Negamarketing

CAREER

November 30, 2021

Joy Youell

Joy Youell is an expert copywriter and content strategist.

We are all sick of marketing. We're sick of being told what we want, being told something is better than it is, being told this is the best price it will ever be. Let's face it: we're living life on screens these days, and the overwhelm of advertising is... exhausting. And I'm literally a professional marketer. SO. If I feel sick of it, I'm pretty sure everyone else does too.

A few months ago, the Hire a Writer Slack channel got... weird... as it does from time to time... and we started asking ourselves, "what if we did the opposite of marketing?" It's not a completely new idea (although I think we coined the phrase - or maybe Alex did).

Stuff like that. So, as we thought about it more and more we realized: this is therapeutic. Too many marketers take themselves and their success so seriously. People want authenticity. And so, it made us laugh. And so we made more of it. And now we have a book.

Here are some excerpts (the workbook is interactive - comes with scissors, watercolor paints, colored pencils and glue - and it isn't for sale). LOL

The Negamarketing Workbook: For Everyone Who's Sick of Marketing

It's been a tough few years for marketers. Relentless messages, demanding production cycles, and having to deliver measurable results.

"Sure, I can edit that."

"No, I wasn't sleeping."

That stops here.

This is our way to vent.

The Concept of Anti-Marketing

Negamarketing isn't a brand-new concept (although we think we may have coined the phrase). While this workbook is all about channeling your inner darkness and deepest hankering for ridiculous nonsense, the tactic is actually something you can use in real life as a professional marketer. Here's how:

  • Creative exclusionary personas, or nega-personas, that are the opposite of who you want to target in marketing. Same process as creating regular personas, only you do the Seinfeld "nega-Jerry" thing (or nega-Scott, if you'd rather the Pilgrim metaphor).
  • Be so over-the-top and extreme that it's a) clearly a joke and b) the reader is in on it. Like, nudge nudge wink wink know what I mean? "We all agree that this is insanity/inanity/ridiculous."
  • Use negative language. Duh. "Here's what's wrong with," "Is this hurting you?" "No one cares about," "Why bother with..." that kind of thing.
  • Elevate the villains. Every good storytelling marketing moment has a bad guy. People love it and are incentivized to engage because of it. In negamarketing, the villains play center stage (and may not be defeated at all).
  • Take a stupid position on something kind of controversial. "We'll say it: black licorice is better. We don't care what you think." It's funny and it elicits an immediate emotional reaction in the reader.
  • Use data to drive home your point. This is really not exclusive to negamarketing but it's a sound principle and one you can't ignore.
  • Lean into awkward. This is actually becoming increasingly mainstream: own it. Don't be afraid to push the envelope a little and be weird and dark.

Can this backfire?

Oh, sure.

But, you know, we don't care. It's not our careers on the line.

(See what we did there?)

Underwhelming Facts

The French word for 'croissant' is 'croissant'.

On some Mondays, dolphins have been seen swimming in the sea.

Antarctica is the continent with the least ice cream.

Phones can ring louder than a possum can sneeze.

A decathlon is made up of 10 events.

Beethoven never had a high score in Pac-Man.

There are more than 526 rasberries in Berlin.

Think Negative

Here's a writing activity: "Think Negative Mad-Libs"

One day, _______  realized they were out of _________, so they went to the store and found the _______iest _______ they could find. Taking it home, they found out right away it was actually _______ and ________ed their _______. They decided from now on the would only ________ with _______. Problem solved.

Anatomy of a Bad Ad

"Bait and Switch"

a.k.a. Clickbait

a.k.a. Cheating

"Misleading Comparison"

a.k.a. The table you made

a.k.a. The features you made up

"Price Deception"

a.k.a. Everyone in our industry pretending subscriptions are a good deal for the consumer.

Negative Value Propositions

Not shown here are awful tagline exercises, bad online reviews, facts that are a major bummer, and reasons "people basically suck" (included in the book. One thing that is worth mentioning (and is an actual, useful marketing tactic), is negative value propositions. For example:

You've had worse.

Almost no one cares.

In the book, we pair with this a writing exercise: "It's Good Enough: A Haiku"

Ours:

It's okay, I think.

It barely even burns now.

I'm probably fine.

Write your own:

5 syllables: __________________

7 syllables: __________________

5 syllables: __________________

Reverse Psychology Marketing

We delivered this as a coloring page.

Negamarketing: the Book You Can Never Buy

Because it's ours. You probably wouldn't like it anyway.

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