What Fyre Fest & Theranos Mean for Marketing
AKA how to actually channel authenticity in 2019
Fyre Festival and Billy McFarland. Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. The great American dream. The con artists of our time.
As a viewer, their stories have fascinated me. But as a marketer? I’ve watched the documentaries and felt, well, a little bit dirty.
Why? Because in a Silicon Valley-defined era, where ‘explosive growth’ is the goal and emotive YouTube videos are king, marketing has never been more powerful. But with great power comes great responsibility. And with great, public failure, consumers are starting to question who they’re actually buying from.
Marketers, we’re in a moment.
And it’s our job to turn it around.
Welcome to the new, post-Fyre Festival way of doing business. It’s less ‘fun’. It’s less ‘sexy’. And it’s the key to sustained success. Here’s how to get started.
1. Provide clarity. *Actual* clarity.
It’s no longer enough to have a TEDx talk to your name, or a lowercase sans serif logo. Consumers are going to increasingly demand clarity and legitimacy around their purchases and its our job, as marketers, to ensure they get it.
Where to start? By reviewing your messaging. Ask yourself: is my product actually offering a ‘free’ trial? Is there actually a money-back guarantee? Is this really “40% off” or offer simply a well-worded campaign? Are we ground-breaking? Are we life-changing? Are we who we say we are?
Swap clichés for real data. Be minimalist in more than just your design. View every campaign through a consumer-first lens. Replace promises with real customer stories. Tell your brand’s story through non-biased people. Know that if you don’t strive for transparency, your customers will.
Silicon Valley may be a sucker for a story, but in a post-truth climate, consumers care about what you can actually do for them. Make sure you can deliver.
2. Know that customer service is your greatest marketing tool
Stop trying to win over new customers, and start keeping your existing ones happy. In the US alone, it’s estimated that over $62 billion in revenue is lost every single year because of bad customer service. Ouch.
It’s easy to think of customer service as a simply operational task. It’s much more difficult to integrate it within your overall marketing strategy. And yet, you should.
Today’s climate provides the perfect opportunity to rethink how you and your business approach customer service. Sure, you may have a well-organised ticketing system in place or a pretty good response time, but it’s not enough. Customer service is the frontline and, if you get it right, a chance to really shine.
Start by thinking about the tone of voice you use when speaking to customers. The level of service you want to provide. The small, ‘surprise and delight’ gestures you can do that cost little and save you a lot in retention and lifetime value.
More and more, consumers are sharing their customer service experiences — both positively and negatively. Make sure you’re on the right side of the shout-out.
3. Be smarter about influencer marketing
At first glance, Fyre Festival may seem like an accomplishment in influencer marketing, but wait. Hold up. Let’s look at the actual data:
On December 12, Fyre Festival launched their influencer campaign, gaining over 300 million impressions in 24 hours. Sounds major, right?
In actuality, despite paying each influencer between $20k-$250k per each individual post 😷, their efforts didn’t translate into the sales you’d expect.
Despite telling investors that 40,000 tickets would be sold by March 31, by April 27, when the first unfortunate attendees arrived on the island, only 8,000 tickets had been sold. (Many of which were heavily discounted, meaning the influencer campaign failed to convert those impressions into actual, full price purchases. Damn.)
As Influencer Marketing Hub describes, “at the time of her post, Kendall Jenner had 72.5 million followers. If all 8,000 tickets sold could be attributed to Kendall Jenner’s plugging of the festival, that’s a little more than 0.01% of her fanbase.”
‘Influencers’ don’t often have much influence. If you ran a paid Instagram or Facebook campaign and it converted at 0.01%, you’d be horrified, no?
From my experience, the solution comes in the form of micro influencers. Smaller communities with real integrity and engagement, who cost less and have far greater impact.
Think about that one friend who always knows the best places to eat. If she recommended a restaurant to you, you’d listen. The premise remains the same with micro influencers and tastemakers: they’re not notorious for simply shouting about the highest bidder so, we, as their audience, listen.
4. Less ego, more empathy
To embody the lessons I’ve outlined above, it ultimately comes down to mindset. A mindset with less ego and more empathy.
In practical terms, this means asking yourself:
- What problem(s) are we really solving for the consumer?
- What value does this bring to the consumer first, rather than the business?
- And how can we ensure our communications reflects that?
Silicon Valley’s age-old mantra, “move fast and break things” needs an update. In 2019, it’s about integrity.
Move smartly and do the right thing.