.”
First of all, the folks that run the organization with the above sign are FABULOUS people and I am a member of said organization. So I am in no way, criticizing. In fact, they are brilliant folks doing a fantastic job. However, I think this would have been a perfect opportunity to cash in on making fun of themselves.
My thought was, “Actually that’s not a good gift idea. No one would want that as a gift. However, it would be a hoot to play on Christmas.”
This is the point where marketing goes from basic and expected to hitting a sweet spot. Instead, how about:
“TableRock-opoly is a bad gift idea…but a blast to play on Christmas day.”
“TableRock-opoly. Not a great idea for your wife, but a stellar office party gift.”
Seriously, I’d be tempted to stop in and get one just because the sign would have made me laugh and our family plays loads of games around the holidays.
The above are just a couple examples of how to tap into what people REALLY think about a product and turn it into a positive opportunity.
Marketing works extremely well when it connects with truth. Its Sugar®️ is unapologetic regarding the fact that they are totally and completely unhealthy. Instead of trying to convince people that sugar is just okay for special treats for a special day…they just latched on and said, SUGAR IS FUN!
My son’s lesson in the language of the younger culture was spot-on timing for me. (Urban) Meta Marketing actually gets to the core of what consumers are thinking and then capitalizes on that.
It’s marketing that says, “I know what you’re thinking and we’re thinking it too.”
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