Richard LeCount is a branding and marketing expert and the managing director of usbmakers.com.
Creating a successful name for your startup is not a function of ‘by chance’. It takes a lot of discomforts and creativity to start with an idea and build it every day. Acquiring knowledge on how to run a business and learning to be an entrepreneur has taught several business owners valuable lessons.
Like pretty much anything in life, learning from those who have beaten a path before us, can be an excellent way to learn valuable lessons and ultimately get ahead.
Even the best entrepreneur can’t succeed with sheer luck alone. Most entrepreneurs will guide their start-up with the advice and knowledge they’ve been given from someone who has been there before.
Business success is based on how well a company markets its product or service; this means any good entrepreneur should understand the marketing lessons that big brands have already shown us work effectively.
Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, such as Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs, were once where you find yourself today. This means there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t achieve the same levels of success and understanding the marketing lessons they’ve left behind.
In this blog, we’re going to cover seven of those lessons and how they might pertain to you.
#1: Simplify Your Content Strategies
Big brands spend millions creating new content.
There is an excellent reason for this, since content drives visibility, communicates company values, and, when done right, can generate leads and increase conversion rates.
And according to a statistic piece by Iron Paper, placing such emphasis on online content creation is well placed, since 80% of people prefer to learn about a company through custom content. Which explains why content marketing is such a high priority for b2b companies:
Image Courtesy of Iron Paper
However, the most interesting thing is not the amount of content that is being created, but how it is being created. For instance, start-up founders find themselves in the habit of doing pretty much doing everything, including creating content. But the takeaway from this lesson is that you should allow others with more time, and in some cases, expertise to create that content for you.
Businesses are becoming increasingly perceptive when it comes to allowing staff writers and the like to come in and take away the strain:
As you can see above, executives are spending less time on creating content when compared with their staff. This frees up more time that could be better spent working in other areas of the business to create a further opportunity for growth.
Big brands recognise the importance of simplifying processes since it allows everyone to focus on what they’re best at.
#2: Using Content to Drive Visibility
The simple fact is, if you’re creating content that gets people talking online, the more chance you have of being noticed.
British betting brand Paddy Power is a prime example of this, albeit not always for the right reasons. Their strategy is to post risky and humorous content on social media:
While it’s true to say that most gambling brands take a similar tone, Paddy Power is the best at it and they’re not afraid to take a risk.
Their posts range from childish to absolutely outrageous, but at the time of writing they have 651,900 twitter followers, and each of their posts gets hundreds of likes and retweets.
That’s not to say that you should be taking this kind of approach since it’s not always the best strategy, but the takeaway is that Paddy Power understands their audience and create consistent content that their customers will understand and find amusing.
Your job when creating content is to tap into your audience and really understand what they want to see and use it to connect with them.
#3: Utilise Video Content
Videos are now a vital cog in the content marketing machine, and there is a good reason for this, since they are easier to record than ever before, and they can grab customer attention, like no other medium.
We’ve known for a long time how effective video is, but the trick is creating something that can effectively inform buying decisions. It’s estimated that 50% of consumers will now search for a video relating to a product before they commit to making a purchase, and 79% prefer watching a video to reading content.
What this means is that if you haven’t created video content to compliment your most important products, you may be unintentionally driving half of your customer base away.
In fact, big business is so aware of the influence of video content creation, that they are inclined to prioritise it above everything else:
Video is an engaging and visual form of media, and it’s because of this that it’s so effective.
The real trick is to create something that informs your audience, with the ultimate goal of increasing traffic and conversions.
#4: Tell a Story
Us humans have been telling stories for millennia, and there’s a good reason for this. A good yarn can make us laugh, cry, think and feel all sorts of different emotions. And that’s what great products and big brands do.
Storytelling is at the core of any marketing campaign, and it simply means that you’re making a promise to the people buying your products – this is then communicated through a narrative structure.
Take the example of Nike; they have come to understand that harnessing the power of a good story is great for business. In 1999, the company created a short advertisement that honoured the career of the great Michael Jordan.
Despite being a Nike ad, there is no mention of anything branded until the advert comes to a close, where the brand's slogan and logo appear.
Twenty years ago, this was somewhat revolutionary and set the tone for how brands market themselves and tell their stories even to this day. You’ll notice that the principle of “sell, sell, sell” doesn’t apply to this advert at all.
