What Ryan Reynolds Taught Me About Marketing

A feeling of nostalgia came over me this week as I heard rumours of the return of Blockbuster video in the London area. Sadly, it was only a two day event specifically designed to promote the the DVD and Blue-ray (yes they still exist!) release of Ryan Reynolds’ action packed film Deadpool 2. If customers showed up with an old Blockbuster card they would receive a limited edition VHS case for the film - otherwise they could act out a superpower and win a free copy of it instead.

Apart from the sentiment I felt for an organization that kept my weekends full of comedic fun; it mostly inspired me remember the hilariousness that is Ryan Reynolds, and how he approaches every marketing channel with one goal. Make it funny.

Recently Ryan was on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon where he took the opportunity to promote his newest venture, Aviation Gin. He also shared that in more recent months, he has used his out-of-office emails as an effective marketing maneuver to create a buzz around the product. After sharing his email address publicly, he prepared multiple responses that left recipients in stitches.

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He then proceeded to receive over 20,000 emails over the course of one day which in turn crashed his servers. His Twitter response to this was classically sarcastic and totally what we’d expect from Mr. Reynolds.

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The gin brand reported that this clever retort peaked the interest of retailers and restaurants alike who all have the potential to carry the product. #marketingwin

But this isn’t the first we’ve seen of Ryan’s genius marketing flair. He has kept his Twitter audiences entertained through the years via comical tweets poking fun at everything from gluten to his own daughter.

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This is a prime example of using a social platform to show off personality and promote engagement. Truly one of my favs on Twitter and a great example of using social in an effective way that gets people talking.

Marketing efforts for the first Deadpool movie were hugely effective and part of that involved Reynolds’ personality. We weren’t sure where Reynolds started and Deadpool ended and the audiences seemed to eat it up!

Through a ton of campaigns including a risque photoshoot resembling Burt Reynolds’ famous nude spread in Cosmopolitan, a Deadpool beauty pageant hosted by Reynolds himself or an email newsletter sent out to the Deadpool email list as part of the ‘Twelve Days of Deadpool.’; this movie was all anyone could talk about.


Video was also a huge part of the marketing plan - a variety of videos and trailers were made all with a different theme and approach to the movie keeping one thing constant throughout.

They were all bloody hilarious!

Comedy was the main focus around every part of Deadpool’s marketing rollout - not exactly what you’d expect given that it’s a superhero movie right? That’s the pure genius behind this entire campaign.  

But as crazy as it might sound to massage Conan O’Brien, elicit a war with Wolverine and advertise on a giant billboard with a poop emoji; Deadpool aka Ryan Reynolds clearly knows how to make an impact.

Despite the context, Ryan seems to take every opportunity and make it somehow ok to laugh.This type of comedic, no holds barred marketing can stand to be used in many more campaigns and by many more companies.

Keep us laughing Ryan, keep us laughing.


8 Tips For Winning Black Friday Retail Marketing

It’s September, do you know when your Black Friday prep should start?

The answer….right freakin now!

As a retailer, whether large or small, you should be aware that Black Friday and it’s ever elusive sister Cyber Monday will be heading our way starting November 23rd. These two days saw a whopping £1.4bn spent online alone in the UK in 2017. That number is only set to increase and retailers have already started preparing.

For the giants like Amazon or Argos, big budget marketing can make a huge impact in getting shoppers into their shops and onto their websites. Advertising spend for any keywords associated to Black Friday/Cyber Monday are going to be well out of reach for a retailer with a limited budget as CPC rates soar during this time. It can be a bit of a daunting task to try to compete!  

Thankfully, having worked with some of the largest retailers in the world has allowed me to pick up on some tips that can benefit any retailer with a smaller budget looking to leverage this most sacred day.

→ Start earlier! There should be a lead up to the major sales you’re offering for Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Don’t assume you’ll be able to captivate your audience the Thursday before. If you start rolling out your communications early on, you start the conversation around what they can expect.

→ Email marketing is key so SEGMENT your database. Don’t send an email about a sale on men’s trousers to your female database….chances are they didn’t visit your site for that reason (unless you ONLY sell men’s trousers, then carry on). Personalization is extremely important if you want to stand out amongst the hundreds of other Black Friday emails.

→ Personalize without being creepy. If there was ever a time to really dig deep into your data and look at trends, habits and behaviours - this is the time! Be conscious of location, time zones and look into geofencing technology which can deliver content or advertisements to a website user based on their geographic location.



→ With the recent rumours of Instagram set to be moving further into e-commerce with a stand-alone shopping app - you need to make sure your social media channels are ON POINT! They should tell your brand story through imagery and short text and be pleasant to go back to to time and time again. As a smaller business, I would advise not to overstretch your resources. Decide on which platforms work best for your business and cross promote instead of posting the same image across the board. Forbes reports “distinct demographics have grown up around each platform and expectations can change depending on which one they happen to be using at any given moment. As a result, you can be more personal on Facebook, more professional on LinkedIn, punchier on Twitter and more emoticon-friendly on Instagram.” Use this to your company’s advantage. Commit your time to the #socialgame.

