To Make Your Message Stick, Make Your Audience Care.

I’m a sucker for Clydesdales.

In my last post, I discussed how to make your marketing message stick. As promised, this post looks at how to use GMC – Goal, Motivation, and Conflict – to make your marketing message sticky.

What does sticky marketing have to do with Clydesdales? Well, put marketing and Clydesdales together and what do you think of? Budweiser, of course, but not because their TV ads feature memorable characters with GMC. In fact most of the ads run together in my mind as a montage of beautiful horse images and frustration.

Why won’t they just show a clear, uncut 30-second video of the pretty horses?

In one Budweiser ad they do, and that ad is an excellent example of the power of GMC. Hank the Clydesdale doesn’t make the cut for the hitch team. “Maybe next year, Hank,” the trainer says. In the next 25 seconds, Hank becomes a character we root for.

His goal

to join the hitch team next year.

His motivation

as a Budweiser Clydesdale of course he wants to join the hitch team. (Why is Budweiser in the autocorrect dictionary?)

His conflict

he’s not strong enough to make the team.

With the help of his trusty Dalmatian coach, he pulls a train car, does agility work through a snowy forest, and – holy smokes! –  pulls an entire train. One year after his humiliation, the trainer says, “Welcome aboard, Hank.” Horse and dog do a high, er, 6?

If you’ve seen the ad, you remember it. Not because it’s clever, but because you care about Hank.

Here’s another example – “Where’s the beef?” a Wendy’s ad from the 1980s in which a little old lady orders a hamburger.

Her goal

Get a hamburger.

Her motivation

She’s hungry and doesn’t want to waste money.

Her conflict

The hamburgers at Wendy’s competitors have teeny tiny patties.

“Where’s the beef?” was an iconic ad series that Wendy’s used to re-invigorate sales. It was annoyingly sticky because of its crotchety main character and her famous tagline.

Now that you understand GMC in action, I’m sure you can think of many more ads and business stories that use it. With these examples in mind, think of a character to represent your business – employees, real customers, or your “ideal customer” – and share her (or him) with us in the comments below. Why will this character make your marketing messages stick?