Nike knew better than to force the issue, and they understood that what really sells products over the longer-term is building a lasting impression by creating something that resonates, connects and ultimately sells.
This methodology has stood the test of time and has made Nike one of the greatest storytelling brands of the modern era.
Everything Nike does include a back story, even one of their latest ads, “Dream Crazier”, features no specific products; instead it explores the history of women in sport.
#5: Create a Community
Why does someone buy a product?
You could ask ten people that question, and you’ll get ten different answers, such as:
- Because it was it a sale
- It’s unique
- Because they saw it advertised
But by far the most common reason someone may buy a product is simply that they’re in the habit of doing so. By creating a community around a product, you can inspire brand loyalty that keeps customers coming back time-after-time.
Motorcycle brand Harley-Davidson, not only provides top of the line bikes and accessories, but they also run a Harley Owners Group, which offers unique benefits to their customers.
Harley-Davidson understood the commercial opportunities which lie within creating a following and has been building a community network since the 1980s, which has helped to push the brand towards iconic status.
The community seeks to experience freedom and adventure, all the while positively impacting the places where they live, work and ride. Through the company’s foundation, the Harley-Davidson Foundation, dealers, employees and customers are able to support charities and causes to positively impact the world around them.
Now just imagine you were part of this community; would you ever consider buying a bike or any accessories from another company? No, you probably wouldn’t – in fact in many cases it’s a good bet that Harley-Davidson loyalists will go out of their way to ensure they remain loyal to that brand.
That’s the true power of creating community.
#6: Be Creative
It’s easy to slip into a “that’ll do” attitude when it comes to marketing your brand, particularly if you’re only doing just enough to get by.
Maybe you run Facebook Ads, deliver direct mail, run physical ads, or perhaps you do a bit of SEO. While all these are critical factors when trying to run a successful business, there is one thing that top entrepreneurs will tell you: creativity in marketing could make all the difference.
This doesn’t mean it needs to be complicated though, even doing something that’s a little different from the norm can help you stand out from your competitors.
Within 12 months of this ad being uploaded to YouTube it gained 4.75 million views and countless shares across social platforms, not to mention 12,000 signups only two days after the video was released.
Why was it so successful? Because it’s different.
There’s nothing extraordinary about it; it’s not a medium that has never been used before, but even long after you’ve seen it, you remember it.
Other companies have tried to imitate it, but that initial impact got the companies name out there and all because founder Michael Dubin dared to be a little different.
When you take a shot to be a little bit more creative, you stand a better chance of creating something that excites you, that excitement will come across to your customers.
#7: Run Competitions
The word “free” can frighten many business owners; after all, marketing is about selling products, not giving them away.
That said, running competitions can be an incredibly effective way to generate more sales, which is perfectly illustrated by cleaning brand O-Cedar.
Realising the value of creating a niche competition, that would only appeal to their specific audience base, they were able to run a competition in which entrants were in with the chance of winning a top-of-the-line mop each day the contest ran.
Something quite simple that relates to your brand is capable of achieving significant exposure for your company.
The most common thing to do is to give away money, but in this case, you’ll be attracting folks that aren’t invested in your brand, and you won’t keep their attention for very long.
Whatever you choose to centre your giveaway on, human beings love the competitive edge, and if you’re able to create a space for them to compete, you’ll attract plenty of buzz.
And in the case of O-Cedar, who were giving away products for $50 and under, such a simple campaign resulted in:
- 24,400 entries
- 45.69% conversion rate
- 1,200 new email addresses
Which means they not only engaged with their current customers, but they’ve also created a healthy GDPR friendly list of new consumers to market to.
Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or a business professional just starting out life as a business owner, there are always lessons to be learnt from those who’ve been there, made a mistake and tried something new as a result.
As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself”. The same can be applied to other people’s successes too.
When it comes to marketing your brand, lessons include simplifying your content strategies, getting video marketing spot on and creating a story around your company and its products.
Of course, they are not the only things you can learn from huge brands that have made a name for themselves, but it’s not a bad place to start.
Entrepreneurs don’t suddenly transition from start-up to a thriving business in the click of a finger, those who make it big take the advice and learn the lessons of people who have achieved their goals.
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