→ Give them something to get excited for - whether it’s a new product, limited time solution or a preview of features to come. Your customers want to feel special so giving them an exclusive sneak peek of a new product or feature is a great way to get/keep them engaged even after BF/CM has come and gone.

→ Create bespoke visuals for Black Friday/Cyber Monday that communicate the brand message and stand out from the other retailers. Create gift guides that show off your products and help tell your story.

→ Extend the sale past Black Friday/Cyber Monday and offer something different. You don’t have to close down shop at 11:59 pm on Cyber Monday - you can continue to roll out the deals but in a creative way. One example is to focus on any products that maintain well-being, are relaxing or can be used to promote that “much needed after shopping rest”. Your audience is certainly going to appreciate that you can relate to the madness of the season more so than if you try to get them to buy items they don’t actually need.

→ Stay in the know - if there are trending hashtags, quotes, memes and you’re targeting a specific type of buyer, use them! There are way too many posts that receive almost no engagement because they’ve either not used hashtags, aren’t using the right ones or completely missed the mark on what’s trending. Know-your-audience! If you are trying to engage, do your homework to understand what is on trend. If you’re really at a loss (and need some Insta-help!) download the latest Instagram Cheat Sheet for Startups & SME’s here!

📣For free access to our 2018 Instagram for Startups Cheat Sheet, sign up HERE and I’ll send it through!

Make My Business 'Instagrammable'

Häagen-Dazs, the ice cream giant, recently unveiled some of their newest designs for a completely reimagined brand. Their one request to the agency they brought on board; make us Instagrammable.  

Now this may seem like a silly request to some but unless you’ve already made the pilgrimage to Mars and currently reside on a giant red rock, you should have noticed that Instagram has become a huge driver for both brand and sales in the FMCG world. According to TechCrunch, Instagram hit 1 billion monthly users in June 2018, after hitting 800 million monthly users last September. The majority of those users are in the 18-24 year old category, followed by the 25-34 year category. That’s right...the millennials.


Now Häagen-Dazs is a huge, multi-million dollar company with deep pockets so suffice it to say they were able to dig deep with massive budgets and huge ad spend. However I’m more interested in the smaller brands, the startups, and the one-man shows. I’d like to see how they can navigate the world of Instagram with the hopes of making a huge impact, getting noticed, and helping grow their business.

  1. Create a space, whether it’s physical or online, that represents your brand and be consistent. You want consumers to recognize your brand and to do this you need consistency throughout all of your mediums. Website, social media and in-store (if applicable) should all tell the same story and represent the same characteristics. You can always tell when you see an Apple product, whether it’s in-store, online or on the tube - you know it’s Apple just by looking at it. That’s the goal.
  2. Be creative. If you do have a physical location, you have the opportunity to build a space that is completely ‘Instagrammable’. I’m still so surprised when I go to a beauty salon and they don’t have a selfie light, camera and designated space to show off the services they’ve just provided you. Such a wasted opportunity to show off your creative flair! A great example of how to get it right is London’s local bakery, Peggy Porschen. Their page is great but how they have really achieved success is by creating a space just outside their shop that is completely on brand and built for Instagram photos. They encourage everyone from bloggers to influencers to passers-by to take a photo and tag their location. It has recently been named one of London’s top five most Instagrammable places by TravelPlug.
  3. Your vibe attracts your tribe. Make sure you are creating content to attract your desired audience. One of the issues that Häagen-Dazs faced was that their brand felt “unapproachable and unattainable” which was preventing them from connecting with their desired audience and making them look dated. Their goal was to build more of a personal connection with their customers to ensure they were top of mind - especially with the disruptive new brands entering the market.
  4. Follow the rules of the gram. There are reasons beyond a great image as to why some companies get a ton of followers and great engagement. Instagram, like any social platform, has certain tricks and hacks that allow you to reach more people, engage with people outside of your network and ultimately create a following of potential customers.

For free access to our 2018 Instagram for Startups Cheat Sheet, submit your name and email HERE and we’ll send it through!  

Now go on, and do it for the gram!

Tell Me A Story About Your Startup

After two days at the Unbound Festival filled with unlimited panel sessions, networking events and innovative startups looking to meet their next big client, one thing is clear; marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.

Ok so that’s a direct quote from one of greats, Seth Godin but in this case it applies. Storytelling was a huge topic and even those who didn’t cover it specifically, presented their topics through the art of storytelling. Engaging with the audience, taking them through a journey and making them “think, feel and do” was an overarching theme (and great advice from Globant during their session!).

So why is this the new normal and what advantage does it have for marketers, startups and everyone in between? Because as Steve Jobs said once upon a time, “don’t sell products, sell dreams”. And what is a dream if nothing but a story?

Your customers no longer want you to talk to them in length about the features your product offers. They want you to paint a picture around how easy life will become, how profitable their business could be and how much growth they can experience with your specific solution.

Get it? Here’s an example in case it’s unclear.

