For as long as they’ve been made, coming-of-age films’ marketing has targeted audiences experiencing that coming-of-age themselves, working as a makeshift how-to guide for adolescents. This isn’t the case with Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut ‘LadyBird,’ which tugs at the tender heartstrings of all ages – teenagers, millennials and parents alike – detailing the life of a young woman in the transition from her senior year of high school into the early stages of adulthood.
The main character, self-proclaimed ‘Lady Bird’ spends the film battling the pressures of her homelife, love and friendships with the variety of dynamic characters, including her tough-as-nails mother, Marion McPherson. This honest interpretation of finding oneself has made a monumental impact for audiences and film critics, which has earned the movie one hundred percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and nominations for Best Picture from the New York Film Critics Circle, Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay, and fourteen other film award nominations so far.
So what made ‘Lady Bird’ such a success? The answer lies in the honesty of all the varying components of the film. From the cinematography to the fashion, nothing adhered to the traditional expectation of box office films, but instead remained ever-so- real. How did they do that? How is this a good marketing strategy? How is this essential to reaching out to millennials? How can you use this marketing strategy in your business? Keep reading for four lessons from the film you can apply to your company.
4 Marketing Lessons from ‘Lady Bird’
- Embrace Who You Are.
‘Lady Bird’ is full of quirks, all of them being what makes the film the showstopper that it is. The choices made weren’t mistakes by any means; they were intentional and distinct. Lady Bird’s wardrobe is that of crafty teenager, making due with her family’s financial restrictions and can be described as Goodwill-chic. This very element is what makes Lady Bird’s character relatable, and obtainable, and leaves the audience thinking, “I know someone who dresses just like that.” It’s not about the color coordination or name brands; it’s about character through repetition, and making a statement about who Lady Bird is without directly saying, “She loves wearing her Doc Marten maryjanes and bell bottom capris.” Lady Bird’s roots are grown out, she has acne and the things she says to her mother could make anybody cringe; the combination of the foible is what creates the authenticity that this generation craves.
Millennials specifically aren’t looking for perfection, they’re looking for the truth, which is why genuine marketing is key. One way businesses can apply honesty is by being transparent, whether that’s a look behind the scenes, communicating more frequently with useful insight on social media or even being part of the fun of trends. Millennials are looking for the authentic voices behind a brand, and traditional perfectionism in marketing is going to come across as hoaky and condescending.
- Stay True to Yourself, but Grow.
This goes along with lesson number one. What makes Lady Bird the hero of her own story is her unwavering desires and ability to learn from her own mistakes. Despite every protest from her mother, financial or educational obstacle and humiliation, she was able to bounce back and keep her eyes on her goal: going to college in New York. In the end she did exactly what she sought out to do, and although it wasn’t exactly how she pictured it, there’s something endearing about her persistence even when it wasn’t on the most logical path.
Businesses should follow in Lady Bird’s footsteps; if your company has a marketing goal, it’s better to achieve it uniquely for a better end result than to follow conventional methods, because in the end you’re only ever going to get regular results. This is where innovation begins, taking all of the curveballs life throws you and deciding to juggle them. Every time there’s negative feedback on a product or service you offer, don’t take it as an insult; take it as a clue. That’s your audience telling you, “We want this instead.” Use it to improve your business and grow by providing what your target customers are seeking.
Take Netflix for example; the constantly evolving video streaming service has never gone for cheap marketing gimmicks, but instead has adapted to millennials’ needs while also providing the same quality of content. They accomplish this by reaching out through social media, engaging with customers and having a solution-oriented business strategy, all while never settling on their objective.
- Encourage Participation in Your Marketing
It wasn’t until Lady Bird’s senior year that she found out about her catholic school’s theatre program accompanied by the brothering all boys school. Looking for something to help her stand out on college applications and to channel her performative nature, she was eager to join for the school’s fall musical, where she met her first love, bonded with faculty and created new experiences with her best friend.
