According to Kim Browne, CEO of digital media architects, Twisted Toast, any conversation is good, even if the content is not positive. “Even bad conversations provide you with valuable insight into how your brand is viewed in the market place,” she says. “Knowing what people think is the first step towards giving them what they want.”
Of course, what you ideally want is to create ‘brand fans’ who market your products or services for you, and this requires giving them content they can use and send on. “You need to start a conversation by appealing to the ideas and concepts that your customers care about or find interesting,” says Browne’s business partner, Twisted Toast’s MD Louis Eksteen. “But you also need to understand that once that conversation has begun, it will grow organically. You can’t control what form or shape it will take, and if you do, people will immediately notice what you are trying to do and your message will lose credibility.”
So, how do you create quality content that starts a conversation, creates fans, and that people will not only listen to, but tell others about as well? According to Browne, the first step is to get the whole company involved. “Creating earned media brings marketing from the external to the internal,” she explains. “Traditional marketing has a role to play, but it should also draw attention to where the conversation is happening — whether that’s on Twitter, Facebook or the company’s own website or blog. Once the conversation starts, a company needs to keep creating content, and that takes buy-in from the full team. Your company’s message needs to be implicit in everything you do. It needs to be part of your culture. Your whole staff needs to understand it, agree with it and act on it. If everyone is consistently creating good content, you will give brand fans what they want: something to talk about and pass on.”
This doesn’t always need to be product or service specific either. “Ultimately you are creating a full and rounded brand identity,” says Eksteen. “You want people engaging with your brand, not only using your product or service.” To get started, analyse what you are already doing. “Content creation is really about recognising opportunities,” says Browne. “Most companies already sponsor something or host an event. The trick is to incorporate that into your strategy. Think about all the modes of media available today: video, photos, articles — every one of these can be utilised. Just plan for it. Always have a still or video camera handy and include content from all events on your website and social networking sites.”
Browne has one firm warning though: using owned media like paid media will result in pushing a message instead of starting a conversation. “People will ignore content that is not interesting to them or feels forced. Don’t push your brand. Give people an excuse to do that for you,” she says.
One example of letting people drive a campaign is offered by Jason Stewart, MD of HaveYouHeard, a Cape Town-based word-of-mouth marketing agency. He hones in on an international campaign for hemorrhoid cream. “There is absolutely no way to make hemorrhoid cream exciting,” he says – or is there?
According to Stewart, the team responsible for creating the ad campaign around a specific brand hit on an interesting fact: many of Hollywood’s stars use hemorrhoid cream to hide their wrinkles. Stars like Sandra Bullock actually endorse it as a great beauty product. “That’s a fact that not only intrigues people, but they will tell other people about it,” points out Stewart. “Suddenly you’ve started a conversation that people will respond to — and you’ve created earned media, because the word will spread without you spending another cent.”
Creating brand fans
The first rule in creating a brand fan is to have a good product or service. “We always say that if you want people to ‘remark’ on you, you need to be remarkable,” says Stewart. “The second is that you need to identify your market and the most influential people in that market, and the environments they operate in.” This can be done both online and offline. For example, you can find online brand advocates who will retweet your messages, or concentrate on a local sports club or association where people actually get together and engage with the community there.
You will need something to engage them with, however. “The most important thing is content,” says Eksteen. “If you don’t have real content, you aren’t giving your fans anything to work with.” For many companies, this involves giving up a bit of their intellectual property for free. “You need to position yourself as an expert,” elaborates Eksteen. “You want people to trust you and respect the advice or information you are giving them. This will keep you top of mind, and when they or a friend or colleague are looking for a company in your field, they will recommend you.” Offering expert advice can be done through a blog, video blog, or social networking sites.
