Creativity Magazine

The Audience Humiliates You Every Day… And Why That’s A Good Thing

By Mrstrongest @mrstrongarm

Here’s a line that got my attention recently:The Audience Humiliates You Every Day… And Why That’s A Good Thing

Digital marketing works because the audience humiliates you each and every day.

The Audience Humiliates You Every Day… And Why That’s A Good Thing

Mike Johnston goes on to explain why that’s a good thing:

The Audience Humiliates You Every Day… And Why That’s A Good Thing

Audiences know. That’s why digital marketers have so much success. They test different approaches in front of different audiences. The audience tells them what works best.

The Audience Humiliates You Every Day… And Why That’s A Good Thing

Why test? We get too close to our own ideas. We become defensive, blind to weaknesses and potential problems.

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The Audience Humiliates You Every Day… And Why That’s A Good Thing

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Legendary film director Billy Wilder said: “The audience is never wrong.” He also explained why: “Every single person out there is an idiot, but collectively they’re a genius.”

The Audience Humiliates You Every Day… And Why That’s A Good Thing
He took their advice re the opening scene of his famous film, Sunset Boulevard. The final released version opens with William Holden’s character floating face down in a swimming pool.

Wilder’s original concept was different: a city morgue scene where the corpse tells his sad story to the other dead bodies. Preview audiences roared with laughter at the scene. Wilder cut it, and opened with the body floating in the pool, with Holden doing voice-over narration to tell the story of his demise.

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The Audience Humiliates You Every Day… And Why That’s A Good Thing

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Brands and marketing agencies use A/B testing to see which of two concepts works best. For example: which version of a web page gets more engagement. You can use the same approach for Facebook ad campaigns.

(For more information about Facebook ads, see Jamie Doerschuck’s Ultimate Guide To Facebook Ads.)

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But testing costs money. What if you’re a one-person shop or a small business with a limited budget?

You can still experiment with different approaches on your site: different layouts and calls to action, for example. Same with content. WordPress Stats and Google Analytics are free tools that will tell you what posts are generating the most engagement. Social media platforms like Twitter also provide analytics that tell you what’s working and what’s not.

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So: is the crowd always right?

Ah, there’s the rub. There are “rules” for every art form: writing, art, music composition, marketing– you name it. You have to know the rules, and sometimes you have to break them.

The Audience Humiliates You Every Day… And Why That’s A Good Thing

Take Billy Wilder again. He made Sunset Boulevard in 1950. He made Some Like It Hot, another famous classic, in 1959. Entertainment columnist Paul Whitington writes:

“The producers wanted to tinker with the finished film after it screened poorly for test audiences, but Wilder stood his ground. ‘This is a very funny movie,’ he said, ‘and I believe in it just as it is.'”

The American Film Institute ranks Some Like It Hot, starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe, as the greatest comedy of all time.

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The Audience Humiliates You Every Day… And Why That’s A Good Thing

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And I wrote in an earlier post how Anheuser-Busch decided to go with their famous “Dilly, Dilly!” ads even though they didn’t test well. Anheuser-Busch InBev Chief Marketing Officer Miguel Patricio said, “We went against the research and we gave a chance to ‘Dilly Dilly’ and we are so happy!”
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