"That's me!" How many times have you thought that to yourself after seeing an effective ad? As relevance is a key to good advertising, so "conditional positioning" is a key to relevance. In this example from the book, you'll see how Corona goes about helping you see yourself enjoying their cold beverage on a warm beach. Don't ignore this incredibly important tactic in marketing to boomers.
From Page 90
The key to successful storytelling in marketing, however, is to not tell the whole story in a literal fashion. Because everyone's experiences are different, if you tell a simple, straightforward story about a specific individual, a consumer may or may not relate to such experiences. However, if you include open-ended elements, consumers can relate those to their own unique experiences, thus allowing them to insert themselves into the scenario. Consider our example above. In this case, virtually anyone can imagine themselves riding on the Harley, even Carol, Mary, or Robert. This technique of open-ended messaging is known as conditional positioning. Cognitive research has shown that the human brain will finish incomplete pictures or fill in missing information based on personal experiences.
Even more important, from a marketing perspective, consumers will fill in incomplete information in a way that benefits them. Try it.
Think about spending a night on the town with someone special. What happens during the evening? What do you do? Where do you go?
If you're like most adults, you probably finished the story with a pleasant dinner, meeting friends at a bar, or simply enjoying some entertainment. By nature, most people are unlikely to finish the story by thinking about a noisy restaurant with bad food or an unpleasant argument with your companion. Instead we'll "fill in the blanks" in a predisposed manner that is favorable to ourselves. Borrowing again from Seth Godin's storytelling blog post: "Great stories are subtle. Surprisingly, the fewer details a marketer spells out, the more powerful the story becomes. Talented marketers understand that allowing people to draw their own conclusions is far more effective than announcing the punch line." In addition, when you force consumers to finish an incomplete story, they draw on their existing knowledge base, thus making more connections within their brain, which helps your messages not only survive information triage, but also become more memorable.
Finally, conditional positioning is the best way to allow consumers to insert themselves into a scenario because it presents your brand in a customer-centric manner, rather than with a product-centric focus. Through conditional positioning you make the messaging and imagery focused on the consumer and their needs, not on your brand and its features.
Imagery and photos can play a particularly important role in the conditional positioning of your brand because the photos need to invite consumers to insert themselves into the picture rather than showing someone else interacting with your brand. The photos and images need to be suggestive, rather than definitive.
Take a look at Corona Extra's website:
Can you picture yourself on a beach, ready to crack open a beer? I certainly can. This homepage is a great example of conditional positioning through imagery. Not only can you insert yourself into this image, but if this beach isn't quite to your taste, Corona also offers a variety of others (see the thumbnail images and arrows below the main image) that you can choose to fit your personality and mood.