For as long as they’ve been made, coming-of-age films’ marketing strategy 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 “Lady Bird,” which tugs at the tender heartstrings of all ages and details 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 a 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 and has earned the movie 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, nominations for Best Picture from the New York Film Critics Circle, Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay and 14 other film award nominations.

So, what made “Lady Bird” such a success? The answer lies in the honesty of 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 different generations? 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 Strategies From “Lady Bird”

1. Embrace who you are.

Just be yourself in your marketing strategy

Don’t try to be something you’re not; authenticity is a huge requirement in your marketing strategy.

“Lady Bird” is full of quirks, all of them being what makes the film the showstopper 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 do 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. 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 every generation craves.

Your audience isn’t looking for perfection; they’re looking for the truth, which is why having a genuine marketing strategy for every generation 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 fun trends. Every generation is looking for the authentic voices behind a brand, and traditional perfectionism in your marketing strategy is going to come across as cliche and condescending.

2. 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 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 its audiences’ 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.

3. Encourage participation in your marketing strategy.

Encourage participation in your marketing strategy

A fantastic marketing strategy for every generation is to encourage your target audience to engage with your content.

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 boy’s 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. This is 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 we’re seeing it now 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.

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 person uses social media to connect with people, kill time, learn about new trends and to get breaking news. Effective social media marketing is not just about posting updates on Instagram, Twitter Facebook or TikTok, but utilizing what makes that social network unique and creating content that stands out.

  • Social media has been at the center of the transformation of video marketing content. Now more than ever we are seeing videos from a variety of companies 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 key to standing out and allowing people to get to know your business.
  • One of the best ways to create participation on social media 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.
  • Another great way to encourage participation is through user-generated content. This type of content is created and promoted by fans, employees or consumers, as opposed to a direction promotion from the brand itself. It is highly effective for both engagement and your company’s bottom line.

There are as many unique ways to create participation on social media as there 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.

4. Don’t be a liar.

Honesty in your marketing strategy

Honesty in your marketing strategy goes a long way.

This one should be pretty self-explanatory, but for the sake of clarity, 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’s part. Avoid marketing strategies that rely on big flashy ads, in-your-face commercials or over-zealous spokespeople that stretch the truth. Let your 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 is 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 your audiences’ interests.

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