WOLFBITES - Issue 40

What small business owners can learn from the genius marketing of the Olympics

Cheering sports fans watching Olympics, the subject of a blog by Toronto copywriter Wolfgang Franke, who is also president of Words at Work, the best Toronto ad agency specializing in small business advertising, including social media advertising, web marketing, Facebook advertising and freelance copywriter services.

With the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang South Korea just weeks away, this is the perfect time to reveal what every small business owner can learn from the hall-of-fame marketing of the games by the American TV networks. 

There is a very specific blueprint, introduced more than a quarter century ago, that is followed in every round of the Olympics. Winter Games, Summer Games. It doesn't matter. The same "Magic Beans" are used again and again. So what is the secret?  Do they focus on the glamor sports? No. Do they promote the big match ups? No. Do they hype the spectacle of the Olympics. No.

They do something far more important: establish an emotional connection between the audience and the athletes by broadcasting, in advance of the games, touching profiles of the athletes, highlighting their struggles, fears, dreams. When the Games arrive, the unknown athletes are living, breathing people the audience cares about – which was the goal all along. Make viewers watch by making them care about the athletes.

Note there is no hard sell, which is typically what you see in small business advertising. Instead, the goal is to establish an emotional connection. This is not easy or simple. It does not happen overnight. And it only works if you dare to be… human.

Even a small personal touch can make a difference. For example, we captured the interest of a significant advertiser because the business owner liked that our "Meet the staff web page" included a photo of our dog and some text that noted he was our "Directory of Security." He thought that was creative and fun – which was exactly what he wanted for his campaign.  Most important, he had connected with us as people. We were no longer just one more advertising agency.

You will always do better if you remember this simple rule of marketing, which is at the heart of the Olympics marketing strategy: people connect with people, they don't connect with things – not even a thing as big as the Olympics.

Pick up more advertising and marketing tips for small business on the WolfBites page of my website, Words at Work. You may also be interested in Head to Head, my analysis of the best and worst small business advertising, featuring real ads by real small businesses.

PS: See this Subaru TV commercial for a pitch-perfect execution of an advertisement that is all about making an emotional connection, not a fast sale.


Wolfgang Franke is President & Creative Director of Words at Work Advertising & Marketing, a full service communications company established in 1988. Our growing list of valued clients are found throughout our local market, Markham and the Greater Toronto area, across Canada in cities such as London, Ontario, and Edmonton, Alberta, and an expanding list of international locations ranging from The Big Apple in New York to Kanturk, Ireland.




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