Scenario one...you go to the ice cream shop and the person behind the counter asks you if you’d like a regular cone or waffle cone but lets you do all of the work in choosing your flavour. Sure, you’re happy - you get your cone and leave.

Scenario two...you go into the shop and the person behind the counter asks you if you want a regular cone or waffle cone...but then also mentions that “Idris Elba came in the other week and ordered a vanilla soft serve with waffle cone and sprinkles, swears it’s the best he’s ever had and vows never to visit another ice cream shop again. He has decided to invest and is likely to show up from time to time to sample the other flavours.

Which scenario stood out to you more? Which one was a story that drew you in and captured your attention? And which one was a casual everyday occurrence that won’t stand out and will likely be forgotten?  

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So how does this help you market your business? More importantly, how can you tell a story that will have a lasting effect and impact?

→ Understand your audience. Are you speaking to businesses or consumers? Millennials or Gen Z? Male or Female? Knowing your audience is a vital part of storytelling - it can determine the language you use, the length of a presentation or the tone you speak in.

→ Set the Stage. The right time, the right place, the right presentation. It makes all of the difference. Take your audience on a journey with you by making them feel as though they are part of the story.

→ Test and Iterate..yes that’s startup talk. Test different approaches to really validate your content and how it’s received by your audience(s).

→ Connect.. Emotionally and Physically. The more involved you are in the story, the more you can captivate your audience. According to Campaign Live: Telling a brand story doesn’t have to mean a huge budget or a big production with endless special effects or props. Some of the best brand films have been shot overnight or in a day, using handheld cameras or very little kit. The key is to have a great story, tell it well and make the audience feel something.

→ Be Authentic and Original - Your Brand Story is Different from Every Other. Why did you create the brand you hold so near and dear? What was its purpose? American novelist/poet Herman Melville once said “it is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation” and this is exactly what your public expects. The memorable presentations you’ve watched from successful founders are never cookie cutter or boring; they help you to establish trust and set the tone for the brand.

So whether you’re AirBnB telling a story about New Years Eve travel through animated video, Huggies creating an emotional connection through hugging babies, or Coke who promote being authentic and unique with their ‘The Wonder of Us’ campaign; your brand story is the one thing that truly differentiates you from all the rest.

As the old Native American proverb goes, those who tell the stories rule the world.

I Now Pronounce you Sales and Marketing

It’s like oil and water. Cats and dogs. Apple and Microsoft. Some things just don’t go together.

Sales and Marketing however, shouldn’t be on that list!

Although wired very differently, sales and marketing have historically overlapped quite a lot in their expedition towards overall company growth. Marketing, seen as the “protector of the brand” has ventured from an almost completely outbound approach including the use of print ads and telemarketing (those annoying calls at dinner time, remember?), to a majority inbound approach with the evolution of technology. Sales has also been transformed from a cold calling and list scraping unit to one that is more engaged and targeted in reaching out to relevant prospects (can I get an amen?).

Both teams are vital to the success of a growing company and can be impactful separately sure – but when they are aligned and can work together they are like the Batman and Robin of growth (swooping in to save the day with a solution to rival all others!).

So why then is there still a great divide between the two teams and how can companies avoid it? Besides a shared Batmobile (which is never a bad idea!) some of the ways to make sure your teams are functioning collaboratively are as follows:

Parlez vous Francais? Parli italiano? It’s always a nightmare if you don’t understand what the other person is saying right? So SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE! Make sure that you have the same definitions of what an MQL versus an SQL is or how a lead is defined. You’ll be much clearer in both the sales and marketing planning if both teams know what the other is saying.

Be best friends…no really! You should be meeting at least once a week to align strategies, tactics and to get an overall sense of what each other is focussed on. There is no benefit to working in silos - especially as a startup or small business since resources are usually scarce. Sharing insights and feedback will benefit your team and company as a whole and ensure seamless functioning within.


To agree or not to agree, that is the question. Make sure you decide amongst the teams, who is responsible for what. Discussing the responsibilities within the growth teams and agreeing upon them will make sure there are no assumptions made when it comes time for assessments. Open talks on OKR’s, KPI’s and SLA’s can make the difference when it comes to meeting your goals at the end of quarter rush ;)

Know your stuff! This seems like a simple request but you wouldn’t believe how many marketers I’ve come across who can’t demo their own products or how many sales people I’ve met who have no idea where their inbound growth is coming from. EVERYONE in a company should be able to sell their solutions, services or products –and they should understand the primary source(s) of their lead generation. Period. Pointe finale. The end.

If the plan doesn’t work change the plan, not the goal. Make sure you are aware, aligned and adventurous as a sales AND marketing team – yes you are a team! The more cohesively you function, the easier it will be reach all goals across business units and the better the outcome will be. Leveraging each other’s’ expertise gives you the opportunity to see the full scope of your growth and allows you insights into your existing customer base. Whether you are developing buyer persona’s together, creating exciting co-marketing initiatives or  hosting an event including both customers and prospects; the team that works together, wins together.

📣Read more of my marketing musings at marketbound.io