16 Jun I Have a Big Budget to Spend on Marketing, What Should I Do Next?
“We are a large technology company and need global awareness about our good-cause product. We have a team of marketers and a CMO but our follower numbers are still in the thousands and we cannot seem to overcome the challenge of taking it to the next level. Our product is a ground-breaking technology and millions of people can benefit from it in the future. Can you suggest some ideas, what can we do?”
This is another message I’ve received in my inbox, email@example.com. It’s a very interesting question, and it shows that large companies experience the same challenges making the world aware of their cool product and technology as the little ones. Despite having access to significantly higher marketing and advertising budgets, as well as the talent pool to develop the strategy and implementation, they still need to unlock the magic recipe that would work for them. Since marketing is not a science, as it is highly experimental, large companies are usually in a much better position as they can experiment more freely and over a longer period of time.
Most of these titans are very good with their employer branding, so that people want to work for them and keep working with them. In such cases, if you look through the company’s official social media channels, they would commonly have 5-10K followers on Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook, or 30K at max. However the content often appears flat and sometimes even dull, and would only be interesting and relevant for the company’s own employees and maybe a few clients, but not to the general public.
You need to make your company interesting to a more generic audience, which also includes your prospective clients and investors – think of it as your prospective sales funnel that meets your awareness pool. In order to stand out, your large company has to unlock the same secret as any other company, i.e. provide true educational and entertainment value for the generic audience, for them to engage with what you do or what you stand for.
I call it the edutainment – honest, candid, and amusing content you produce and deliver in a visually appealing way. The question is, what’s in it for me, that your company just launched a new product or that your CEO visited your manufacturer in China? When I’m scrolling through Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, and briefly watching a cat video or ignoring a yoga app ad, (which were pushed to me by these platforms’ recommender engines because I am a female in my 30s), and all of a sudden I see your post – it isn’t exciting enough for me, a random viewer of your content. Therefore what you put out there on behalf of your company needs to be even more engaging, fresh, and original in order to capture my already diffused and saturated attention. And most importantly, you have to attach a face to everything you do – it’s all about personal branding that ultimately picks up my interest first, as a passive viewer.
It is about a persona, a spokesperson, who talks on behalf of your company, and represents its values, principles, and goals. Someone who looks straight into the camera, speaks in simple language and tells me what’s new and how your company can do something that makes me think, laugh, or become passionate about a certain matter. People do not often follow companies, unless they are considering working for them or are already.
People follow people. It’s the same for big and small companies, if you sell sneakers or solar panels, or if you are in New York or Bali. Me, as a random person who happens to land on your social media page or even better, on your website. I want to see something that is of value, something I can learn, that I didn’t know before. Something that would entertain me and place me momentarily into your company’s world, in a new way I couldn’t have experienced elsewhere. It should take me to a different paradigm, that for a second replaces my own. This is when you have me or more importantly – my time and attention.
It’s not very difficult to achieve if you follow a few simple principles when it comes to your social media and marketing pursuits:
1- Very visual content
There is only so much you can do with text. Even if you have the most brilliant copywriters in your team who speak the same language as your intended audience and explain things in the simplest terms, it is very human to get bored after reading the first three lines of a post, left with no will to read any further.
The best engagement rates can be achieved when combining text and images or text and videos, even very short ones. Using special symbols, emojis and gifs is also an absolute norm, even if you might think that is too much or your audience are mainly boomers. No one wants to consume content that is too serious, there is enough of it online already. If you are aiming at branding your company as far-reaching and resolute, it can be achieved not through dry corporate posts, but by the quality of your replies to viewers’ comments on social media.
2- No stock footage
No matter how tempting or easy it may be for your marketing team, be sure to build an internal library of your company’s images that they should use. You can ask your employees to contribute, and my experience shows that many employees have very talented children or take very interesting photos and videos themselves that could be promoted through your company’s channels. You will be surprised how much more engagement these “user-generated” frames can trigger vs. fake, model-like, pretend shots.
3- Videos are king
An image is 100 times better than a text, but a video is 1,000 times better than an image. And 1,000 videos are 10,000 times better than anything else you have tried in the past. It’s not so much about creating perfect animated or live-action videos and interviews. It is about short and ultra-short form content, which is anywhere between 3 seconds and an hour-long, filled with B-roll (additional footage that intersects with the main roll), captions (which add to the theme) and subtitles (if your viewer doesn’t want to turn on the sound). Must-haves are: a very simple live-action video on what your company is and why it is different from all other companies in this field, a very simple animated video on what your core product is about and what problems it solves. The rest are videos you chose to produce, but it’s best to focus on 2-3 topics and then just produce, produce, produce.
4- Don’t invent, record
Many of you might ask – what topics? There’s only one rule here – do not invent your topics, as they’ll appear fake and unnatural. It’s not easy to fool your audience if the content is made up and scripted from a variety of other sources. Try to find: your unique topics, your distinct voice, and spice it up with a few subtleties, like a beginning or end phrase, slogan or symbol, a personalized signature or call to action that is different from anything else we have seen in the sea of other posts.
A good example could be producing a video – A Day In The Life Of An Intern At Your Research Lab. This clip could be so much more entertaining than a dry, corporate, and expensively produced video of Your CEO Visiting China Headquarters – the boss doesn’t always have to be the star of the show.
Post all content on this one spokesperson’s social media profiles and repost those from your company’s profiles later. This will help in two directions – automatically all your content will be produced with a thought in mind that it’s the public champion of yours who is posting and it will appear as less dry and corporate as a result. The content will be having a more personal touch, which means it is likely to be shared. And second, you increase the visibility of your posts by recycling the same content. What you want is your word to be spread in as many directions as possible.
And the final note:
How do you know if you’re on the right path with your content? There is only one indicator, or a Key Performance Indicator, as many marketers like to say: if your content is being liked, commented on and shared, you are doing OK. If this hasn’t occurred yet – adapt and post, and repeat this process, until you receive your first comment or your first share. Analyze and interact with your first comments, make conclusions, modify based on the new findings that bring you a comment or a share, and post again.
These are just a few hacks you can introduce to your marketing teams, but the strategy needs to be executed consistently, to really appreciate the first results within 4-5 months time, without expecting much before. There is just so much information online, particularly on the biggest platforms like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, therefore, I suggest you utilize the less-saturated LinkedIn and Tiktok for your new experiments first, slightly modifying and re-purposing the content for other platforms down the road.
If you have any questions, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to answer any questions and give you further advice on how to apply your marketing budget in the most effective way possible.