MarketingSquad Marketing Squad Mon, 06 Jul 2020 22:16:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 MarketingSquad 32 32 22975190 4 Key Takeaways for Experiential AR Marketing Mon, 06 Jul 2020 14:59:12 +0000 Augmented reality has received much attention over the last few month as stores closed their doors and consumers sheltered in place. AR brings the...

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Augmented reality has received much attention over the last few month as stores closed their doors and consumers sheltered in place. AR brings the in-store buying experience into consumers’ homes: Shoppers can see how a new pair of glasses, cute summer dresses, or freshly dropped sneakers look like on their own faces, bodies, and feet, thereby increasing their confidence when buying online. And even as physical stores reopen around the world, AR is a good solution for customers who worry about trying on items that have been touched by countless hands before them.

Augmented reality is clearly having a moment.

However, thinking about AR only in terms of an e-commerce play can badly backfire for brands. Helping customers gauge the dimensions and looks of products is important, no doubt, but this is merely a very narrow slice of AR’s potential for marketing. Because as marketers, we not only want to reassure customers… we wish to excite them.

Creating experiences that excite customers is more important than ever. A recent survey showed that 84% of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. Brands thus turn to experiential marketing campaigns in order to create memorable moments for customers and connect with them in emotionally charged ways.

The potential of augmented reality to create engaging experiences at scale is too often overlooked when AR’s use for marketing is confined to an e-commerce perspective. And that’s a shame, because AR solves several problems that are inherent in experiential marketing.

Experiential campaigns are often very limited in scope. Thus, while they produce strong emotional effects for those who are lucky enough to witness the experience first-hand, their efficacy is limited by the small reach. Brands can try to extend the reach by upping the stakes. Red Bull’s stratosphere jump was live streamed via YouTube and attracted millions of eyeballs. However, the experience here was a passively consumed one, rather than an active and embodied experience.

With over a Billion highly capable AR devices already in consumers’ hands today, augmented reality can provide active and engaging experiences at scale. In each of the examples below, AR shines not because it helped consumers imagine how a product would look like but because it transported them into an experience.

Tim Hortons Virtual Fireworks

Canadians celebrate their national holiday on July 1 every year. And even though the country has done a great job in containing the coronavirus crisis, or maybe because they are doing such a great job, Canada Day parades and public fireworks displays were cancelled for 2020. 

That was a huge opportunity for Tim Horton’s. A quintessential Canadian brand, Tim Hortons sponsored a virtual fireworks that was visible at 10 PM local time on July 1. It utilized web AR to display traditional looking fireworks into the night skies. But it added a twist: some of the explosions took more complex forms such as a beaver, hockey sticks, and a maple leaf. Never change, Canada!

Like a normal fireworks display, the show was over in about three minutes. The experience was available throughout the night but went offline at 5 AM the next morning.

Takeaway #1: AR Experiences are timely, but not old-timely

The Canada Day Virtual Fireworks experience adopted the same format of actual fireworks to resonate with people. But it also used AR to do things fireworks displays could not do in the real world, such as adding Canadian symbols and a longer timeframe to witness the event. Yet,  was still the urgency associated with live experiences. The webpage announced the show would go live at 10PM and offered an easy option to add the event to one’s calendar.

Budweiser’s 4th of July Lens

South of the boarder, Budweiser has for many years positioned itself as an all-American brand. In 2016, Budweiser’s ’America’ campaign even changed its product packaging to read ‘America’ instead of the brand name to celebrate Independence Day. A digital counter-part to this campaign was a Snapchat lens that enabled consumers to transform themselves into Uncle Sam. 

Budweiser is no stranger to experiential marketing. In 2014, it leveraged a Super Bowl ad and live experiences in its ‘Up for whatever’ campaign, and in 2020 it invited over 200 influencers to its BUDX hotel. However, in order to be part of these experiences, consumers have to be either extremely lucky or half-famous. 

Budweiser’s 2014 ‘Up for whatever’ campaign that excited masses, but did not involve them

The 4th of July AR lens is made for people like you and me. It’s self-serve experience that places each individual customer at the center of a cultural event. And since the lens was provided through social platform, word of mouth was only one tab away.

Takeaway #2: Use AR Experiences to place consumers into well-told brand stories

Budweiser has for years cultivated its all-American brand image. So when the Snapchat filter came along, consumers were able to put themselves not only at the center of a national holiday but a well-established brand narrative. 

Experiences are a great way to create a personal and emotional connection to a brand. But maybe especially with the self-serve experiences that AR affords at scale, having a strong brand established is vital for success. As a thought experiment, watch the ‘Up for whatever’ video above and imagine the whole experience was created by a completely unknown brand… let’s say, Chuckliner. It would still work, because the dude is living his best life, beating Arnold Schwarzenegger in table tennis. However, an Uncle Sam AR lens for July 4 would look a lot more opportunistic it it was sponsored by Chuckliner rather than Budweiser.

Adidas For The Oceans

Adidas also used an AR experience to connect consumers with their brand. The company’s goal is to replace all virgin polyester with recycled marine waste by 2024. To this end, it has partnered with ‘Parley for the Oceans’, an activist group that raises awareness for the fragility of our oceans and takes actions to end their destruction.

An in-store AR experience, run on a custom-built mobile app, transformed the store into an ocean. Consumers were able to get up close with whales but also saw a lot of plastic floating around these majestic creatures. It was an interactive experience that encouraged participation: Consumers picked up the plastic to progress the experience and learn how a threat turns into thread: Adidas uses the marine plastic to create yarn for 11 million pairs of shoes this year.

Similar to the Budweiser example above, this AR experience excels because it is deeply woven into an existing brand story of affecting change through sports and innovation. 

In addition, the AR experience also ties in with real-world experiential marketing campaigns. For example for World Oceans Day, Adidas has hosted 5K runs in New York and other major cities during which the streets were illuminated with blue lights to reflect undersea tones. 

Takeaway #3: Experiential AR Marketing is about shifting perspectives

Experiential AR marketing requires marketers to adopt a mindset that is fundamentally different from using AR for e-commerce. When displaying products via AR, a key concern is to make the visualizations look as real as possible so that they blend into consumers’ everyday realities almost unquestioned. That’s why textures, reflections, shadows, and the right scaling is so important.

In contrast, AR experiences work best when they transport consumers into completely different worlds. As an immersive medium, AR can provide visual experiences that are highly emotional and anchor new perspectives into consumers’ minds. In addition, the active nature of AR experiences can jumpstart behaviors through simulating actions. For example, picking up garbage in a virtual oceans may lead customers to pick up garbage at an actual beach.

United Way’s #Unignorable Tower

We all live busy lives, which makes it easy to ignore the hardship that exists right around us. In the Greater Toronto Area, for example, more than 116,000 individuals and families struggle to have a roof over their head. But like so many problems, it’s a faceless problem that seems removed from our everyday experience.

Experiential AR Marketing
“This tower isn’t real. The problem it represents is.”

