8 C Words Successful Online Brands Know

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The 8 C-words Brand Managers, marketers and advertisers need to know to successfully build brand equity online.

by D.D. Johnice, Social Media/Content Strategist
Spring4th Publishing
http://spring4thpublishing.com

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8 C Words Successful Online Brands Know

  1. 1. the 8 c-words successful online brands know
  2. 2. Online  marketing  is  popular,  but  not  well  understood.    Thousands  of  brands  have   dived  in,  but  few  have  achieved  signi;icant  gains  in  brand  value.      Some  have  ac-­‐ tually  devalued  their  brands  in  the  eyes  of  existing  customers.     The  companies  and  marketers  who  do  understand  the  nature  and  nuances  of   building  brands  via  online  marketing  channels  know  8  “C-­‐words”  you  don’t.  
  3. 3. 1.  Consumers In  the  race  to  colonize  social  networks  and  press  users’  friends  into  service,   many  brand  managers  and  marketers  seem  to  have  forgotten  the  point  of  it  all— to  sell  stuff  to  people.      To  sell  stuff  to  people,  your  brand,  and  the  online  market-­‐ ing  channels  you  employ,  must  be  relevant  to  those  people.    Facebook  and  Twit-­‐ ter  are  media  darlings  experiencing  exponential  growth.    Facebook  has  300  mil-­‐ lion  users.    Twitter  is  expected  to  grow  to  18  million  users  by  the  end  of  2009.     So  it’s  not  surprising  that  brand  pages  are  popping  up  like  tract  homes.    While  it’   s  a  good  idea  to  leverage  Facebook  and  Twitter’s  popularity,  your  efforts  will   bear  little  fruit  if  your  target  consumer  doesn’t  use  these  channels.    It  seems  ob-­‐ vious,  but  hundreds  of  fan-­‐poor  Facebook  pages,  and  Twitter’s  60%  abandon-­‐ ment  rate  are  testimony  to  the  fact  that  dozens  of  brands  sign  on  only  to  dis-­‐ cover  an  embarrassing  lack  of  interest. Start  with  the  consumer—4  words  that  will  save  your  online   brand-­building  efforts.
  4. 4. 2.  Campaigns While  good  marketing  campaigns  garner  attention,  they  generally  don’t  increase   brand  equity.    Sure,  there  have  been  inspired  and  effective  campaigns.    President   Obama’s  “Yes  We  Can”  (2008)  campaign  and  Dove’s  “Evolution”  campaign   (2004)  leap  to  mind.    But,  by  and  large,  campaigns  provide  only  a  temporary  lift   in  awareness,  traf;ic  or  sales,  and  the  brand-­‐building  effects  quickly  dissipate   once  the  campaign  ends  or  grows  stale. Remember  Burger  King’s  “Subservient  Chicken”  (2004)?    Did  that  actually  sell   any  chicken  sandwiches?    Doubtful,  since  Burger  King  and  its  ad  agency  Crispin,   Porter  +  Bogusky  offered  only  anecdotes  when  asked  about  the  campaign’s  im-­‐ pact  on  sales,  and  BK  franchisees  reported  no  obvious  causal  relationship  be-­‐ tween  the  campaign  and  restaurant  traf;ic  or  sales.     Use  campaigns  to  drive  achievement  of  business  goals,  not  just   impressions.      
  5. 5. 3.  Content Campaigns  are  bait,  but  content  is  key  to  lasting,  lucrative  relationships.    Here,   content  is  de;ined  broadly  to  include  not  only  the  copy  and  images  in  ads  or  on   websites,  but  also  the  information  and  features  found  there—news,  catalogs,   sharable  content,  games,  mash-­‐ups,  customer  support  resources,  and  communi-­‐ ties.     If  your  website,  blog,  page,  or  other  channel  is  simply  a  coupon  dispenser  or  a   dusty  thing  to  which  you  pay  attention  once  every  blue  moon,  it  will  not  build   brand  value.   To  build  brands  online,  you  must  develop  a  content  strategy  in  addition  to  their   brand  strategy.    Online  marketing  channels,  particularly  social  media  channels,   are  hungry  beasts  that  must  be  fed  often.    They  crave  variety.    Blogs,  for  instance,   require  articles,  images,  videos,  comments,  blogrolls,  polls,  badges,  links,  and   ads.    The  central  feature  of  a  Facebook  page  is  the  Wall,  a  lively  space  that’s  fre-­‐ quently  updated  with  quips,  quotes,  complaints,  conversations,  invites,  social   games,  photos,  videos,  links,  news,  coupons  and  product  information.    And  that’s   just  the  ;irst  of  six  above-­‐the-­‐fold  tabs! Even  if  your  strategy  does  not  involve  use  of  social  media,  content  is  still  impor-­‐ tant.    Web  addresses,  banners,  text  ads,  and  search  links  all  lead  somewhere.     What  will  consumers  ;ind  when  they  arrive?    How  often  will  they  return  if   there’s  nothing  new  or  perennially  useful?
