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What Makes a Best of the Best Winner? Part II

What Makes a Best of the Best Winner? Part II

Before we talk about Topaz Lighting, I’d like to share something I learned last October. I attended a two-day digital summit in Chicago featuring more than 40 workshops on content marketing, email, social media, SEO, data and user experience. The final session, called “The Art of the Laugh,” was presented by actor and comedian Michael “Big Mike” Albanese, who also emceed the event.

Big Mike told us a very personal story about his heart problem and the procedures used to diagnose and address his problem. Sounds serious, right? I’m sure it was at the time; but the way he told it was hilarious! Knowing how tempting it is for marketers to use humor, Big Mike gave us three pointers about how to succeed at using humor.

  1. Know your audience.
    You certainly don’t want to offend your audience. (Big Mike warned us ahead of time that he would use some raw language.) You don’t want to insult their intelligence; but you don’t want talk above their heads, either. Knowing demographics like age, education, gender and occupations can help you adapt your speech, presentation, or content. Finally, be authentic and true to your brand; don’t try to be someone or something you’re not.
  2. Take risks.
    If you do and say what everyone else is doing and saying, you won’t differentiate yourself from the competition. So why would they buy your brand or product over someone else’s? To stand out, do something different, unexpected, and unique, whether in your marketing, customer service, or business practices. Of course, stay away from anything political or socially insensitive.
  3. Leave some skin in the game.
    Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. If you’re willing to open up and poke fun at yourself as a brand or company, people will respond. You will likely get both positive and negative feedback, because comedy is subjective; it’s never 100% right or 100% wrong. (Besides, that would be boring.) You probably won’t lose the customers who already know and like you, and you just may win big with those who don’t know you.

If “Big Mike” can make a heart condition funny, surely we can have some fun with electrical products.


Topaz Lighting brings sexy (and fun) back to lighting.

Take Topaz Lighting, for example. They put a new spin on an old product line by injecting a little humor and personality into their “Friendly Tips” campaign.

Customers are tired of the same old story.

Topaz realized that lighting customers were seeing the same three types of ads: new product announcements, product instructional/time-saving tutorials, and finally, the product portfolio. Companies’ branding messages were also similar, touting product availability, fast delivery, depth and breadth of product, and excellent customer service. So Topaz took a different tack.

Show them your personality!

To set itself apart from the competitors, Topaz personified these non-descript products and put them in human situation—looking in a mirror, doing yoga, pumping iron, and having a dinner date.

The “Friendly Tips” campaign also reinforced their branding message of being, “the easiest and friendliest company to do business with.” The tongue-in-cheek copy tied in with themed headlines. For example, the “Bring Sexy Back” ad offered “attractive solutions” and help with “accessorizing or maybe a total makeover.” The dinner date ad offered “a little bit of love” and “hook up advice.” The yoga ad offered “flexible solutions.” Nice work, guys.

Make a strong impression!

The Best of the Best judges loved this refreshing print campaign, calling it creative, innovative, arresting, memorable, and unexpected. Said one judge (me), “It’s just fun and different; that’s what drew me in. As soon as I saw it I said to myself, ‘sold, winner, done.’ I’m so tired of seeing the same things, and I’m sure their audience is, too.” Yes, the judges read the strategy statement and copy; but we shortly reached consensus, calling this a “hands-down winner.”


Submissions now open!

The 2018 tED magazine Best of the Best Competition is now open for submissions and closes on Friday, March 2. So collect your best campaigns, ads, literature, selling tools, product launches, PR efforts, videos and other marketing efforts—and work on those strategy statements.

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Katrina Olson  is a marketing and public relations consultant, trainer/coach, and host of a monthly podcast called Market Boldly, available on iTunes and Google Play. She has written for tED magazine's print edition since 2005, judged tED magazine's Best of the Best Competition since 2006, and also writes for the new lightEDmag.com and lightED Weekly. She can be reached at Katrina@katrinaolson.com or via her website at katrinaolson.com.

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