Marketing Lessons From The Big Boys

Marketing Lessons From The Big Boys


Last year Felix Baumgartner dived from the edge of space while eight million people watched the live stream on YouTube.

Some people called the 128 000-foot free fall — engineered and sponsored by Red Bull — a publicity stunt. But it was more than that: The effort was a content-marketing play to get people involved in the Red Bull story on a humungous scale.

I speak to audiences worldwide about content and marketing. And when I talk about such massive, costly endeavours, I can read the faces of the skeptics in the audience. They’re wondering how their small businesses can possibly compete on the marketing front against the sophistication of a multimillion-dollar company.

As a matter of fact, there are plenty of ways to compete. Even the smallest brands with the most modest resources can work off of some of the same fundamental concepts.

1. Hire a brand journalist

The biggest mistake I see small companies make regarding their content is that they have no clear understanding of what people might actually want to read, watch, listen to and — this is critical — share.

A ‘brand journalist’ works inside the company, writing and producing videos, blog posts, photos, webinars, charts, graphs, e-books, podcasts and more, all of which can be used to draw people in.

Producing content should be a job all on its own — don’t just charge the intern or marketing communications person with writing an occasional blog post.

The main reason I’m a fan of hiring trained journalists is that they put the needs of the audience (vs those of the company) first. There’s a little voice in the back of their heads reminding them, ‘Nobody has to read this, so you’d better make it good’. That kind of pressure can only benefit your brand.

2. Tell your bigger story

Here’s another paradox about content marketing: Your story is not about you; it’s about what you do for others. Nike’s ‘Find Your Greatness’ theme isn’t about shoes or gear; it’s about motivating and inspiring the athlete in all of us, even if we are more Eeyore than Seabiscuit.

You, too, can identify your bigger story:

  • How does your product or service live in the world?
  • How does it help people?
  • Shoulder their burdens?
  • Ease their pain?

Remember, your customer using the thing you sell is always centre stage, not the other way around.

 3. Cultivate community involvement

The best brands don’t just churn out regular blog posts with the heavy-handedness of an orphanage doling out gruel. Rather, they create lasting programmes that their communities — including customers, employees and fans — want to take part in.

Ben & Jerry’s asks global fans to share their best ‘euphoric’ photos on Instagram by using the hashtag #CaptureEuphoria; the favourites are featured in ads for the brand. Its community involvement is in a larger story about over-the-top experiences — not just ice cream.

Out with the Old and Used. This is How to Bring Your Brand Back to Life

Ann Handley
Ann Handley is a veteran of creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals. Ann is co-author of the best-selling Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (Wiley); the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs; a columnist for Entrepreneur magazine; a keynote speaker, mom, and writer.