  6. 6. Do  you  want  your  site  to  be  a  frequently  referenced  resource  or  a  limited-­‐time-­‐ only  landing  page?    Whatever  your  intentions,  the  content  on  your  site  will  make   up  the  consumer’s  mind. Apple  have  amassed  a  storehouse  of  information  on  its  website,  including  devel-­‐ oper  tools,  apps,  how-­‐to  videos,  product  demos,  an  e-­‐store,  announcements,  and   corporate  information.    But,  lest  you  forget  to  visit  Apple.com,  tantalizing  bits  of   information  “leak”  onto  the  Web  via  tech  and  gadget  blogs—just  in  time  for   Macworld,  the  World  Wide  Developers  Conference  (WWDC),  or  the  holidays. Surround  your  brand  with  high-­quality  content  of  varied  shelf   life—(1)  evergreen,  (2)  current,  and  (3)  new,  urgent  content   that  is  released  or  updated  at  intervals.
  7. 7. 4.  Customer  Experience Brands  are  built  through  the  customer  experience—the  better  and  more  reliable   the  experience,  the  more  valuable  the  brand.    Exhibit  #1:  Zappos.com.      Without   argument,  and  with  no  traditional  advertising,  Zappos  has  become  one  of  the   most  successful  and  admired  businesses  of  the  last  decade.    In  just  10  short   years,  Zappos  built  a  brand  worth  nearly  a  billion  dollars  (it  was  acquired  for   $928  million  in  July  2009).     But,  more  important  than  the  revenues  and  accolades  are  the  rave  reviews  Zap-­‐ pos  has  garnered  from  customers.    Zappos  is  a  company  wholly  de;ined  by  its   customer  service  experience.    It’s  CEO,  Tony  Hsieh,  is  obsessed  with  it;  its  happy   staff  is  devoted  to  it;  and,  its  technology  enables,  even  supercharges,  it.     Hsieh  has  created  an  organization  that  lives  up  to  its  brand  promise,  “Powered   by  Service”.    Zappos  remarkable  customer  experience  begins  with  its  website.     Its  interface  is  intuitive;  its  catalog  is  extensive;  and  its  customer  support  con-­‐ tacts  (800  number  and  “Live  Help”)  are  prominently  featured  on  every  page  of   Zappos’  website.    There  are  reviews  to  help  customers  make  better  decisions;   social  shopping  features  to  make  shopping  more  fun;  and  a  simple  checkout   process  to  close  the  deal.    Zappos  promises  free  shipping  (both  ways)  and  deliv-­‐ ery  within  4-­‐5  business  days,  though  most  orders  arrive  sooner  (under-­‐promise,   over-­‐deliver).    And,  if  that’s  not  enough,  Zappos  has  a  hassle-­‐free,  365-­‐day  return   policy.   Zappos’  customers  recognize  that  it  is  a  customer  service  company  that  sells   shoes,  and  that  adds  up  to  enormous  brand  equity.
  8. 8. Build  organizations  and  operations  that  can  deliver  on  the   promises  you  make.
