Marketing for ‘Punks’ – does such a thing exist?

The founders of craft beer brand BrewDog wrote a book on how to inject the spirit of punk into your business model. Great, I thought. That sounds refreshing. Like a beer. BrewDog famously petitioned the government with a dwarf to promote smaller drinking measures, and filled roadkill with 55% beer to send to their investors. The question is, should everyone apply the ‘punk’ ideology to their marketing?

The book can be condensed into a simple logic – reject the system as you know it, because all that matters is that you’re aiming for a quality product. James Watt has a point. BrewDog did things differently and it worked for his business. Perhaps this is because ‘doing things differently’ was woven into their brand, which is called ‘Punk’IPA after all. The tips they offer for any new business are:

  • Post to Instagram every day
  • Update your Twitter feed constantly
  • Upload behind the scenes YouTube videos every month
  • Blog fortnightly about what you do

What’s my issue with this? It’s incredibly laddish. Watt’s unapologetically high-risk policy smells like teen spirit, mixed with a blokey optimism I remember from the 1990’s.

Good marketing is subtle, thoughtful and respectful of the audience. The BrewDog strategy might work for plenty of businesses, but could be damaging to anyone without a reputation or experience. Applying the same, oafish marketing strategy to every brand is risky. So is spamming the internet daily with social media posts.

Humans respond to pleasure signals more than anything else, we look for a good feeling, a good time, good memories. We will do almost anything to avoid pain. Focusing on this instead, and thinking carefully about how your product makes people’s lives easier, more comfortable or more rewarding is a smarter strategy and won’t alienate customers.

My alternative tips to the punk mentality would be:

  • Spend time getting to know and understand your customers
  • Find out where they hang out online, and build your presence there
  • Focus on adding value in your content, so don’t blog for the sake of it
  • If your brand isn’t right for YouTube, Instagram or Twitter, then don’t bother.

Instead of business for punks, how about business for pleasure?

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