This is why United Way created an app that displays an #Unignorable Tower into Toronto’s skyline. Standing at over 2.5 times the height of the CN Tower, it is visible from every part of town and a powerful reminder that 1 in 7 residents aren’t always able to make ends meet. As United Way puts it: “This tower isn’t real. The problem it represents is.”

Takeaway #4: AR Experiences are spatial, but not other-worldly

As AR cloud technology is rapidly maturing, marketers have new opportunities to create AR experiences that are anchored in particular places. Apple recently announced Location Anchors in its iOS update. Combined with powerful depth sensors that already exist in the iPad (and will without a doubt come to the iPhone in 2020), our handheld devices will be able to make sense of their environment and emplace virtual things at specific locations.

This enables marketers to create large-scale alternative realities whose power lies in transforming consumers’ perspectives within their familiar surroundings. Other visual media, including virtual reality, transport viewers away from their actual world into a fictional world. Like something that happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Research on narrative transportation has shown that being immersed in external brand world does affect consumers’ ideas and actions. The interesting question is: Would that effect be stronger if consumers experienced these alternate realities emplaced in their familiar surroundings? 

We don’t have a definitive answer for this, yet. However, based on my ongoing research on Pokémon Go players, the effect of verisimilitude (i.e., how real something feels) that has been demonstrated for traditional media, and the recent popularity of alternate history shows (e.g., Watchmen, The Plot Against America), I am pretty sure the answer is ‘yes’.

United Way created a powerful shift in consumers’ perspectives by transporting them into an alternative reality, not into an external world. While this campaign utilized a single AR object that was widely visible, other campaigns that take advantage of the emerging AR cloud can adopt much more distributed approaches. For example, certain street corners could host experiences that need to be discovered by consumers. 

Early experimentations by Nike already demonstrated the potential these kinds of under-cover experiences have for hyping sneakers. The AR cloud allows to create these scavenger hunts at a larger scale and in more visual ways. I expect this use case of AR become much more prevalent over the next few years.

Imagine the Bigger Potential of AR

Augmented reality certainly provides radical new opportunities for e-commerce. However, it would be a mistake to pigeon-hole AR into the basic formula that imagining a product leads to more buyer’s confidence, which in turn increases conversion and reduces returns.

Experiential AR marketing follows a different trajectory. Rather than being focused on conversion, it is focused on brand building. And rather than creating a single virtual object that is embedded into physical space in ways that don’t change consumers’ perceived realities, experiential AR meaningfully transforms consumers’ subjective worlds through potentially emplacing thousands of distributed AR objects.

photo credit: Aleks Marinkovic

There are two reasons why it is important to recognize AR’s potential for experiential marketing, and why it might be the even the more important one for marketers: The first has to do with our modern understanding of marketing. While conversions are of course important, they are the effect of larger branding efforts that focus on building emotional connections, trust, excitement, and word of mouth. The statistic at the top of this article makes clear that consumers long for experiences, and each of the examples discussed above is a lot more likely to be shared on social than the perfect rendering of a handbag. 

‘Create customers who create more customers’ is a central axiom of digital marketing. Experiential AR does exactly that, and it is enabled by recent developments like web AR and cloud AR. Once AR glasses become more available in the next three to five years, this train becomes unstoppable.

A second reason is inherent to AR’s media qualities and their relationship to the alternatives that exist for shopping and engaging in experiences. No matter how well a product visualization is rendered, it will always lack the material properties that are associated with the actual product. An AR handbag might have very intricate textures, but it lacks the rich smell of leather (at least for now) or any indication of its weight. This doesn’t mean that AR product visualizations are useless; it just means that marketers need to be acutely aware of the weaknesses and strengths of this format.

AR experiences also lack some of the materiality that makes experiential marketing successful. However, the more dominating aspect is that consumers have embodied experiences they can enjoy flexibly and at scale. The fact that the water of Adidas’ For the Oceans app isn’t real is actually a good thing, since it would be a hard ask to make shoppers dripping wet. And getting a permit to install a 2 Million gallon fish tank in your store isn’t easy either. At the same time, AR is better than using digital screens because it preserves the embodied component of the experience (i.e., consumers twist, turn, and move their entire bodies to explore the ocean, not just their eyeballs).

And that’s the key difference to e-commerce use cases: AR can level-up experiences, whereas product visualizations have a natural ceiling (i.e., the real thing) they can never reach. 

AR directly plays into consumer fantasies and excitement, and that’s what marketing is all about.

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How to successfully implement purpose-driven marketing? Authenticity is crucial. Mon, 16 Dec 2019 16:00:00 +0000 Nowadays, consumers ​support purpose-driven companies. Now that purpose-driven marketing is trendy, companies hop on the bandwagon with the wrong intentions, prioritizing popularity over actual...

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Nowadays, consumers ​support purpose-driven companies. Now that purpose-driven marketing is trendy, companies hop on the bandwagon with the wrong intentions, prioritizing popularity over actual impact.

To have a meaningful brand, however, you must comprehensively adopt your values in everything you do. Leading us to ask, how do you contribute to the cultural conversation ​authentically​?

In order to be successful in purpose-driven marketing, you must choose a specific purpose to live by. After determining your core value or ideology, you must then come up with strategies to implement it in all aspects of your brand. Here, consistency is key. You must not only claim a purpose but act on it.

In this article, we will show you how not to miss the mark and some strategies to succeed. In purpose-driven marketing, authenticity is crucial.

Brands like Barbie: “Talking the Talk”

First, we see what not to do. This way we understand the importance of authenticity in purpose-driven branding. To promote diversity, Barbie reimagined their traditional blonde-haired, blue-eyed Barbie to create a wider range of dolls.

Despite trying to support relevant cultural conversations, you can still be called out for being inauthentic. Barbie was called out for not fully embracing body diversity, and faced the negative press as a result.

barbie's purpose-driven marketing recieved backlash on social media.

In order to avoid these mistakes, you must fully research the cause you want to support. On top of this, you must genuinely try and help, not just use it for positive press. Consumers can sense authenticity​ and will make purchase decisions based on its prevalence in a brand.

Fabletics: “Walking the Walk”

So, how do you brand ​authentically​? ​Fabletics,​ an activewear brand founded in 2013, is a prime example of authentic​ purpose-driven marketing.

Fabletics chose their purpose and exemplify it in all aspects of their business. They emphasize body positivity rather than promote traditional notions of a healthy body.

purpose-driven marketing reflects Fabletics' support for body positivity.

We can see that you have to live out and commit to your ideology. By remaining consistent, you will earn the trust of those who believe you’re supporting their ideologies.

Cultivate the message throughout the entire brand and product line, not just the advertising strategy.

Purpose-driven marketing allows you to give your customers the feeling that they’re helping. By purchasing your product, people feel as though they’re supporting a cause they believe in. This allows your brand to be more than a product, and become part of your customer’s life.

Perfecting the product.

