Ctrl Shift VFX Nav Logo
Contact us

We'd love to hear from you!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form :(

Find us
writer

Kirk Loftin

Marketing the Unmarketable

Imagine Don Draper standing in his office. He was just shown the film Spring Breakers. He downs his scotch and thinks, “how am I supposed to market this?” Although this is a silly hypothetical (Don Draper would have been in his 90s when that movie came out) (also, Don Draper isn’t actually a real person), it’s a real situation a lot of marketers find themselves in. How do you market the seemingly unmarketable?


One tactic is to lean into whatever makes your product less than palatable. Make a product meant for protecting babies bottoms when they’re in diapers? Call it Butt Paste. Is your company no. 2 in market share? Instead of hiding that, tell people you’re number two, and that it means you try harder, like Avis did. Your pizza is considered the worst? Admit it’s terrible, and that you’re changing it from the crust up like Domino’s.


Consider the context. “At Crazy Eddy’s, our pre-owned cars save you money, money, money!” works great for a used car lot, but not so much for a funeral home. You don’t want to bury grandma with a “Crazy Eddy’s discounted pre-owned coffin.” Also, banner ads for bright neon hair dye make more sense on Hot Topic’s website than the AARP’s.  You don’t pay to show ads for a Bar-B-Q restaurant on PETA’s website. Find your niche, your target audience that loves what you do, get your message in front of them.


One of the hardest things to figure out how to market is services instead of products. These can be difficult to explain to customers/clients in the context of an advertisement. On a product (for example, a new mop), you can show the features, show the product in use. How do you accurately advertise say, a life coach, a tax adviser, or a lawyer? For the lawyer, you’re probably picturing a bald guy sitting at a big wooden desk in front of a bunch of law books, with a mustard yellow text that says CALL NOW at the bottom of the screen. With services, the most important thing is clarity. “We help your business succeed” may sound good, but what services are being offered? It’s completely unclear. “We help your business navigate the complicated world of online marketing and search engine optimization,” may not be the most genius line ever written, but at least people will know what you’re offering.


You may think you’re facing an invisible monster called “the unmarketable product/service,” but the truth is that everything is marketable, you just have to figure out how to convey your company’s message. Through owning it, using humor, understanding context, or correctly conveying services, you can market anything successfully. After all, if Gary Dahl can make a mint by selling individual rocks in cardboard boxes to people, you can figure out something.

OTHER blogs

Check Out More Posts

Don't Be a Jerk or: Ethics in the Workplace

It can be tricky sometimes to navigate the business world and stay completely ethical. Maybe you found out a piece of information no one else knows that you can use to your advantage. Maybe you don’t correct your boss’s incorrect assumption about a co-worker who’s also up for a promotion you’re trying to get. Maybe you stay on the clock after you’re done with work to answer Facebook messages. Keeping a strong sense of personal ethics is more than just not stealing from the company (which is also a no-no), it’s about being honest and doing what’s right in all aspects of business.

The Universal Appeal of Video

What makes video such a powerful medium? Why is it that even small toddlers natively understand videos? Why are “how-to” videos more popular than “how-to” books? Why are movies and television more popular than radio or novels? They’re easy for any human to comprehend, even children that can barely talk seem to just absorb Elmo videos (over and over and over and over again). Every single day, 1 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube.

The Why of Marketing

If there’s one universal truth about marketers, it’s this: we’re all trying to sell something. It might be a shiny new product, a service to a business, or a political candidate, but it’s all about sales, right? Not quite, because marketers need to understand it’s not just about selling something. Understanding what your audiences really want is vital to your success. 

Avoiding Some Common Writing Mistakes

Not everyone in the business world studied English in college. In fact, I think it’s safe to assume most didn’t. Unless you’re a writer, editor, or just have a random passion for grammar, it’s likely that once you slogged your way through Macbeth and To Kill a Mockingbird (or at least watched the movie versions or skimmed the Sparknotes), you felt free. Because of this, the professional world is rife with grammatical errors, misspellings, and other things that make English teachers’ brains twitch.

