You Need to Market Like You’re Selling Cereal

There’s 2 lessons to learn from Tony the Tiger

When I was a kid, I would sit down at the breakfast table every morning to read the cereal box. There were jokes, mazes, quizzes, colourful pictures, cartoons, cut 0uts, give aways and anything/everything else a kid wants to look at.

I’d choose the brands of cereal I wanted to eat purely by the box. And I chose the box purely by the content and the branding. Because it spoke to me and appealed to me. They knew what I wanted.

They gave me what I wanted.

The folks who designed and wrote those boxes bridged the gap between entertaining and educating and selling more effectively than any marketers I’ve encountered since.

And that’s what your job is. If you’re trying to sell a product or you’re trying to find people to pay for your services, you’re not going to get anywhere begging them to buy.

Why the fuck would they do that?

Why would they care enough to?

Your job is to entertain first. It’s to educate second. And it’s to sell third. In that order, and always in that order. You’re not punching and counter punching – it’s subtler than that.

It’s closer to a dance than a bar room brawl.

That’s the first lesson.

The second lesson? Pay attention to who your audience is.

People just don’t buy cereal for their kids as much as they did when I was younger. Here’s some of the data on that, from Adweek:

Cereal sales have been circling the drain for over a decade now. According to Nielsen data, Americans still spent $8.75 billion on ready-to-eat cereal last year – but as recently as 2012 that figure was $9.6 billion.

The reason is pretty simple.

When I was a kid, parents were buying boxes of cereal that their kids wanted. So the kids were the prime audience. Those boxes were made for us.

Today, parents are buying boxes of cereal that they want their kids to eat, based on what’s going to be healthier for ‘em in the long term.

Those boxes aren’t made for those parents. They don’t entertain them, educate them and sell to them. They’re still trying to convert the kids. And sure, you’ve got to make it appeal to the kids, but they’re not making the decisions about what goes on the breakfast table. Parents are paying more attention.

If your audience changes and you don’t pay attention, believe you me – there’s only one way that ends.

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