Your stance must first and foremost be reflected by your product. Whether that’s inclusive sizes for body positivity or sustainable products for a green company. Kate Hudson explains why Fabletics decide to adopt plus sizes in their offering:

“We all set these standards of what we think is the perfect body, but we should be changing the dialogue to what makes you feel good. the world of health and fitness and wellness should be inclusive to everyone.”

purpose-driven marketing online means tailoring to and supporting an ideology

When constructing a brand that authentically supports a specific purpose, it’s important to cultivate the message throughout your entire brand and product line, not just your advertising strategy.

Authenticity with advertisements and influencers

Not only should you tailor your product, but your promotions too. With a focus on influencer marketing and user-generated content, your messaging should always align with your values.

Fabletics’ strength in social media marketing is their use of micro and macro influencers of all body types. This is consistent with their messaging about body positivity, so it empowers their customers to feel confident.

Below is ​Sarah Rae Vargas​, a Fabletics influencer who encourages body positivity and confidence.

Here we see a paid yet unscripted review of Fabletics clothing. When your influencers’ values align with yours, their content is genuine and you earn the trust of their followers.

Supporting your stance Through Content Marketing

In addition to social media, you should also produce content on your website​.​ This will serve as evidence of your dedication to a purpose. Successful content marketing spends little time on promotion and provides something of value to the consumer. A free offering earns good faith with potential customers and adds value to existing ones.

For example, Fabletics offers strategies online for how to meet your fitness goals in everyday life.

Through their blog, Fabletics shows a strong commitment to their consumers’ health. They provide healthy recipes, workout routines, and tips for living a balanced lifestyle. They maintain their cultural ideology by encouraging customers to live well.

Fabletics' Purpose-Driven Marketing is Focused Around Body Positivity.

To be ​genuinely​ authentic, you must choose a purpose and stick to it.

Implementing Purpose-Driven Marketing

With the rise of purpose-driven marketing, it is crucial to remain authentic and consistent throughout your entire brand. Consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they believe to be authentic. To be ​genuinely​ authentic, you must choose a purpose and stick to it.

Fabletics is an example of success, as they contribute to a cultural conversation and prioritize their ideology in everything they do. Through their inclusive product, atypical models, and content marketing, they allow consumers a purpose with which to align themselves.

By remaining authentic across all platforms, you will allow your users and consumers to be authentic as well.

This post was written by Tori Hemphill, Daena Hardash, Krista Hershfield, and Sara Lesher. The authors thank Archie Mitchell and Dr. Joachim Scholz for their help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

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Forget influencer marketing! But what’s next? Tue, 29 Oct 2019 16:00:36 +0000 Influencer marketing is heading to a crisis: Consumers increasingly perceive influencers as inauthentic. As a recent report shows, ​only 23% of people believe content...

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Influencer marketing is heading to a crisis: Consumers increasingly perceive influencers as inauthentic. As a recent report shows, ​only 23% of people believe content from celebrities and influencers is influential​. As skepticism grows, how do you engage and resonate with consumers?

Brands can escape the “inauthenticity trap” of influencer marketing by focusing on good old organic word of mouth. But this is easier said than done: Instead of simply buying reach and resonance via influencers, brands have to find ways to build their own multipliers.

It might not be easy, but hard is good. Returning to organic word of mouth gives marketers something that is missing with influencer marketing: A true differentiator that provides a sustainable competitive advantage. While influencer marketing is often a race won by the brand with the deepest pockets, returning to organic word of mouth puts the emphasis back on creating strong brands that excite customers. And this excitement is hard to copy by your competitors.

How can you excite customers so that they happily engage in word of mouth?

Align your brand with cultural values that are central to your customers’ lives.

In this article, we explain how Allbirds gives other sneaker companies a run for their money by staying true to their values in everything they do. Through this genuine and authentic approach, customers fall in love with the brand and won’t stop talking about it.

Good-bye influencer marketing, hello brand advocates

Allbirds customers serve as brand advocates, engaging in word of mouth online. ​The brand has almost exclusively relied on word of mouth marketing. This word of mouth is evident across social media platforms, especially Twitter.

Though Allbirds use influencer marketing, there are far more posts by ordinary consumers sharing images of their shoes. With skepticism in influencers rising, organic word of mouth reaches users through those they trust.

While influencers prompt skepticism, organic word of mouth inspires trust

When a brand resonates with consumers, they post content as a result. But how do create a brand that resonates? Your brand has to become value-oriented rather than being stuck on touting the functional benefits of your product.

Allbirds achieves cultural resonance by focusing on sustainability as their core value, and consumers take notice (see tweet below). Your brand might embrace a different value system: equality, freedom, fighting against big business, you take your pick. Just make sure that you really establish this value to be the core of everything you do.

Become value-oriented

Going cold turkey on influencer marketing requires you to rethink what your brand stands for. Allbirds is famously known as “The World’s Most Comfortable Shoe”. But that’s only half of their story.

When efficient and well-designed products are commonplace, you must position your brand in more meaningful ways. Functional attributes alone aren’t enough to stand out.

Your value system should align closely with that of your customer, leading to a relationship in which customers adopt the role of brand advocates. Particularly as Millenials come to dominate the marketplace, it’s vital to take a stance in order to engage with them.

One way is to connect the functional attributes of your product to your core values. Allbirds focuses heavily on sustainability in its messaging. By adopting a topical issue you can become a culturally relevant brand. See below how their marketing materials emphasize their commitment to sustainability.

Allbirds explain their product’s benefits in a humorous video.

Stay true to your values

Allbirds is a brand that embraces its values completely: it has a minimal environmental impact, uses all-natural materials, and is a certified B corporation. All this demonstrates Allbirds commitment to sustainability. And in an age where so many brands claim to be “green”, consumers really want to see commitment before spreading word of mouth.

By driving word of mouth to spread awareness of product materials, Allbirds communicates its environmental impact to consumers. The values highlighted in your marketing campaign should encourage consumers to share the brand with one another.

organic content is more authentic than influencer marketing

All this helps Allbirds to drive organic word of mouth, and so can your brand. The key thing to remember is: By focusing on cultural values over functional attributes (“The world’s most comfortable shoe”), your brand story gains authenticity in consumers’ eyes and thus encourages conversation about your brand.

Not influencers, but partners

Allbirds also demonstrates its values by forming partnerships with non-profit organizations. For example, they partner with Soles4Souls, an organization that distributes shoes to people in need.

By partnering with an organization with shared cultural values to yours, you emphasize your commitment to the causes your customers care about. On top of this, partnerships increase the size of your potential market. They allow you to attract supporters you may not reach otherwise.

Stay committed in every detail

In order to really show your commitment, you must weave your values through your entire value chain. Just posting some “woke” pics on Instagram and donating some money to a non-profit is not enough!

Allbirds demonstrates its commitment to environmental values not only through their product design, but also through their product packaging. That’s right, we’re talking about shoe boxes. Allbird’s packaging uses 90% recycled cardboard and it does double duty by also serving as the shipping box. This saves waste when shipping the shoes and demonstrates the brand’s commitment to sustainability right at the moment when consumers have their first experience with the actual product. What great timing!

So here’s another key thing to remember for your own brand: To create cultural relevance and drive word of mouth you must be consistent in every detail of your offering.

