Neil deGrasse Tyson
Image Credit | Return of Kings

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist in residence at New York’s Hayden Planetarium is an unlikely role model for marketing excellence. Clearly, he knows how to get your attention. Even on the most complex or boring subjects, as evidenced by over 7.3 million twitter followers, sold out events, and multiple books that have been on the NY Times Bestseller list.

Here are 6 Marketing Tips You Can Learn from Neil deGrasse Tyson:

1. Understand your audience

It doesn’t matter if you are talking about sales, accounting or planets, what matters is that you understand your audience and what they care about. Think about it, if you make your topic relatable to them and what is important to them, you will succeed.

Create specific examples of what you are speaking about by relating it to what matters to your audience. If you are speaking to accountants about social media, make an analogy to their industry to make it more relatable.

Tell them social media was designed for accountants as it features lots of measurable data…likes, follower counts, reports, metrics, gross and net, so that you are speaking their language and it will sound familiar enough to keep their attention.  

Neil’s new book demonstrates his understanding of people and what makes them tick as evidenced by its title – “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry”. It’s really a statement on society today – we now want the key information in the shortest version possible.

2. Be passionate about your work, down to the smallest particle

People are attracted to those who are clearly passionate about their work. By sharing your excitement for your subject matter, you engage and inspire people, and they lean in to find out more. Excitement is contagious. Be passionate about your work and your topic, even when speaking about small details.

A graphic designer who can wax poetic about the loop of an ‘S’ in a specific font, comparing it to the Coney Island Cyclone will capture the attention of their audience, even if they can’t tell Comic Sans from Times New Roman.

“A passionate belief in your business and personal objectives can make all the difference between success and failure. If you aren’t proud of what you’re doing, why should anybody else be?” – Richard Branson

3. Express a sense of wonder about even the most minuscule and boring things

Along with being passionate about your subject matter, express a sense of wonder about any and every aspect of your work. Share your continued gratitude that you get to work in your incredible field, and get to share your knowledge with amazing people [the audience]. Being humble and appreciative is endearing.

As a digital marketer, I am still in awe that by having your email address, I can type a message on my computer and hit send knowing that it will land in your inbox within seconds, no matter where around the globe you are located, even without understanding how it works.

4. Use humor in everything

You may not may not remember much from marketing materials or a presentation, but I bet you will be able to recall a good joke or anecdote.

Humor is a great equalizer. It can break down barriers, get your attention, and turn even the most mundane subjects into more fun, interesting ones. Humor can also be memorable, so infuse your marketing with it where possible.

Insurance is a pretty dry subject; one that it is hard to get excited about. Both Geico and  Farmers Insurance recognize this and have created series of humorous ads to both entertain us, as well as display the need for, and range of their services. Take Farmer’s Swing Set Standoff, featuring a moose attacking swings, then crashing through their client’s windshield, all of which turns out to be covered by their insurance plan.

“Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you.” – Langston Hughes

5. Break complex topics down into easily understood nuggets

I don’t know about you, but I can understand most topics if they are broken down into smaller chunks. With shorter attention spans, you can easily absorb smaller bits of information. It also helps with more complex or new topics, to chunk them down into multiple smaller components as well as comparing them to popular concepts or products, so they can be more easily understood. This helps you scan the information quickly, and process it better.

The technology sector is great at doing this. For example:  Getaround, The Airbnb for Cars, is a lot more elegant, instantly understood concept than describing a car rental market place where people rent you their car by the day, hour or week through a smartphone app.

6. Talk or write in clear and appealing sound bites

Want to get your message heard and shared with more people? Communicate in clear, short, and compelling sentences and phrases; this is beneficial in several ways. As mentioned, if you are like most people, you have a short attention span, so concise sentences are easily scanned when reading, or heard when spoken by a presenter.

The added benefit to this method is that you are creating tweet-worthy statements, that will most likely get shared, helping to increase your marketing reach and visibility.

“Houston we have a problem” and  “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” are great examples of concise and effective communication. Both soundbites convey information, context and place.  They are also very quotable, and tweetable.  So much is said, in so few [yet memorable] words.

Follow these six simple lessons, and you too, can be seen as having marketing superpowers.

How do you sell yourself? Let us know by commenting below!

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