At the core of it, that’s all anybody wants: to be a part of something, and now we’re seeing it in this generation more than ever. Any marketing that encourages consumers to be part of the content a company puts out gives them that sense that they are a part of the company itself. Cola has names on the bottle, Gillette surveyed women, and Dollar Shave Club gives the gift of reading. All these brands are taking the customer’s experience beyond the confines of the product itself and letting it bleed into other aspects of the consumers’ lives. This in turn can create a culture around a product or a whole brand itself and, in combination with shareable online content, creates an entire experience for customers.
Why is the idea of an experience key to any business’ marketing strategy? As Karl Moore of Forbes states, “Millennials have been taught a postmodern worldview,” and as an outcome, have an “us vs. them” viewpoint on brands. They don’t want to engage with big companies that’s sole purpose to to push products, but instead want to engage with the people behind these businesses. They want to be part of the creative process; 42% said they are interested in helping companies develop future products and services. The best way to encourage consumers to participate in using your business is by creating an environment where they’re encouraged to be part of the team.
How can you do this with your business? The average millennial has 2-5 social media accounts that they use at least once a day; that’s 2-5 opportunities to connect to them. Effective social media marketing is not just about posting updates on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, but utilizing what makes that social network unique, and creating content that stands out.
- Facebook has been the center of the transformation of video marketing content. Now more than ever we are seeing videos from Buzzfeed, E4 and Cosmopolitan, all asking for user interaction in the form of shares, and people are loving it. Posting videos that are enjoyable and/or informative to watch is a key way to stand out in the sea of blue and white and allow people to get to know your business.
- One of the best ways to create participation on Instagram is in the form of memes, giveaways or hashtags, which allow users stumbling upon your content to trace it back to you, especially when the content is being shared or tagged by their friends.
- Twitter is another platform ideal for memes and video content, and also gives brands the opportunity to get feedback and provide customer service (67% of consumers have used a company’s social media site for servicing).
There are as many unique ways to create participation on social media as their are social platforms, but it doesn’t stop there. Posting a question or survey on social media allows for customers to feel like they are part of the creative process and that their feedback will help produce what they want to see out of a company or brand. This also means listening to that feedback and providing direct results.
One of the best examples of this is the makeup industry. In recent years there has been more of a demand for wider ranges of foundations for different skin tones, and while some brands ignored this call-to-action from their customers, companies such as Make Up Forever and Fenty Beauty rose to the occasion, impressing beauty bloggers and women alike.
Ultimately to encourage participation, businesses should provide more content, questions and results that give the public a sense of community and let them feel like they had a hand in what is put out there.
- Don’t be a Liar
This one should be pretty self explanatory, but for any confusion, let’s clear things up. During Lady Bird’s exploration into finding herself and a new sense of belonging, she finds herself caught up in the seemingly harmless white lies she told. In an effort to gain popularity with the celebrated Jenna Walton and engage romantically with the mysterious Kyle Scheible, she bends the truth of her family’s financial status and location, claiming to be a part of one of Sacramento’s desirable neighborhoods. When she is eventually found out, she ends up more humiliated than before and is deemed a “weirdo” and a “liar.” This subplot of the film is one that resonates with fans from both Lady Bird and Jenna Walton’s perspectives.
The big takeaway is that nobody likes to be lied to and no company wants to be on the wrong side, having a finger pointed at them. The key to avoid this is complete transparency on the business’ part. Avoid marketing strategies that rely on big flashy ads, in your face commercials or over zealous spokesmen that stretch the truth. Have you business or product stand on its own, let them know it’s worth it and show that what you’re doing is for real people and genuinely a quality product or service.
‘Lady Bird’ offers insight into a part of us we usually choose to forget: a part of us that was constantly changing, adapting and improving. Adopting the above skills and applying them to your marketing strategy can set you ahead and apart in a world where traditional advertising is powerless to this generation’s interests.
Want to learn more about marketing to millennials? Check out these other posts from the Three Girls Media team and be sure to contact us if you have any questions about the best methods to reach your target consumers!
- Generation Y Branding – What ‘Millennials’ Want
- Effy Says…Focus on Instagram for Younger Users!
- One Minute News: What This Millennial Thinks