Influencer marketing is in trouble

Influencer marketing is in big trouble as more and more consumers wonder how much influencers are really using the product – let alone loving it! Millennial consumers look for authenticity in brands, and Gen Z consumers do it even more. All this means that it’s soon going to be game over for influencer marketing strategies that treat influencers as just another communications channel.

You need a new gameplan. By embracing cultural values, you can create a resonating brand story that connects with consumers in a deeper way than brands that focus on functional attributes alone. You can turn your customers into brand advocates, thus unlocking a competitive advantage that is hard to copy by your competitors.

Does your brand embrace a certain cultural value? Reach out to us, we would love to hear about it!

This post was written by Sam Toland, Cecily Saunders, Caroline Ster, Marisa Savage, and Dr. Joachim Scholz. The authors thank Archie Mitchell for his help in editing this article. Please follow MKTGsquad and the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

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Omnipresence in the Marketing Landscape. What You Need to Know Mon, 23 Sep 2019 16:00:39 +0000 The world will continue to digitally develop. Therefore, the concept of omnipresence​ marketing is an essential strategy for your businesses. Do you want to...

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The world will continue to digitally develop. Therefore, the concept of omnipresence​ marketing is an essential strategy for your businesses.

Do you want to compete in the digital age? Then you need to achieve omnipresence by providing multiple channels of interaction between yourself and your consumer.

To utilize this digital change will mean stronger relationships with consumers. This flows from allowing them to interact with your brand in real-time.

Omnipresence focuses heavily on augmented reality and social media. These are the technologies which should be integrated with your traditional strategies.

Now, companies like Domino’s have realized this and are experimenting with tools such as AI, and platforms like Alexa, Twitter, Snapchat, and more.

Omnipresence means meeting customers on the channels they’re on

With most time spent on digital channels, you must meet your customers on where they’re comfortable. Furthermore, to attract a variety of customers, you must use various digital technologies. These can be leveraged to heighten the overall customer experience.

Omnipresence will benefit your brand and improve overall customer experiences. This is because an omnichannel strategy enables users to engage with your brand more thoroughly. Thus, creating a more memorable experience.

Your omnichannel strategy can include a variety of channels. For example; e-commerce, mobile applications, social media, and physical locations. These options will engage customers on multiple platforms throughout their decision journey.

Domino’s provides a perfect example of how to execute omnipresence and the value of it in today’s age.

We see from the AnyWare Campaign, Domino’s integrates itself across all potential customer touchpoints. In doing so, it allows purchasing across all platforms and devices consumers are using.

Increasing customer value through innovation

Domino’s excels at leveraging digital technologies in its marketing efforts. As a result of its strides at the forefront of new technologies, it has built deep relationships with its customers. Through building these relationships

In the last decade, Domino’s has seen a shift. From cheap delivery option to a company which is involved in every aspect of their consumers’ life. In doing so, they have shown that omnipresence in marketing is one of the key ways to stand out in the digital age.

Through technology, you augment your product offering. This can be through greater accessibility, convenience, or responsiveness. These benefits of omnipresence all improve customer experience.

Being available at all times

Consumers are now connected whether they are working, playing music, tweeting, and much more. This means your service has to be accessible on every platform. To make your product available immediately.

Using omnipresence in marketing has huge results. For example, Domino’s is now the leading pizza delivery service. Below, we see their Anyware Campaign explained further

Shifting to voice recognition

The future is in voice recognition. This is shown by Domino’s launching a feature allowing customers to place mobile orders through a virtual ordering assistant, Dom. This was a way to personalize the ordering process, removing the barrier of online ordering platforms.

With AI, you can ditch traditional purchasing methods and facilitate a true conversation with your company. This is just one of the many ways AI is changing the way marketers think about their products.

Embracing immediacy

Immediacy is everything in today’s marketing landscape – it can make all the difference when customers have a range of substitute options. Thus, omnipresence is the key to competing in the crowded landscape of today’s marketing world.

As seen, being accessible on all platforms will take you to the next level. Whether a product or service, you’ll move from a product offering to an integrated part of your customer’s life.

Keeping up

It is vital to stay in touch with the rising digital innovations and advancements that brands are using; whether you’re a marketing guru, educator, marketing student, or an interested consumer.

Augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and omnipresence are key elements of the marketing mix. So, as we continue on in 2019, pay attention to the trends discussed in this article. On top of this, work to integrate these strategies into your own marketing mix.

This post was written by Alex Weinstein, Olivia Vanhoy, Alice Mayoral, and Katie Lovelace. The authors thank Archie Mitchell and Dr. Joachim Scholz for their help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

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Product branding. How to make your marketing hotter. Mon, 16 Sep 2019 16:00:08 +0000 More brands than ever are entering the market. Strong product branding will help you not get washed away in the digital age. Quality, community,...

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More brands than ever are entering the market. Strong product branding will help you not get washed away in the digital age. Quality, community, and open-source branding will help you stand out.

The following framework will help put your brand at the forefront of consumers’ minds. Hydro Flask, a company that manufactures insulated water bottles, has shown the way.

Product branding starts with quality

Your high-quality brand should be based on a promise to consumers. From here, continually meet this promise to cultivate trust.

Hydro Flask established itself as a top-quality brand from the start. By stressing the integrity of both the product and the brand they built a brand – and product – people trust.

Hydro Flask's product branding emphasizes quality.

Your promise sets the foundation of your brand-customer relationship. One way to build trust in quality is through a warranty. This tells customers that you have confidence in the quality of your products.

A quality product alone won’t build a successful brand. It can help, however, to encourage consumers to engage with you – producing open-source content.

Encouraging user-generated content

Creating a high-quality product is just a start! From here you want consumers to interact with your brand. Successful product branding invokes positive connotations with the product amongst your target market.

Hydro Flask uses user-generated content to support their social media feed. Engaging hashtags encourage customers to strive to be a part of the brand.

When consumers willingly post content with your product you earn advocacy among their social followers. Also, by re-posting consumer content, you earn trust and show authenticity to your tribe.

“User-generated content IS the most important foundation of successful product branding.”

User-generated content IS the most important foundation of successful product branding. You should actively engage consumers and position them at the core of your brand.

Transparency in marketing

To create an authentic brand, you must be transparent with your consumers. This allows customers to feel confident that you are genuine in your values.

Consumers are curious and can find most anything about a brand via the internet.

But, you can use this to your advantage. Learn to embrace transparency, and you will stand out amongst competitors and secure loyal customers too.

56% of people say they would stay loyal to a brand for life it was completely transparent. On top of this, 73% say they would pay more for a product that was completely transparent. Talk is cheap and consumers want to put their money with a brand who sincerely shares their values.

Hydro Flask puts a big focus on transparency. They have established themselves as an environmentally friendly brand and stayed consistent. This shows the importance of truly embracing your brand values.  

Take notes from Hydro-Flask and illustrate to consumers that your brand image is authentic. You will gain their trust and advocacy!

Relationships are crucial

Relationships are everything. You can no longer rely on just functional attributes. Take additional steps to create loyal customers. Form emotional bonds with consumers by aligning with consumer’s identities.

