Marketing Tips from Wonderland

Marketing Tips from Wonderland


Marketing Tips from Wonderland: How to compete in an active, noisy, creative, digital space

How to entice consumers into the rabbit hole (and keep them there!)

Pro Tip: Serve more tea not less, and the best butter.

When was the last time you found yourself properly derailed, distracted, and lost down a rabbit hole?

Brand strategist Nicole Hanratty, M.S. shares her take on marketing tips from Wonderland and how to compete in an active, noisy, creative digital space.

Ever have a friend text you a TikTok video that results in an hour of your time evaporating into thin air? Poof. I admit it. Within seconds of clicking, I’m entertained. TikTok rewards my click with more videos. By then, it’s over. Ten minutes later I’m snacking on popcorn and letting it roll. 

Before I know it, I am texting back crazy ideas like “we should make a TikTok challenge of trying to eat every flavor of Oreo before getting off an escalator.” (Oreo, DM me if you’re in @nicolehanratty2).

These platforms enticed me down the rabbit hole and kept me there. Why?

the best way to explain it is to do it, quote from The Dodo, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll - marketing tips from Wonderland, how to compete in a noisy digital creative space

Marketing tip: “The best way to explain it is to do it.” (Dodo)

When I am building out content, I spend time researching platforms, channels, and websites. What content holds my attention? What keeps me there? What makes me scroll endless, check-in hourly, binge-watch and forgo sleep?

Why did the platform capture my attention and maintain it? I look around and take note of things that are sparking interest.  

Entering Wonderland

• Obvious entryway

• Welcoming messaging

• Bright beautiful imagery

• Surprise and delight at every turn

• Cohesive theme throughout

• Interesting content that brings the channel alive

• Positive emotional rewards for exploring 

• Diversity in content to hold both visual and audible learners

If a site or channel doesn’t capture me, I note what feeling led me to leave it.

Leaping out of the Rabbit Hole

• No easy way in

• Missing a welcome message or navigation signs

• Unexpected or unrelated content

• Uniformed by audio or imagery

• Unrewarded for exploration

• Negative emotional response to content 

• Difficult to understand language 

• Irrelevant to consumer demographic

• Reached a Dead End – Nowhere left to go/click

Marketing Tip: “I don’t know the meaning of half those long words, and what’s more, I don’t believe you do either!” (Eaglet)

Everything sounds crazy until it works.

We are accustomed to seeing made-up words becoming coming verbs like Google and Venmo.

If you are naming a company or a brand, Wonderland has a lot to teach you. Think about major brands that have successfully combined impactful words like PayPal, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

Great brand names often have an element that is unexplainable, unknowable or vague–and not obvious–in origin. Examples of brands like this include Kleenex, White Claw and Oreo.

Creative names require strong campaigns. If you are inspired by Lewis Carroll and mixing up words, be sure to back it up with expertise.

Does the target consumer understand the current positioning including your value proposition? Is the messaging resonating?

Consumer feedback is invaluable at this stage. If you can’t afford a proper market research study, dig into customer service emails, employ social listening tools like, or create a customer survey with Typeform or Jotform.

If the product you are selling is complicated, that’s okay. Break down technical terms and explain them. Multiple short interesting educational videos are a fantastic way to explain the why, the what, and the how behind innovation. Part of the experience you are selling is helping your customer feel like they are making an informed decision.

For example, I once built out an extensive glossary of highly technical terms for an energy company’s B2B industrial product. We added it to the backend of their website. The commercial marketing language on the product pages included hyperlinks for the “long words” to definitions available inside the glossary. It was unique, valuable information. 

Rather than assuming the energy customer understood the complicated (yet necessary) terminology that illustrated the unique selling proposition of the expensive equipment, we broke it down for them in simple terms:

  1. This is the problem you are frustrated with in the field.
  2. These are the solutions you have been sold by others that aren’t working.
  3. This is why our solution is better. 

The glossary stood as proof the company knew what they were talking about. It showed they were willing to go above and beyond to help their customers understand. It had the added benefit of raising the energy company’s search result rankings, as search engines began to see the website as a subject matter expert.

This marketing tactic works in everyday business transactions as well. I recently purchased a garbage disposal from my plumber, not at the hardware store. It cost me a few dollars more but I found value in it.

Why did I pay the plumber extra? He took the time to explain the difference in motor sizes, saved me the drive time to pick it up, offered me an additional warranty on installation if I purchased from him, and invoiced me with 30 days to pay.

The plumber educated me and sold me on his expertise. He used “long words,” but he explained what they meant.

Marketing Tip: “Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.” (Duchess)

Connecting the customer to the value element is the key to successful marketing. For example, the physical product for sale might be windows. But the salesperson in your living room is selling a feeling. If they are expensive windows, they may be selling the feeling of status or security that comes with design or warranty. If they are inexpensive windows, they may be selling the feeling of finding a steal of a deal. 

What is the moral of the story?

moral noun: a passage pointing out usually, in conclusion, the lesson to be drawn from a story*

A couple of years ago, I was part of a team that rebranded a well-known adult consumption product prior to launching in Canada. There was an abundance of similar products in Canada at the time, including well-known competitors. The new positioning leaned into consumer feedback and the creative genius behind the brand. 

Working with an incredibly talented team, we developed a robust digital retail toolkit. It included well-produced videos, original art designs, custom music, educational sales decks, and social media assets that highlighted attributes consumers valued. 

These tools empowered retail accounts to confidently pass product knowledge on to consumers. We didn’t just tell them we were a brand differentiated by the creative power behind it, we showed them. The product launched to record sales numbers surpassing all other categories in the space. 

Marketing Tip: “Oh Kitty, how nice it would be if we could only get through into Looking-glass House! I’m sure it’s got, oh! Such beautiful things in it.” (Alice)

The Alice Door at Oxford University is located in the Cathedral Garden’s north wall. It’s a must-see for Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll fans. Learn more about the famous door here.

You’ve enticed your first customers down the rabbit hole by making your product/service look alluring. And, you’ve likely spent a good sum of money getting them there. How do you leverage these initial sales to expand your reach?

Don’t worry, this is not a talk about the importance of omnichannel marketing.

You can keep reading.

This is a talk about carving out a chunk of your marketing budget to build a strong Customer Retention Strategy. How do I reward initial clientele? How do I attract tastemakers? How do I build brand loyalty? 

The value of a customer–especially early adapters–is more than what they spend. It includes how they impact the decision-making of their friends and followers. Your sales have an infinitely better chance of growing with positive Yelp reviews or organic shout-outs on Instagram.

While the popularity of various word-of-mouth platforms (Twitter, Reddit, Yelp, YouTube, Google, Amazon, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn) ebb and flow, the premise is the same. When it looks amazing and receives rave reviews, people want inside the Looking Glass House.

I recently used a brand new auto service, Yoshi. I used it because I saw a news source I follow on Instagram post a story about it. They deliver gas to you at home or work and offer a menu of other convenient auto services performed in your driveway, including car washes. 

The service I ordered was performed as promised, but that is what I expected, not what impressed me. It was the personalized texts and emails I received before and after the service, as well as the earned rewards that will make me use them again and refer them to friends. 

This is their Customer Retention Strategy: on-point new client communication, customer service follow-up, discounts on next purchase, and a referral reward to share with friends.

Whatever the tactic, show your gratitude. Give them a reason to come back for more, refer you to friends, or stay in the garden a bit longer and enjoy the talking flowers.

This is Wonderland after all. 

*Quotes from Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll, Copyright 1946 by Grosset & Dunlap, Inc.

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