Guerrilla Creativity: Make Your Message Irresistible with the Power of Memes

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9780618104680: Guerrilla Creativity: Make Your Message Irresistible with the Power of Memes
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The guru of the Guerrilla Marketing series, which has sold more than one million copies, shows small business owners how to cut through the clutter of new information with simple, powerful ideas that customers will find irresistible.

Today, with more than four thousand marketing messages assailing consumers daily, it is more important than ever to create an original, appealing, and memorable message. Marketer extraordinaire Jay Conrad Levinson shows readers how to craft such messages using memes -- simple symbols that represent complex ideas.
Memes can be words, such as Lean Cuisine or "Remember the Alamo," or they can be images, such as the Red Cross or Betty Crocker. They can even be actions, like drenching a victorious coach with a barrelful of Gatorade. The best memes can propel a product or service to the pinnacle of success.
As no other book has done before, GUERILLA CREATIVITY shows how even someone who doesn't consider himself creative can make memes that work. Using a variety of examples of memes both good and bad, Levinson guides readers step by step through the process of fashioning marketing materials that result in increased sales, savings, market share, and profits. Along the way he reveals the fifty reasons people buy things, the ten biggest marketing myths, ways to make your message instill hope, surprise, and urgency, and many more wise, surprising notions that readers can readily translate into profits.

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About the Author:

Jay Conrad Levinson is the author of more than a dozen books in the Guerrilla Marketing series. A former vice president and creative director at J. Walter Thompson Advertising and Leo Burnett Advertising, he is the chairman of Guerrilla Marketing International, a consulting firm serving large and small businesses worldwide.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1
The Purpose of Creativity
Not Producing Art but
Changing Human Behavior

THE PREHISTORIC MAN Uba spent all day in the drizzling rain trying to
catch a fish because his family desperately needed food. But Uba
couldn"t grab a fish from the stream, though he occasionally got his
hands on one. Frustrated and weak from hunger, he just couldn"t grab
any fish firmly enough before it slithered from his hands and
returned to the stream. Worse yet, the drizzle turned to a downpour,
and Uba was forced to seek shelter in a nearby cave.
When his eyes became accustomed to the dark, he noticed a
series of paintings in the cave. One depicted a deer. Another showed
a godlike figure.
But it was the third that captured his attention. There on
the cave wall was a simple drawing of a man holding a long stick. At
the end of the stick, a fish was impaled. Suddenly Uba got the idea!
Within an hour he returned to his family carrying five fish, all of
which he had caught with a sharpened stick. Uba"s family was saved by
a meme.
A meme is a self-explanatory symbol, using words, action,
sounds, or, in this case, pictures that communicate an entire idea.
Uba may have discovered history"s first meme.
Memes can do a lot more than save a family. Memes can save a
business as well and propel it into a high-profit mode. Guerrilla
creativity means enlisting the wondrous power of memes in your
marketing.
What you don"t know about creativity
What you don"t know about creativity subtracts from your potential
profits every year. What you are about to learn will add to your
profits — now and forever. It"s something as foreign to you as the
Internet was back in the 1970s — but every bit as important as the
Internet is now when it comes to your company"s profitability.
This book is about creativity in marketing — guerrilla
creativity. Creativity in marketing is very different from creativity
in the arts. Memes in marketing are about profits. And guerrilla
creativity has at its core a meme. That"s why the star of this book,
and the key to true guerrilla creativity, is a meme.
The wheel is a meme. The Green Giant is a meme. You"ll become
aware of many more memes as you read on, but mainly you"ll discover
the astonishing lack of memes in marketing. Bad as this is, it"s a
great opportunity for guerrillas.
Guerrilla creativity tells you it"s time for your company to
have its own meme. Guerrilla creativity suggests that if you get in
your prospects" faces with your meme, they will make it part of their
family.