But how can you achieve this?

Like any healthy, strong relationship, it takes work! The first step you can take is self-reflection. You must deeply and authentically know your brand purpose. Knowing your brand purpose allows you to stand for something bigger than products!

Taking a stance and elevating a product to be something more is priceless! People want to connect with a brand. So stand for something, have a purpose, and your brand advocates will come. Lastly, stay true to your purpose!

When you know your purpose, and every action upholds that purpose, you will see your relationships grow.

Their product branding focuses on attracting high quality user-generated content.

Creating Community

You can’t just form relationships with your customers. It is important to facilitate relationships between customers, too. Hydro flask targets micro-communities that share the same values.

To be successful at product branding you must form relationships between customers, too.
Hydroflask lets customers bond over shared interests.

Hydro Flask sponsors and hosts events for their micro-tribes to engage with the product and other customers.

By having an authentic purpose, Hydro Flask has been able to bring people together who share similar lifestyles and ideologies.

So remember, know your brand purpose, form relationships with your consumers, and go that extra step to facilitate relationships between them.

Product Branding goes beyond the product.

In today’s marketing world, you can’t rely solely on advertising. You need to also ensure that the message resonates with consumers’ ideologies.

You must go beyond simply looking at the functional attributes of a product. Come up with something that resonates with your target audience.

Offer quality, community, open-source, and relationships in your product branding. And you can build an authentic image that is never lukewarm.

This post was written by Jacqueline Pederson, Brooke Peters, Lauren Ralston,and Mia Siri. The authors thank Archie Mitchell and Dr. Joachim Scholz for their help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

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How to Defeat Industry Giants in the Digital Era: Micro-tribal marketing Mon, 15 Jul 2019 16:00:52 +0000 Micro-tribal marketing builds loyalty by offering users experiences. This is especially true since the digital disruption. What we now see are digitally native brands...

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Micro-tribal marketing builds loyalty by offering users experiences. This is especially true since the digital disruption. What we now see are digitally native brands turning entire industries on their heads by offering hyper-tailored customer experiences.

Alo Yoga is a great example: Through micro-tribal marketing, Alo Yoga is able to compete with established ‘top dog’ Lululemon.

In this article, we offer three key tips for successful micro-tribal marketing. Encourage user-generated content, facilitate your micro-tribe and create a sense of community.

Emerging brands once had a hard time going head-to-head with existing giants. With micro-tribal marketing, that no longer has to be true.

Encourage User-Generated Content

One of Alo’s most prominent methods of tribal marketing is encouraging user-generated content. They enhance consumers’ experience with things like a weekly ​Alo Challenge.​ ​

Interactive challenges, however, do more than gain exposure for a brand; they create a shared experience between customers. Brands can create spaces for users to find other users, and to bond with the brand, creating a community.

Alo Challenges inspire customers to interact with the brand on social media.
Alo Challenges inspire customers to interact with the brand on social media.

The results of an interactive challenge can be incredible. For Alo, they often generate more than 1,300 pieces of user-generated content. This exchange between brand and consumer reinforces their connection and further builds loyalty.

In contrast, brands like Lululemon rely on paid ​ambassadors. While ambassadors help to achieve reach, they can compromise a brand’s ability to develop sincere bonds with its tribe.

Alo Yoga has fully welcomed their micro-tribe into the brand.

Through sacrificing control of their image, they acquire something​ ​much more worthwhile: consumers feeling deeply invested in the brand.

Incorporating interactive activities with your products offers an intrinsic reward for engaging with the brand. To succeed at micro-tribal marketing, you must give users a platform to interact with each other, and with your brand.

Helping Your Customer Reach Their Goals

Alo customers have another opportunity to interact with the brand through its ​YouTube Channel. ​YouTube can enhance a brand’s offering, with complementary material beyond the product itself.

Alo caters perfectly to the elite yogi micro-tribe, offering valuable experiences in exchange for subscribers.

To penetrate an already competitive market, you must focus on depth before breadth. Successful micro-tribal marketing focuses on the most specific communities possible. This allows you in the door, to start earning advocacy and user-generated content.

Below is an example of a free class offered on Alo Yoga’s YouTube account.

Alo Yoga has 174,000 YouTube subscribers, more than double Lululemon’s.

Creating Community

An even stronger way to differentiate oneself is through a paid subscription package. Alo Moves is a more in-depth version of their YouTube channel.

The small financial investment required ensures continual engagement.

Alo offers a subscription to enhance user experience and increase engagement.
Alo offers a subscription to enhance user experience and increase engagement.

In this way, they have created a paid social media platform. This use of tribal marketing empowers customers to connect with one another. It can take you beyond a brand, so customers view you as an outlet for expression.

Successful tribal marketing can take your brand and product far beyond functional benefits. Offerings like apps, supplemental materials, and community platforms enhance the value of a product.

These add-ons deepen a customers’ connection with you, helping you to stay relevant in the digital age.


Micro-Tribal Marketing and Your Brand

When it comes to micro-tribal marketing, Alo Yoga is at the forefront of the movement.

The disruption of industry giants is likely to continue due to digital and new media marketing. Alo Yoga and others are creating invaluable shared experiences that cannot be replicated.

If your brand can do the same, you’ll find it is possible to survive​—​and thrive​—​against the “top dog” in your industry.

This post was written by Carly Auerbach, Eunice Lee, Clare McCarthy,and Olivia Nelson. The authors thank Archie Mitchell and Dr. Joachim Scholz for their help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

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How to Win at Lifestyle Branding: a Look at Los Sundays Mon, 01 Jul 2019 16:00:18 +0000 From the outside, Los Sundays are just another tequila company. For its consumers, though, Los Sundays is an important part of what makes them,...

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From the outside, Los Sundays are just another tequila company. For its consumers, though, Los Sundays is an important part of what makes them, well… them.

Which means that for marketers, Los Sundays is the perfect example of lifestyle branding that can teach us a lot about how brands can create unique connections with their target markets.

Los Sundays was founded with the core values of “Quality, Originality, and Style”. And every detail – from the name and high-quality product to their exceptional tribal marketing and use of consumer-generated-content – stands out in a crowded market.

Let’s take a closer look at how these ingredients can help transform your own into a lifestyle.

The Product

The brand was born after its founders discovered a 100% Blue Weber Agave in Mexico. From that moment, the company took off. With the fast development of the product, the brand came to life. It grew around elements of the Southern California lifestyle.

Passion and original style became embedded in every single aspect of the brand. Today, this goes far beyond their uniquely flavored bottles of tequila.

The product comes as all products should. Supplemented with additional offerings. Buying a bottle of Los Sundays means you get your tequila served with content and merchandise as a side garnish.

Your company should also go beyond just goods. Offering content and services to enrich customers lives, helping build their connection to your brand, for instance. Engaging in lifestyle branding in this way you will earn you trust and advocacy from your customers.

“Tequila Kills The Boredom”

“Tequila Kills The Boredom” is written on all Los Sundays’ merchandise. Here they make a jab at alcohol not being the healthiest choice, but still, suggest it is a good one.

