Not everyone can be Coca-Cola or Amazon, but whatever your product and whatever the size of your brand, you can learn from large enterprises’ successes and failures in consumer marketing.
In the digital age, you have more in common than you think with major brands.
When new advertising platforms emerge (like Instagram), they are often opened up to selected brands at first before being available to all businesses. This means it is often the huge brands that have the steepest and riskiest climb up the learning curve. By the time new platforms or channels open up to everyone, big brands have learned some lessons, and smaller brands can learn from them. Here are 5 consumer marketing lessons you can learn from leading CPG brands.
1. Evolve with the Consumer Population
Brands that refuse to evolve with the consumer population are in danger of fading out. It is important to repeatedly evaluate the relevance of your products to your target audience and be prepared to course-correct if necessary. Stubbornly clinging to outdated technology is a particular type of refusal to evolve. Distributing an entertainment product on VHS, for example, just will not fly in the age of Netflix. That is an extreme example, but it points out the importance of continuing to meet consumer needs as they change.
2. Data Plus Storytelling: A Classic Winning Combination
Part of consumer marketing success is gathering analytics, understanding them, and using them to fine-tune future campaigns. Acting based on what has been proven to work (rather than what you hoped would work, or some other hunch) is the only way to spend precious marketing dollars. However, that data should be in service of a strong brand narrative, which can elicit an emotional response in people that can strengthen their loyalty. Storytelling allows brands to share their more human side, and pluck people’s heart strings. Case in point: Budweiser beer’s “Clydesdale foal” commercials aired during the Super Bowl.
3. Test Results of Consumer Marketing Campaigns
Powerful analytics are available to everyone, so there is no reason not to use them.
With digital advertising still in the ascendant, there is simply no reason to neglect consumer marketing campaign data. One of the primary reasons that social media platforms Facebook and Instagram have sold so many ads to so many brands is that they offer powerful tools to advertisers. With these tools, brands can easily assess brand reach, whether target audience members are viewing the ads, how much traffic is driven to a website from ads, and innumerable other statistical narratives. The data will be gathered by these platforms anyway, and it only makes sense that you put it to work for you to optimize your ads whenever possible.
4. Be Careful when Posting on Social Media
Many big brands have experienced the phenomenon of posting something tone-deaf or inappropriate on social media. The ones that move past it are the ones that recommit to social media as a two-way conversation and that acknowledge their gaffes openly. Unfortunately, many big brands (like British Gas) do not have all the necessary “what if” conversations before posting on social media, and they are usually quick to regret it. There is a reason big brands now employ social media managers, and avoiding major social media faux pas is a huge part of it.
5. Never Forget the Art of Brand Building
Yes, there is practically unlimited data available to advertisers to help them target their ads with amazing accuracy over digital channels. But there is an element of almost magic about the most successful consumer marketing campaigns, and it comes down to eliciting an emotional response in the person viewing the ad or content. It is more than just the classic ploy of including babies or puppies (or both!), but the result is advertising and content marketing that reaches out to people rather than just trumpeting a brand’s benefits from a digital soapbox. Use the data, but make sure you use it in support of marketing that reaches people on an emotional, qualitative level.
Learning consumer marketing lessons from big brands makes a lot more sense than it once did. With the multitude of channels available to brands, and the lower costs of production of advertising content, smaller brands can put techniques and strategies of successful big brands to use. The successes and failures of big brand consumer marketing offer valuable lessons about what works and what does not, and with smaller brands having access to many of the same tools and platforms, they can use these lessons for their own benefit.