What memes do

Memes travel. Memes spread. Memes are viral. In fact, in scientific
circles they"re referred to as "mind viruses." Memes are simple to
create. And memes can goose your company"s profitability, not to
mention civilization itself.
Memes save you money because they implant a message that"s
repeated to the point where people are clear on what you offer and
you don"t have to constantly change your marketing campaign. They
break through the sensory overload that increases every day. The
bigger that overload, the more you need a meme for your company.
Richard Dawkins, an Oxford biologist who coined the word meme
in 1976 in his book The Selfish Gene, defines it as a basic unit of
cultural transmission or imitation. Guerrilla marketers define it as
the essence of an idea, expressed as a symbol or set of words, an
action or a sound . . . or all of these.
You must know three things about the meme:
1. It"s the lowest common denominator of an idea, a
basic unit of communication.
2. It can alter human behavior, and in guerrilla
marketing that means motivating people to buy whatever the guerrilla
offers.
3. It is simplicity itself, easily understandable in a
matter of seconds.
Memes make perfect partners for marketing campaigns, in which
ideas must stand apart in an ocean of other ideas and be communicated
instantly — or else.
Within two seconds a meme conveys who you are and why someone
should buy from you instead of a competitor. It also can trigger an
emotional response and generate a desire.
Meme power
The essence of guerrilla creativity is creating marketing that has
meme power. Guerrilla creativity is dreaming up a symbol or words,
actions or sounds, that convey a concept anybody can understand
instantly and easily.
Creativity in the arts is about enjoyment, self-expression,
and beauty. Creativity in marketing is not about these aesthetic
concerns but about profits, selling, motivating. Creativity in
marketing is about how your product or service improves lives.
Your profits will rise if you create a simple meme for your
business, then promote it for years, decades — centuries if possible.
This can be done with words (Lean Cuisine), pictures (the
Marlboro cowboy), sounds (the "Ho-ho-ho" of the Jolly Green Giant),
actions (Clydesdales pulling the Budweiser wagon), or imagery (flames
depicting Burger King"s flame-broiled hamburgers). Memes have been
the architects of human behavior since the beginning of time. The
wheel was a major improvement in transportation and conveyance, but
it was also a meme because it was a self-explanatory symbol
representing a complete idea. Once you see a wheel, you immediately
know how to use it and why it"s so useful. No explanation is
necessary.

Where memes are born

Memes are born through knowledge and research. They work their
wonders by engaging the unconscious minds of your prospects. Although
they"ve been around since the beginning of humankind, and even since
the beginning of life on earth — since life forms often leave behind
meme-like signals such as half-eaten shrubbery, scat and shells,
which trigger behaviors in other life forms — memes are relatively
new to marketing. I know that meme is a new word to you, but then
again, so was the word Internet a scant decade ago.
Right now I urge you to put aside for a moment what you think
you know about creativity. Transfer your focus from the kind of
creativity it takes to create beauty and splendor, symphonies and
literature, dance and sculpture, and refocus on the production of
profits.
Creativity in the arts enlightens, delights, moves, and
satisfies. Creativity in marketing changes human behavior. Creativity
that accomplishes this goal is true guerrilla creativity.
The primary purpose of guerrilla creativity is to instill
enough trust and confidence in your offering that people will be
motivated to purchase it — the end result being profits for your
company. Yes, guerrilla creativity does employ art to accomplish the
goals of business. Marketing uses nearly all the art forms — writing,
art, design, music, dance, acting — but it uses them for a different
purpose than that pursued by a Shakespeare or a Baryshnikov. I
believe that the great masters in art, music, and literature might
have been geniuses at guerrilla creativity. Still, Ernest Hemingway
observed that writing advertising is a lot more difficult than
writing for the pure sake of art. It does seem a lot simpler to
create something that inspires a person than to create something that
will persuade that same person to part with his or her hard-earned
dollars.
Creativity of the guerrilla variety combines the creativity
of the arts with the science of human behavior and the business of
generating profits — all in a quest to get people to change their
minds and sincerely want what you offer.
The purpose of guerrilla creativity
Guerrilla creativity must inform rather than entertain. In artistic
creativity, an error can be covered with white paint and repainted;
an error in a music composition can be rescored; an error in
architecture can be covered with ivy. But an error in marketing
creativity results in the loss of a lot of money. Ivy won"t help.
As with creativity in the arts, guerrilla creativity entails
taking risks. It embraces failure as part of the creative process if
that failure teaches a valuable lesson, as it often does. Guerrilla
creativity must make a deep impression on the target audience. In
these pages, you"ll learn how to make that impression. You"ll
discover how to marry it to persuasion and induce each of your
prospects to participate in the marketing process.
Creativity has often been defined as the combining of two or
more elements — with imagination as well as technical skill — that
have never before been combined. Guerrilla marketing embraces this
definition but carries it further: creativity is causing human beings
to change their minds to the point where they want to purchase what
you are offering to sell.
The purpose of creativity for many an artist is self-
expression. Unfortunately, many who now toil in the creative
departments of advertising agencies or companies also create
marketing materials for the sake of self-expression, much to the
dismay of those concerned with the company"s bottom line.
Making the guerrilla"s job easier
The job of the guerrilla who creates marketing materials is made
immensely simpler when he or she enlists the power of a meme. Memes
make it easier for prospects to understand why they should become
customers. Uba the caveman didn"t have to engage in much deep
thinking before he got the point of the meme he saw in the cave.
These days I view far too many television commercials and print ads
that force me to engage in seriously deep thought just to determine
who the heck the advertiser is, what the company makes, and why I
should give it my business. The fact that I have to think so hard to
grasp those commercials suggests that their creators didn"t think
enough about the things guerrilla marketers must know well.
The birthplace of guerrilla creativity is knowledge. The more
knowledge you have, the more creative you can be. The more knowledge
you have, the more inspired you can be. The more knowledge you have,
the more likely you are to succeed at the true purpose of guerrilla
creativity.
Where is a guerrilla to seek knowledge? From his customers,
to be sure. Also from his prospects. He seeks it from his
competitors, from his industry, from his community, and from the
events of the day. He seeks and gains even more knowledge from the
economic trends of the times, from businesses like his own, and
definitely from his product or service. Certainly he seeks it from
successful marketing in the past, from the current status of the
media, and these days more than ever, from existing technology. The
Internet is a treasure trove of knowledge for those who would engage
in guerrilla creativity.
Rembrandt as a guerrilla
Do you think Rembrandt would have employed computer technology and
the Internet to create his works of art? I think he would have. And
so would Shakespeare and Mozart and many of the other masters of fine
art. One of the keys to creativity has always been curiosity, and I
can"t help but believe that the creative geniuses of the past were
highly curious people. My guess is that they, just like the
guerrilla, had a well-honed sense of wonder. Most of them learned
that the more in touch they were with the world around them, the more
creative they could be.
Like the guerrilla marketer, they probably had an
unquenchable and instinctive desire to learn. But nevertheless, they
had it easy compared to you. You have to get people to write a check,
take out their credit card, or put in a purchase order. Do that and
you"ve earned your creative wings.
Guerrilla creativity may not unleash that creative genius
said to be lurking within your mind. It may not give wings to your
soul. It may not astound people with the sheer beauty of your
creation. It may not inspire thoughts of love, of holiness, of the
magnificence of humankind.
Those are not its tasks. Its task is to create a desire for
your product or service. Beauty alone cannot accomplish this.
Artistic prowess cannot either. In my career in advertising agencies,
I had the singularly unpleasant task of firing many multi-talented
artists and writers who were blessed with an artistic muse but
totally clueless when it came to altering human behavior.
"I hate to tell you this, Mr. da Vinci, but your Mona Lisa,
pretty and mysterious as she is, does no more than a hill of beans
when it comes to selling insurance. But don"t worry — I"m giving you
three months" severance pay."
Had Leonardo portrayed Mona Lisa cupping her hands in front
of her to show you"re in good hands with the insurance company she
was promoting, I probably would have promoted him to senior art
director.
So here I am, imploring you to understand that creativity in
marketing is quite different from creativity in the fine arts. But
I"m not going to leave you out on a limb. Instead, I"m giving you a
method, a nearly magical method, for accomplishing guerrilla
creativity. I will show you, step by step, how to create a meme to
make your job of generating profits easier, to make your prospects"
job of wanting to buy what you are selling easier, and to put a wide
grin on your accountant"s face when he or she reviews your financial
records.