  9. 9. 5.  Connection Not  to  keep  piling  the  love  on  Zappos,  but  they  have  mastered  the  art  of  connect-­‐ ing  with  customers.    Nearly  500  Zappos  employees  tweet;  hundreds  write  for   the  company’s  14  blogs;  and  a  dedicated  5-­‐person  team  records  employee  vid-­‐ eos  for  Zappos.tv  and  YouTube.     What  are  they  tweeting,  blogging  and  producing  videos  about?    Life  at  Zappos.     A  quick  review  of  videos  on  Zappos.tv  reveals  employee-­‐produced  product   demos,  Starbucks  runs,  baby  showers,  happy  hours,  ice  cream  parties,  and  Kanye   West  VMA  parodies.    Following  employees’  Twitter  feeds  reveals  a  similar  pot-­‐ luck  of  shoe-­‐related,  and  purely  personal,  wackiness.    How  does  this  build  brand   equity  for  a  customer  service  company  that  sells  shoes?     This  choreographed  craziness  reminds  customers  that  Zappos  is  not  a  cold,  face-­‐ less  e-­‐commerce  site  but  a  big  group  of  fun,  engaged  people  devoted  to  making   their  Zappos  experience  a  good  one.    This  “human  face”,  coupled  with  great  cus-­‐ tomer  service,  has  allowed  Zappos  to  forge  visceral  connections  with  its  custom-­‐ ers. Another  brand  that  has  discovered  the  magic  formula  for  connecting  with  con-­‐ sumers  across  a  crowded  Internet  is  brand  “Imogen  Heap”.    Heap  is  a  British   singer-­‐songwriter  who  enthralled  an  audience  of  nearly  1  million  people  for  two   years.    Heap  is  not  your  average  celebrity  tweeter.    She  used  videos,  a  blog,  Face-­‐ book,  MySpace,  and  Bebo  pages,  and  a  YouTube  channel  to  rope  an  audience  of   millions  into  a  journey  ;illed  with  writing,  studio  sessions,  world  travels,  ro-­‐ mance,  and  the  purchase  of  her  childhood  home.    
  10. 10. Heap  invited  fans  to  help  her  ;inish  a  song,  design  her  album  art,  write  her  press   kit  bio,  decorate  her  home,  and  advise  her  on  life’s  little  decisions.    Fans  became   so  invested  in  Heap’s  success  that  a  month  prior  to  the  of;icial  release  of  her   Eclipse  album,  they  drove  the  album  to  #39  on  iTunes.    Heap’s  fans  even  fought   off  a  rogue  attempt  to  auction  off  a  pre-­‐release  promo  copy  of  her  album. Hire  a  professional  community  manager  to  be  the  face  of  your   brand  online.  
  11. 11. 6.  Creators Content  creators  are  a  small  but  mighty  contingent  among  Internet  users.    They   represent  only  1%-­‐10%  of  Internet  users,  but  when  they  buy  into  a  campaign,  or   fall  in  love  with  a  bit  of  content,  they  can  put  a  brand  on  the  map  and  keep  it   there.    Tourism  Queensland’s  “Best  Job  in  the  World”  campaign  (2009)  was  a   low-­‐budget,  high-­‐impact  success  due,  in  great  part,  to  content  creators  who  cre-­‐ ated  35,000  videos,  which  attracted  475,000  critiques,  and  54  million  page   views.    The  campaign  is  over,  but  the  content  lives  on  providing  a  trove  of  inter-­‐ esting  information  for  would-­‐be  tourists.    Additionally,  the  winner  of  the  “Best   Job  in  the  World”,  continues  to  generate  videos,  blog  posts,  tweets,  and  photos   that  draw  new  visitors,  maintain  the  interest  of  existing  community  members,   and  help  Tourism  Queensland  reach  its  business  and  brand  goals—increasing   tourism  revenues  and  making  Hamilton  Island  a  vacation  destination. Another  classic  example  of  the  value  of  content  creators  in  creating  brand  equity   is  New  Line’s  “Snakes  on  a  Plane”  campaign  (2006).    While  New  Line  bene;itted   from  the  campaign,  the  credit  for  its  genius  and  success  goes  to  a  fantastically   fanatical  creator  named  Brian  Finkelstein.    Finkelstein  fell  in  love  with  the   movie’s  title,  and  started  his  own  blog,  snakesonablog.com,  to  “document  his   quest  to  attend  the  Hollywood  premiere”. The  blog  attracted  as  many  as  50,000  visitors  per  week,  many  of  who  created   their  own  games  (Snakes  on  Sudoku,  anyone?),  videos,  posters,  poems,  t-­‐shirts,   ringtones  and  theme  songs.    Thanks  to  Brian,  New  Line  saved  $28  million  on   marketing,  and  the  movie  earned  41%  of  its  domestic  gross  in  its  opening  week-­‐
  12. 12. end.    Brian’s  blog  continues  to  draw  unique  visitors,  and  Snakes  on  a  Plane  has   grossed  $62  million  since  its  release. Your  brand  is  only  as  good  as  it  is  loved.    Leverage  the  love.    Em-­ power  the  lovers.