Welcoming New Employees

Adding a new employee to a company can be an awesome, exciting event. It can also be an awkward nightmare. There’s a fine line between a good and bad experience for a new hire, and balance is absolutely vital to welcoming the newcomer while not scaring them away either.

Staying Healthy While at Work

Celebrities love to post pictures of their healthy meals and videos of them working out with their personal trainers in the middle of the day on Instagram. It’s easier to stay healthy when you have the time and resources of a celebrity. But what about the rest of us? How do we stay healthy while typing on our computers for hours and sitting through way too long meetings? How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle in an office?

Dressing for Success at Work

Keeping up with the latest and greatest fashion trends is exhausting (not to mention prohibitively expensive for those of us that don’t have our own line of rocket ships). Luckily, in a workplace setting, we’re not being judged on the same level as if we’re walking a runway in Milan. Still though, you don’t want to be known as the office slob, so here are some super easy, basic tips for dressing professionally and looking good at work.

From Research to Release

Usually, when people hear the word “animation,’ they think of cartoons. When we talk about animations, especially for businesses, we mean so much more than just cartoons. Animation can be 2D, 3D, a blend of both 2D/3D, or things like motion graphics. Animations can be used to announce products or services, explain complicated processes, tell stories, or even just to make a fun, lively showcase for whatever message you’re trying to share with the world.

The Password is...Safe

With the increases in identity theft, cyber crime, and hacking these days, it’s best to keep yourself as protected as possible. Although sentences like these are usually followed by ads for expensive anti-virus or online protection services,

Increasing Your Productivity

You may have heard the oft-quoted statistic that when Google made their doodle a playable version of Pac-Man, the US economy lost an estimated $120 million in productivity (although that number has been criticized). That’s a loss of productivity on a massive scale. How do you address your own productivity, and make it better?

The Importance of Letting Go

At work we’re surrounded by people we may not have necessarily chosen to be around, which makes it easy to feel like we lose control of our environment. The good news is that we do have control over how we respond to it.

Personal Finances and Work

When it comes to our personal finances, other than our paychecks, we often consider it a completely separate issue from our work. However, it’s not that simple. Your personal finances and professional life at work...

Marketing the Unmarketable

Imagine Don Draper standing in his office. He was just shown the film Spring Breakers. He downs his scotch and thinks, “how am I supposed to market this?” Although this is a silly hypothetical ...

Meme, Inc.: When Businesses Try to Meme

It’s pretty apparent that the majority of 21st century marketing has been taken over by social media . As consumers get younger and younger, marketing tactics need to reflect this demographic change.

How to Treat Partner Companies

It’s hard to fathom a business that won’t at least occasionally work with other businesses. It’s an inevitable, sometimes stressful part of professional life.

Avoiding Burnout

Burnout isn’t just a great Green Day song, it’s increasingly a real problem in the professional world. While American workers’ productivity climbs, so does the prevalence of burnout. More than just being tired, burnout is a condition of feeling emptied, exhausted beyond function.

Honesty in Advertising or: Those Lying Movie Trailers

Ads need to be honest. Of course, ads tend to be selective (making the good sound great while ignoring the downsides), but unless you want to get hit with negative buzz about “false advertising” (or possible lawsuits), you must ensure that you’re being honest in your ads.

Giving Back

I don’t think anyone would deny the importance of giving back, whether to your local community, an important cause, or to those who really need it. The question is how, as companies and employees, we can best serve others alongside our regular work.

Implementing Video Into Your Marketing Strategy

There are serious benefits to adding video to your marketing campaigns. 1 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube daily. Executives say they are 59% more likely to watch a video than read an article.

The Importance of Cultivating Your Passions

It’s unlikely that as a kid when asked what you wanted to do when you grow up, you proudly proclaimed, “I want to work in data entry at a mid level industrial supply company!” For the luckiest among us, our jobs are our personal passions...