What if you don’t always have advice to offer? The truth is that every industry faces challenges, and whether you offer financial or legal solutions, or manufacture ballbearings, you should be able to offer advice or discuss key issues. However, another — equally successful — way of providing content is to link your content to events. “If you host an event, or sponsor an event, make sure you have a photographer there,” says Browne. “Give people free access to photos of themselves at the event that they can share with others. It might be an added expense, but it allows them to ultimately share your brand – and their good experience — with others.”
Creating meaningful content
- Find out what people are talking about and use it. Often companies are pushing one thing, (a great new ingredient in a body cream) but what people are really talking about (the really easy nozzle of the bottle) is ignored. Stay in touch with how customers are reacting to your product or service.
- Integrate consumers into every aspect of your product. Ask them to test new products and make recommendations. If they have been involved in the development of something, they will be more likely to recommend it to others.
- Be honest. Recommendations work on trust — if people don’t believe you are being honest, they will not spread your message.
- Give people what they want to talk about. There are three main things people want to talk about: product experience, customer service and information that is surprising or useful.
- Implement good customer service principles. People want to talk about positive experiences — so give them something to talk about! This also generates amazing loyalty.
Top Marketing Trends For 2019
When you reflect on marketing trends that have taken centre stage in 2018, what stands out?
Maybe it’s the proliferation of Instagram stories or influencer marketing? Or the fact that video content has become even shorter and simpler with the rise of GIFs.
The real question is how have you incorporated these trends in to your marketing strategy, and what should you focus on in 2019? Here are six up and coming trends that you don’t want to miss:
1. Say hello to the social CEO
Customers want ‘real’ brand stories and to know what drives them. Leaders who are successful on social media show their companies’ human side and give their brands’ credibility and personality. This builds loyalty and, in some cases, an emotional connection that goes beyond the product or service.
Customers who feel this connection may even go on to become brand ambassadors.
Tip: Share stories that demonstrate your leadership style as well as company culture.
2. Initiate conversations
While 2018 brought the chatbots, the trend for 2019 is really using these bots to gather information about consumers by engaging with them on a personal level and steering them towards a sale. Bots are being trained to be authentic and sound more like people than the robots they are.
For example Facebook Messenger becomes more and more useful for brands as the platform allows customisation of automated messages and the ability to initiate a conversation at the right time.
Tip: You can also integrate this with Facebook shopping and increase conversion rates by enabling the bot to sell products to a consumer through the Facebook platform.
3. Keep it local
Influencer marketing can be short lived or a little superficial. So try to identify and partner with local influencers that are happy to work on long-term campaigns. Also use multiple touch points including podcasts, YouTube and Snapchat as well as Instagram and Facebook.
Tip: Before you reach out to an influencer, follow them and learn a bit about the way they represent brands and engage with their fans to see if they’ll be a good fit.
4. Try Instagram ads
As Facebook ads continue to dominate our feeds, advertisers are looking for a new place to stand out and get noticed. Instagram ads are on the rise, according to the Merkle report that showed that while Facebook ad spend grew 40% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018, Instagram ad spend jumped 177% in the same time period.
Tip: Do some A/B split testing with different styles of images and calls-to-action.
5. Personalise email communication
Make sure to use automation and personalisation to really make your customers feel that you are listening.
Using hyper-segmentation, you can target very specific parts of your market. This will ensure that they receive personalised emails based on what they have expressed interest in or actions they have taken with regards to your brand.
Tip: Use automated campaigns after a first purchase; to request a review on social platforms; or just thank customers for shopping and remind them to share their purchase online.
Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template
6. Post in real time
In an effort to bring offline marketing into the online world, Instagram TV or IGTV allows brands to create a place for consumers to watch live events or brand content in their own time.
In addition, IGTV replaces the need for YouTube in some cases as brands are able to upload 10 or more minutes of footage directly to Instagram for consumers to watch as ‘episodes’.
This will become more prevalent in the years to come as businesses include this in their strategy. IGTV videos are less formal and will typically cost less than a traditional TV advert to create.
Whatever trends come our way, the key is to remain agile and adapt to how customers engage with your brand. And more than ever before, it’s important for all marketing touch points to align and communicate the same message.