  13. 13. 7.  Consistency So  much  of  the  focus  in  online  marketing  is  on  “the  new”—new  media,  new   apps,  and  new  memes.    The  importance  of  consistency  in  branding  and  messag-­‐ ing  has  been  obscured  by  the  mad  dash  to  be  part  of  “the  new”.    And  why  not?     There  are  rich  rewards  for  being  new—prime  real  estate  on  Yahoo’s  homepage,   top  spots  on  Twitter’s  trending  topics  and  Google  Trends,  millions  of  impres-­‐ sions,  awards  from  peers,  and,  of  course,  “cool  points”. The  lure  is  so  great  that  companies  like  McNeil-­‐PPC,  maker  of  Motrin,  risked  of-­‐ fending  its  core  customers  in  a  desperate  attempt  to  go  viral  with  an  off-­‐brand   video  about  “baby  wearing”.     Angry  moms  swiftly  launched  a  blistering  campaign  that  employed  emails,  blog   posts,  video  responses,  and  tweets  (#motrinmoms).    The  campaign  resulted  in  a   short-­‐order  removal  of  the  ad,  letters  of  apology  from  the  VP,  Marketing,  and   shutdown  of  the  Motrin  homepage.    The  site  still  features  an  apology  from  Mo-­‐ trin’s  Product  Directors. McNeil  is  a  Johnson  &  Johnson’s  (J&J)  company,  and  J&  J  is  a  brand  that  consum-­‐ ers  trust  to  take  care  of  their  babies,  and  of  themselves  when  they’re  sick.    Who   there  believed  the  “baby  wearing”  video  was  in  keeping  with  J&J’s  credo  value,   “We  are  responsible  to  mothers”? Keep  the  #motrinmoms  campaign  top  of  mind  as  you  weigh   strapping  your  brand  to  the  next  new  thing.    Ask  yourself   whether  your  new  video,  latest  tweets,  or  sexy  social  game,  is  in  
  14. 14. keeping  with  the  brand  values  you  espouse  in  your  ofPline  mar-­ keting  efforts.
  15. 15. 8.  Commitment In  online  marketing,  so  much  of  the  focus  is  on  the  new—new  media,  new  apps,   new  posts,  new  rankings,  and  new  memes.    It’s  easy  to  lose  sight  of  the  commit-­‐ ment  required  to  build  brands  online.    A  few  campaigns  or  brands  will  “go  viral”,   but  you  can’t  just  create  a  viral  campaign.    Even  companies  that  invest  signi;i-­‐ cantly  in  online  marketing  may  be  frustrated  with  the  results  in  the  short  term.     The  problem  is  that  many  believe  the  Internet  is  a  cheap,  magic  bean  that  will   become  a  giant  beanstalk  via  which  they  can  amass  Facebook  fans,  Twitter  fol-­‐ lowers,  traditional  media  impressions,  and  sales—all  they  have  to  do  is  sprinkle   on  a  fraction  of  the  resources  they  devote  to  traditional  media  and  wait  impa-­‐ tiently. Unfortunately,  building  brands  online  is  more  like  wearing  a  groove  in  a  granite   ;loor.    It  requires  time  and  determination,  or  expensive  tools.    Ads,  viral  videos,   and  promotions  will  scratch  the  surface;  but  building  brand  equity  requires  me-­‐ ticulous  planning,  creative  execution,  exceptional  customer  experiences,  and   continuous  measurement  and  optimization.       Set  realistic  expectations,  and  invest  for  the  long-­term.
  16. 16. A  Final  Word Online  marketing  channels  will  continue  to  multiply  and  evolve.    There  will  cer-­‐ tainly  be  a  new  Twitter,  a  better  Facebook,  something  we  haven’t  yet  imagined.     But,  the  need  to  be  relevant  to  your  target  consumer;  to  communicate  messages   that  are  consistent  with  your  brand’s  values;  to  develop  compelling  content;  to   forge  emotional  connections  with  customers  via  inspiring  experiences;  to  lever-­‐ age  the  passion  of  customers;  and  to  commit  to  long-­‐term  relationships,  will  not   change.
  17. 17. Contact: D.D. Johnice, social media marketing/content strategist SP4 publishing x San Francisco x New Orleans www.spring4thpublishing.com

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