Los Sundays' brand focuses around the phrase "tequila kills the boredom".
Los Sundays’ brand focuses around the phrase “tequila kills the boredom”.

Their wordplay implies that drinking Los Sundays’ tequila will ‘kill’ anyone’s boredom. This aligns with their community’s inherent desire for fun.

The idea of “killing boredom” evokes a customer’s desire for rebellious excitement. This is the feeling the founders had while bringing their dream to life.

Wearing the brand’s merchandise gives customers the opportunity and the confidence to pursue that feeling. This bonds them to an irreplaceable tribal identity. Los Sundays’ lifestyle branding is centered around “tequila kills the boredom”. They keep the message consistent and central throughout campaigns.

To become a successful lifestyle brand you must offer consumers a way to express themselves. Your role goes beyond transactions and sees you help your customer to be themselves.

Emotional and resonating content

Los Sundays have a tribal following on its social platforms. They take a unique approach on Instagram, in particular.

The Los Sundays brand successfully captures all sides of its target market by maintaining two unique Instagram accounts: @los_sundays and @aboutlastsunday.

The Los Sundays Instagram account is a product-driven feed that showcases their offerings through stylized photos. The About Last Sunday account, however, takes a completely different Approach. They use consumer-generated content and storytelling to build deep and authentic connections with their customers.

With these two accounts, Los Sundays followers get the opportunity to see Los Sunday’s branded content. More importantly, though, to engage with the Los Sundays’ lifestyle branding.

One of few posts on About Last Sunday featuring their product.
One of few posts on About Last Sunday featuring their product.

Despite both accounts being run by Los Sundays, About Last Sunday rarely displays their tequila products. Instead, the feed is made up of photos from Los Sundays consumers.

The re-posting of photos from their tribe strengthens the bond between their followers and the brand.

What does this all mean in terms of lifestyle branding? Not only do you have to empower consumers to express themselves, but as a lifestyle brand, you must interact with consumers. By leaning on consumer-generated content you foster a genuine connection between your company and the consumers.

Creating Community

Los Sundays create an authentic community by targeting a very specific tribe: Millennials that embody the Southern California lifestyle. This is a group that sets out to enjoy everyday life and love to indulge in high-quality goods and experiences. With intimate storytelling, Los Sundays are able to portray a lifestyle that people want to be part of.

Consumers drink the product, wear the merchandise, and attend Los Sundays sponsored events. Being involved in the Los Sundays lifestyle creates community.

This sense of gaining access to a community by participating in the brand lifestyle increases buy-in.

Los Sundays’ inside track creates a deeply connected brand community. They show that creating a community is the final ingredient to creating a successful lifestyle brand.

About Last Sunday

With their original product, unique merchandise, and tightknit community, Los Sundays are taking the lead in today’s digital marketing.

Los Sundays show us the way to build a successful and intimate lifestyle brand. High-quality product, value-added content, and a strong sense of community around the brand.

This post was written by Aleks Ruplenas and Kerstin Steiger. The authors thank Dr. Joachim Scholz for his guidance in writing this article, and Archie Mitchell for his help in editing this article. Please follow MKTGsquad and the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

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How to engage millennials and why Taco Bell gets it right Mon, 03 Jun 2019 16:00:41 +0000 I have this one friend on Twitter, they’re the best. I’ll bet you have at least one friend like them too. They tell jokes,...

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I have this one friend on Twitter, they’re the best. I’ll bet you have at least one friend like them too.

They tell jokes, they know their life is a mess and aren’t afraid to embrace it, they know they aren’t creating world peace and they aren’t afraid to admit it. They posted one tweet that had me laughing for 10 minutes.

My friend is a taco…

Taco Bell offers far more to engage with millennials than cheap and easy food.

Well more specifically, Taco Bell.

Taco Bell isn’t competing to stand up for social causes like Nike or Gillette. They instead focus on creating relatable content to engage millennials. They distribute content on platforms where consumers can engage and interact with their brand.

Taco Bell has brand intimacy because of their ability to follow and adopt millennial trends. This allows them to appear in people’s minds as a “cool friend”, providing them with stories and memes rather than advertisements.

They use honest, transparent, and engaging marketing across multiple platforms to develop their brand authenticity.

Below: we will discuss their presence on Reddit, the Taco emoji campaign, and their voice on social media, particularly Twitter to show how your company can engage millennials and stay relevant in 2019.

Engaging with millennials – Twitter.

Successful branding in 2019 means making connections. That can be by taking a stance on social issues or taking a stab at your competitors. But the content most likely to engage Millenials? Humor.

Taco Bell creates brand authenticity with its philosophy of not taking itself too seriously, meaning it is perceived as a friend as opposed to a brand.

Taco Bell engages with millennials by targeting other brands on Twitter
Taco Bell claps back at Old Spice in a playful interaction.

Generally, when HuffPost says they want to be your best friend, you’re getting something right. Taco Bell shows us: by inserting yourself in the right spaces, you can prove you are in tune with millennial culture.

Tweeting about Mean Girls, Taco Bell presents itself as a fan, relating with the Mean Girls fans of the world. Clapping back at Old Spice, Taco Bell presents itself as human and shows it too can be sassy and facetious.

Through sending gifts to customers, it leverages its social relevance to earn advocacy from users. This includes everyday users to influencers with up to 600,000 followers.

Taco Bell’s authentic branding is evident in every tweet.  

So how can you stick out to consumers as a friend rather than a brand? Stay light-hearted, actively respond to critiques, and keep up to date with trends and tastes.

The Taco Emoji

Taco Bell uses the emoji trend to engage with millennials
Taco Bell utilizes the emoji trend to engage with customers.

One of Taco Bell’s most remarkable feats is recognizing the increasing dependence on Emojis across society. On June 17th, 2015, the taco was inducted into Unicode’s set of emojis. This was because Taco Bell ran a petition on which reached 32,687 signatures.

Taco Bell used its perception as a casual brand. Leveraging a usually serious medium to talk about an almost comedic issue.

Not only did they reach 10s of thousands through and secure the bragging rights associated with creating an emoji. Taco Bell earned huge amounts of engagement on Twitter. Users could tweet Taco Bell to combine two emojis into one (as shown below). Taco Bell would respond with a creation from its emoji engine.

Watch to see how Taco Bell created an emoji to engage with millennial smartphone users.

Taco Bell caused a spike in user engagement on Twitter. Being able to directly interact with the corporation’s official Twitter account builds personability and relatability.

Also, they turn core fans into influencers, leveraging their accounts to spread advocacy and build trust.

Millennials resonate far more with influencers than traditional marketing.

Traditional marketers design campaigns to display product value. However, for Taco Bell, marketing means ​creating ​value by delivering meaningful content to consumers.

In short, marketing shouldn’t be about the product, but about the connection people feel to your brand.

Taco Bell on Reddit

Reddit has historically been unfriendly to brands, being considered by CNBC to have the least valuable users.