Why genius is not necessary

You need not be a creative whiz to exercise dynamite guerrilla
creativity. You don"t have to be a fine writer, an accomplished
artist, a killer photographer, or a superb playwright to be a
successful creator of marketing that beautifies your bottom line.
All you must be is a clear thinker, a tireless researcher,
and a realistic person. You must be passionate as well, not about
beauty and art, but about your product or service. It also helps a
lot if you care more about profits than about compliments and awards.
Sound mercenary? That"s my point. The pursuit of profits has rarely,
if ever, been the prime motivator for a great artistic master. But it
is the central ambition of a master of guerrilla creativity.
Roy H. Williams, known as "the Wizard of Ads," reminds us of
the differences between some writers of radio commercials. Tell "em,
Roy: "Average writers position the listener as an uninvolved
bystander. Good writers position the listener as an interested
observer. Great writers involve the listener as an active
participant." To this I would add: "Guerrilla writers motivate the
listener to deeply crave whatever it is they are writing about."
Guerrilla writers know how to instill trust and confidence in
the minds of their audience. They create marketing that doesn"t
really sound or feel like marketing.

The heart of a message

Creativity of the guerrilla persuasion has as its final message
something that deeply impresses the audience. They are not impressed
with the words or the pictures, with the music or the special
effects. They are not impressed with the celebrity endorser or the
eye-popping photograph. Instead, they are deeply impressed with the
idea. Uba didn"t grunt one word about the art in the meme he
discovered in that cave. But he was moved to take action by the idea.
That"s always the highlight of a guerrilla marketing message. If you
don"t communicate an idea, you"re communicating the wrong things.
You"ll always find persuasion at the heart o...

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