You may not have seen them, heard about them, or even know how to find them. That’s because they like to keep it that way. They are an elite unit, working mostly undercover, with a plan for almost anything, and, more importantly, executing the plan with clockwork precision.
They are the Penguins of Madagascar, a bunch of cute and cuddly birds that are so popular, that Dreamworks decided to give them their own spin-off movie. Better still, they teach us some unusual marketing lessons.
But first, the key characters.
The leader of the motley group, a born, or rather hatched leader, who does not take no for an answer, and is always scheming his next move.
The analytics guy, who gathers intelligence and gives logical but impractical solutions.
The demolitions man. He is someone who pretty much swallows everything in sight and saves it for later use.
He’s the one who progresses from being a secretary/ mascot to an invaluable member.
Together, these penguins try to prevent ‘Dave the Octopus’ from global domination. But for us marketers, they are unsung heroes, for they teach us these 5 invaluable lessons.
- They reject nature.
The Penguins of Madagascar are known to be rebels, right from an early age, and that’s most evident when they refuse to walk in line like all other penguins. When an egg cuts loose and rolls away from the line, the other penguins just dismiss it as nature. But Skipper (the daredevil adventurous leader of the lot), says something profound that all marketers should treat as gospel:
Your early Marketing Strategy should be based on these lines.
Throw out the conventional, the known and the mundane. Make an effort to go against the flow, because, at an early stage, not only are you trying to find your own voice, you are also trying to be heard in a crowd where everyone is speaking, all at once.
The more unique your early marketing strategy, the better the chances that people will stand up (or rather sit down) and take notice. A blog with a bit of humour, a campaign video that tugs at an emotion, an infographic that is more than just numbers – these are all simple examples. Use your imagination, and more importantly, reject nature!
- They analyse this and that.
Skipper typically seeks Kowalski’s advice (whom he admits to be the brains behind every operation), on every tough situation. Although Kowalski’s predictions tend to be more pessimistic, they provide important insights into how marketers should operate.
Analysing how early marketing campaigns are working, not only gives headstart over competition, it also helps prevent costly marketing mistakes.
Don’t invest in a fancy sales automation tool if you’re only targeting a test audience. Instead, do A/B email campaign testing, and quantify how well your strategy is performing. And don’t forget, in Kowalski’s own words – be awesome.
- They make their own options.
When the Penguins are captured and sent in a cargo plane to a remote island, Kowalski says that their options are pretty much limited. But does that stop Skipper from taking action? If you’ve been reading so far, you should know by now that the answer is a big No! Skipper does something which they say is down in ‘Penguin history’.
Skipper “makes his own options“, and, as a Marketer, so should you.
Do not let a failed marketing campaign or reduced engagement rates curb your enthusiasm to push boundaries. If your blogs are not generating enough leads, try a different approach, like changing the tone or the language. Fight dismal email open rates by tweaking the subject line or try using short conversational sentences. Go where no penguin has gone, and, if you are out of options, create your own, like Skipper.
- Go big or go home.
The cuddly penguins start their adventures in Antarctica, and travel to far off locations such as Venice and Shanghai – quite an achievement, considering these are flightless little birds.
In marketing terms, this means that from the word go, create a marketing plan that’s big enough to traverse through continents, oceans and even dreams. Remember that in the vast cyberspace, there are no boundaries, and that customers come from everywhere.
So when you get to creating your next blog, ad campaign, promotional video, etc, start from a broader theme, then narrow down to focused groups.
Like the penguins, don’t let small things like national boundaries get in the way of global domination.
- They act human.
The best lesson, as always, is kept for the last. It is something so crucial yet so obvious that most marketing teams give it a miss.
The penguins are successful in their campaigns because they are masters of disguise, blending into any territory with ease.
For marketers, this means, having a call to Action (CTA) that is subtle and non-invasive to customers. No one likes loud banners that talks of freebies and discounts, that are irrelevant and intrusive.
Adding that little human touch (understand what customers want and giving them just that), instead of intrusive campaigning, goes a long way in gaining trust – since people tend to open up more to someone they think cares for them.
In summary, break the rules, think big, analyse, never run out of options, and stay subtle. Marketing, learnt from the most unlikely heroes, the Penguins of Madagascar.
So are you inspired to apply the Penguin philosophy to your marketing techniques?