So, instead of trying to seek ways to advertise to redditors, Taco Bell breaks the cycle, giving Redditors what they need – something to talk about. Users in r/TacoBell can find discussion about the restaurant, memes, and frequent posts of user’s meals.

Reddit is a close-knit community of people sharing information and opinions. Its users are skeptical. Consequently, to gain acceptance into the Reddit community, a brand must give control to the user.

Taco Bell steps back and allows users to steer the conversation, resulting in unconventional earned media in the form of memes.

Redditor u/_crunchwrap_ uses Taco Bell as a meme in r/TacoBell.

Taco Bell’s designated subreddit hosts a community of people who feel connected to what the brand shares. It dwarfs competitors, like Wendy’s and Burger King, with 41,000 subscribers.

Taco Bell is authentic in the media it distributes whilst others get sniffed out and torn apart for lackluster endorsements of social causes (Pepsi). On the contrary, Taco Bell inspires users to share and spoof the content they create.

Top posts on Taco Bell’s subreddit show that to achieve acceptance into a tightknit community, a brand must be willing to be memed by its users.

For example, by not taking yourself too seriously, you can thrive by handing users content and allowing them to repurpose and distribute it as they like.

Taco Bell on Snapchat

Snapchat is seeing huge growth and offers the perfect outlet for interactive content. Taco Bell is taking advantage of the new ‘social networking app of millennials‘ by allowing them to depict themselves as Tacos through augmented reality.

To engage millennials Taco Bell used AR and Snapchat.
See how users depict themselves as Tacos through AR.

Snapchat saw its company record for most views in a day smashed by Taco Bell‘s 2016 sponsored lens campaign. The company uses flexible and funny content to engage millennials and allows them the freedom to create what they want to share.

Taco Bell, engaging millennials.

Taco Bell takes up a meaningful spot in its customers lives by deliberately not taking itself too seriously. Its honest and authentic marketing gives users control over how they interact with the brand, allowing it to engage millennials in online communities like Twitter and Reddit.

You can engage millennials by being honest with yourself and your customers. By claiming to have the best products or pretending to be fighting for the social causes they care about you expose yourself to scrutiny. However, by providing users with valuable content you allow yourself to become a part of a community.

This post was written by Cindy Flores and Blake Axtell. The post was edited by Archie Mitchell and Dr. Joachim Scholz. Please contact the authors for more information on this topic.

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How can you survive the digital disruption? Maybe listen to Spotify… Mon, 06 May 2019 21:07:15 +0000 The digital disruption has shattered the foundations of many industries. Entire sectors relating to news (Huffington post, Medium), transportation (Uber, Lyft), and travel (AirBnB,...

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The digital disruption has shattered the foundations of many industries. Entire sectors relating to news (Huffington post, Medium), transportation (Uber, Lyft), and travel (AirBnB, Tripadvisor) were transformed once the rules of the game had changed. Whether you are an established company or a newcomer, you probably ask yourself: How can we thrive in this new competitive landscape? To answer this question, it’s worth listening to Spotify… and seeing what they have done.

One of the earliest victims of the digital disruption were the ways that we listen to music. Before streaming, music was expensive and consumers often had little control over what they listened to. Now, music is everywhere and people can access any song, any time.

This is great for consumers, but for the music industry, it posed a serious question: How does one compete in a competitive landscape where your primary product has become an easily-accessed, ubiquitous commodity?

Spotify’s answer: be about more than just music. When you sign up for Spotify you enter a global community of users expressing themselves through the music they love. Whether it’s sharing via social media, adding friends within the app, or integration into the world’s most popular dating apps, Spotify has made music streaming not just about listening, but about expressing yourself.

To survive the digital disruption and even thrive, a company has to be consumer-oriented and empower its users. Spotify does this in three different ways: It is a tool for fans of even the most niche genres to share their tastes in global communities. Second, Spotify facilitates conversations between artists and listeners to connect with music in more meaningful ways. And last, through integration into the world’s most popular social media apps, Spotify helps consumers to express themselves, whilst simultaneously generating huge amounts of earned media.

Letting the user define popular

Spotify’s ability to ride the digital disruption has largely hinged on how it has harnessed the rise of social media. Before smartphones, social media and streaming, music sharing between a group of friends relied on in-person interactions: Groups of friends would meet up to share and exchange mixtapes.

Spotify used the power of social media to transform your local group of friends into a global community around niche music tastes.  What we see now is a landscape where each social group is represented with artists from genres from Afrobashment to Danish rap, with Spotify encouraging and empowering users to express themselves and forge relationships based on music.

The digital disruption has allowed Spotify to take advantage in the rise of genres like Afrobeat.

Before the digital disruption, which songs made it to the top of the charts was decided by big label companies. Now, individual users define what’s popular by sharing their favorite songs. And as global access to social media and streaming services grows, world music is experiencing a boom.

As Spotify’s head of Global Cultures explains: “We have a new music-industry landscape which is much more diverse than it could have possibly been before.” The norm today is handing power over what’s popular to the consumer, allowing everyone to find the music that resonates with them.

Creating Conversations

Another part of Spotify’s strategy is to facilitate multidirectional conversations between users and artists. Spotify enables artists to directly interact with subscribers through Instagram and Facebook, and it also offers the option to follow your favorite artists. These features have spawned a rise in boutique labels representing artists not necessarily primed for the Billboard charts.

“Spotify empowers a new generation of musicians who prosper by making deep connections with more concentrated fan bases”

Spotify’s features make it possible for a new generation of musicians to prosper by making deep connections with more concentrated fan bases. The ability for artists to link listeners directly to Spotify from their Instagram and Facebook stories, Spotify’s social features such as adding friends and following artists, and Spotify’s integration into Messenger and iMessage allow users to find artists with whom they connect more deeply and build meaningful connections with friends and followers based on this.

Artists now rely on social media to form connections with their fans beyond music. With these followers actively seeking out their content, artists can move away from invasive advertisements to promote new music and instead drive users straight to their discography using stories.

Artists build intimate relationships with fans on social media to distribute music.

Your own business might not be about music, but you can apply the same principle: Stay away from the traditional focus of reach and mass marketing, and instead empower members of a certain tribe (often centered around a niche activity or taste) to share and connect with others in more meaningful ways. By taking this customer-oriented stance, your business can not only survive the digital disruption but even thrive.

Turning Customers Into Influencers

Spotify empowers users to express themselves through their integration with Instagram, Facebook Messenger and iMessage, Tinder and Bumble, and even the development of their own built-in social media functions.

Spotify has done all it can to make expressing yourself as easy as possible to create buzz and leverage its users across all social media platforms. A prime example of this is Spotify’s integration with Facebook and Instagram:

The digital disruption has made listening to music as much about interacting with your friends and followers as hearing your favorite songs. At the touch of a button, users can share songs, albums, or playlists to their Facebook and Instagram stories directly from within the app.

Spotify uses innovative features to use the digital disruption to its advantage.

Spotify thus shifts its entire value proposition from “these are the songs we offer”, to “here’s how we help you build and maintain social connections”. In every industry we see that users don’t want the ‘perfect’ product, they want the product that’s perfect for them – Spotify provides each user a totally personalized experience, allowing them to paint a totally customized picture of themselves to their friends and followers.