4 Young Marketing Influencers You Can Learn From
Whether you’re a CMO or just trying to build your own brand, these influencers can help you reach your goal.
Today, social media is a very crowded and competitive ecosystem – it can be extremely difficult for brands to break through and spread their message to a large number of potential new customers.
Marketing via social media has become a necessity. According to a post by DMA, 45 percent of surveyed marketers are looking to increase brand awareness through social media. The same post stated that spending via social media is expected to increase 18.5 percent in the next five years.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The Fifth P Is The Most Crucial
The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers.
The four Ps of the Marketing Mix (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place) have defined marketing campaigns, both successful and unsuccessful, for many years since E. Jerome McCarthy came up with the concept in 1960. And while there have been tremendous advances and innovations in marketing, the four Ps (4P) are still first on the list in any marketing course.
In the brand conscious society in which we live today, however, a fifth P has become the cornerstone to all marketing and branding exercises, whether you’re in the business-to-business or business-to-consumer market. The fifth P is People or is also referred to as Personalisation.
The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers:
- What products do they want?
- Where should you make them available?
- How to price your products to meet your market’s requirements and budget?
- How and where to promote your product?
The first step in defining your marketing strategy should be should be getting to know your customers. When you know who you are targeting and put people at the centre of the mix, you can more easily decide the optimal strategy that will deliver the most favourable results.
Airbnb has built a valuable brand by making the 5th P a focus of it’s branding activities. They typically target millennials born 1980-2000 and it’s understanding their traits (needs and principles) that has been the key to their success. Let’s look at how this impacts each subsequent P individually.
Spending with a conscience is core to most millennials and they tend to opt for products that allow for transparent traceability throughout the supply chain. Airbnb is not seen as a large corporate ripping off the little guy, but creates a community where everyone contributes and benefits from something seen as open, transparent and disruptive to the status quo. The company has no real assets, but its brand has the visibility of a Coca Cola or Starbucks in the millennial market.
While its market is cost conscious, Airbnb knows they place a higher value on products and services that have been designed and developed in a manner that is good for people and the planet. Hence, by consuming the brand they become“part of the solution”.
Airbnb is, more than anything else, including its multi-billion dollar valuation, a community organisation that includes everyone from anywhere. Add to that the lower costs and almost limitless offerings, in general, and you have something their market can’t say no to. Airbnb is a real part of their culture and value system, not some fake corporation pretending to be ‘cool’.
In terms of promotions, understanding their market is apprehensive of contracts and long-term commitments. Airbnb has none, you make a deal with an owner or someone looking to rent for a while and that’s it, no fuss. In an interview with Fast Company, Airbnb’s head of brand, Nancy King said one of the key reasons for Airbnb’s success “is all about emotional connection, and that is really the root of it”. She continues that,
“Iconic brands have a disproportionate share of cultural voice, and they hold the internal culture of companies.” And it’s clear that Airbnb has developed that cultural integration with millennial values.
Convenience and accessibility is important to most markets, but millennials place an even higher priority on it. They want information right away, especially for online sales, and once bought they want to know where their product is in the supply chain until it arrives at the door.
In the case of Airbnb, your booking information is available everywhere and anywhere, on any device. And as part of the community culture it drives, its biggest brand builders are the word-of-mouth promotions its customers created in the natural flow of conversation, online and offline
“Airbnb is an amazing example of how a brand is the value of a company, in this case valued in the billions of dollars ($38 billion at the time of writing, according to Forbes),” adds Rolfe. “This value is based on the value of its community, its culture and the way its partners (buyers and sellers) value what the brand can do for them, not the value of sales pipelines or fixed assets.
“This is a $38 billion valuation based on brand alone, based on the company’s ability to identify its market and create the community (not the business strategy) that appeals to them. In other words, the other four Ps are determined and led by a clear and intense understanding of the 5th P, the people who give Airbnb its value.”
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