Integration into dating apps, as well as some of the in-app social features turns users from passive consumers into active ones. Users can send songs directly within the Spotify app, check out what others are listening to, and even work on collaborative playlists.

Expressing oneself isn’t something that should be fenced in, and Spotify knows that. They collaborate with Bumble and Tinder to provide users another way to express themselves. The ‘top songs and artists’ features on these dating apps further encourage users to build and grow relationships based on the music tastes they share. Spotify’s risqué integration into these apps is emblematic of its strategy to create conversations and empower users to express themselves through music.

Spotify uses the digital disruption to to generate mass earned media.

Beyond the user, these features help Spotify, too. Empowering users to share their experience creates earned media, consumer advocacy, and user-generated content. Another reason for why enabling conversations is key for surviving the digital transformation.

A prime example of this is the Spotify Wrapped campaign. At the end of each year, users are provided a detailed rundown of the songs, artists, and amount of music they listened. Spotify encourages users to share their stats on social media, and many do because it’s an expression of themselves. Spotify’s 2016 wrapped campaign received over 1500 pieces of news coverage, generated 1.2 billion earned impressions, and over 1 billion streams.

Sounds intriguing? View the explainer below with the statistics described at 1:37.

In essence, Spotify creates content tailored for consumers to share on their social media feeds. For your own business, you can ask yourself: Why do people use our service or buy our products? What value, beyond the functional value of our offerings, do we provide? Once you identified this (e.g., expressing yourself), you can come up with similar ideas of how you can leverage customer insights to create tailored content that your customers will want to share with their friends.

Survive the digital disruption by redefining your product

All this cross conversation between Spotify’s users and artists doesn’t just build an incredibly strong sense of community, it creates a platform for self-expression and a tool for creating connections. Spotify’s leveraging of social media, as we can see, is pivotal to its marketing efforts, essentially utilizing its multi-million subscriber base as micro-influencers. This is crucial in building advocates for the brand and building trust for those considering signing up for a subscription.

Spotify offers all you ever want from a music streaming service: An extensive catalog, affordable pricing, and hi-fi audio all. But more than just these basic table stakes, Spotify recognizes that expressing oneself lies at the core of the music listening experience. The ability to find one’s community, to engage in multidirectional conversations, and to express oneself through music even outside the Spotify app all create a service that goes beyond the music itself.

To survive the digital disruption, Spotify has taken a fully customer-oriented approach. And as we can see, it’s paying off.

This post was written by Archie Mitchell and Dr. Joachim Scholz. The authors thank Alexis Ardito and Maxwell Motley for their help in compiling research for this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

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Brand meaning comes alive with augmented reality Fri, 01 Jun 2018 13:06:24 +0000 The most powerful brands in the world have one thing in common — strong brand meaning. Nike encourages consumers to “just do it.” Disney...

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The most powerful brands in the world have one thing in common — strong brand meaning.

Nike encourages consumers to “just do it.” Disney inspires imagination. BMW brings you the “ultimate driving experience.” A simple tagline carries a vivid description of what the brand stands for.

But even companies like Nike and BMW struggle to truly bring those messages to life. With print and television advertisements, brand meaning can feel like a passive experience. Marketers struggle to bridge the gap between the brand meaning, the medium and the customer.

One emerging marketing technology can help solve that problem.

Visa takes consumers to the jungle

Visa utilized augmented reality (AR) to deliver their brand meaning in an engaging way. AR merges physical content with the digital world. This eliminates the space between a customer and a brand meaning. Visa used AR in its campaign, “Try Something New with Visa,” which expresses their brand meaning, “everywhere you want to be.”

The experience give consumers the opportunity to interact with digital animals, bringing their brand meaning to life through in augmented reality jungle.

See video of experience here . 


Global technology software company Lemon & Orange developed the project and installed the AR gear in four Polish malls. By triggering the AR experience, customers can consumers can interact with a variety of zoo animals.

Augmented reality is a great choice for Visa because it gives consumers the once in a lifetime chance to interact with the jungle on a normal shopping day. AR truly lets customers go “everywhere you want to be.”

AR creates an interactive brand meaning

Users reach out to pet digital panda bears during Visa’s augmented reality experience.

According to marketing experts Reis and Trout, the goal of brand meaning is to, “create a unique impression in the customer’s mind so that the customer associates something specific and desirable with your brand.”

Nike, Disney, BMW and Visa have mastered this concept. But Visa ups the game by using augmented reality.

The use of this new technology aligns with Visa as a brand. Visa is a global brand that inspires travel and new experiences for consumers. They want the consumer to engage in adventurous activities. Augmented reality gives the consumer the chance to experience these adventurous activities, something a television or print ad can not.

#AR eliminates the space between a customer and a brand meaning
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Therefore, augmented reality is a great choice, because it allows Visa to leverage its brand meaning. It gives consumers the chance to experience wild adventures without disrupting their daily routine.

Create an AR experience worth sharing

Users can share photos of the AR experience on social media.

For marketers, a great AR experience is only half the battle. To really take advantage of a good campaign, brands should engage customers beyond the glamor of its fancy AR exhibit.

Marketers should not only factor in participation of users, but also engage bystanders — folks who were not able to experience the AR content. Visa allowed mall-goers to share photos of their experience on social media. These photos are “artifacts” — evidence of a user’s participation in an AR campaign. Artifacts further develop user-­bystander engagement because they provide a sharable token of the experience. They allow bystanders observe the augmented reality experience regardless of their location.

Even those who were not at the mall could see how Visa gave consumers this wild opportunity and fully leveraged their brand meaning.

Keep your AR experience under control 

The setup of the entire augmented experience promotes Visa and its adventurous brand meaning.

Though building an AR experience in a public location can be great for engaging customers, there are risks. Marketers should focus on “neutralizing threats,” as described my past research on AR . In Visa’s case, it’s easy to disrupt the company’s augmented reality experience because the area is not closed off within the mall.

Visa did not give themselves complete control of how outside forces could affect the scene. As a result, shoppers could walk in front of the screen disrupting the entire experience. Or, a competitor could place an advertisement in the targeted zone.

By neutralizing these threats, Visa would have truly put the consumer’s wants first and avoided the risk of interruptions.

AR brings your brand meaning to life

Brands need to align their marketing strategies with technologies that best leverage their brand meanings. Visa’s campaign would not have been as impactful if they had chosen to use traditional media. They needed a truly immersive experience to align with Visa’s brand meaning — “Everywhere you want to be.” It places customers in an outrageous and unexpected experience. This helps that brand meaning resonate more than a different medium would.

Augmented reality was a great addition to Visa’s marketing mix. Its campaign is a role model for brands searching for an innovative digital strategy.

If you liked this article, please share this post with other marketing professionals. To learn more about the opportunities and trends in augmented reality, subscribe to for upcoming articles on the latest and greatest AR campaigns.

The author thanks Lindsey Elliott and Kelsey Payton for their contributions to an earlier version of this post.

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