10 marketing lessons that you can learn from the big brands
What do these brands have in common?
They are worth billions.
That, you surely know it. I do not teach you anything!
More seriously, the common point between these three brands is that they were created in a garage.
People tend to forget it. They are from scratch, like you and me.
Look at Apple’s first office
Or the garage of the founders of Google.
It’s incredible when you think about it because today these companies are worth billions of dollars.
Their founders are not geniuses so far.
They still managed to hoist their businesses among the most powerful in the world.
Is it because their product was better than the others?
Unfortunately, having the right product is not enough.
Take McDonald’s, their hamburgers are not good, and yet everyone has eaten at least one.
You can have the best product in the world; if you can not make it known, you’ll have a great product that nobody knows.
That’s why you need to learn how to market your product. In other words, you must master marketing.
I think big brands like Apple, Google, Coca-Cola or any other big brand you’re thinking about now have a lot to teach you in terms of marketing.
A few years ago, I realized that to succeed in a particular field; you do not just have to work hard. We must also learn from people who have already achieved what we want to do. And then, apply what they have implemented on our projects.
Marketing is no exception to the rule.
It’s mostly through observation and analysis that I’ve learned about marketing.
I read a lot; it’s true, but I also did a lot of observation and analysis to develop a marketer’s spirit.
If you want to succeed and make known your business, you must learn from these great brands that were, like you and me, unknown in their infancy.
That’s precisely what you’ll learn today: 10 marketing lessons that big brands can teach entrepreneurs.
1) Adopt a minimalist marketing
I know a company that adopts minimalist marketing.
You know her very well too.
Apple is one of my favourite brands.
Not just because these products are lovely. This is one of the elements on which Apple stands out: the breathtaking design of its products.
What I like about Apple is the simplicity of their products.
You can learn to use an iPhone properly in less than 15 minutes.
Which is not the case with a Samsung, for example.
It turns out that Apple also adopts simplicity (or minimalism) in its marketing.
Go to the Apple website. You will see.
The Apple website is ergonomic and comfortable to use.
Apple has a lot to tell you.
On their homepage, they decided to show you the very latest iPhone 11, above the waterline. That’s because the iPhone is Apple’s flagship product. It is the most sold.
It is, therefore, reasonable to put forward the brand new iPhone 11.
In the navigation bar, you will find Apple’s product line: Macs, iPods, iPhones, Watches, etc.
They also put a link to customer service. They know that you are likely to go to their website for help.
And if you come to buy a product, all you have to do is click on the product that interests you.
Then you will see all the models.
This is the page I’m coming to if I click on iPhone.
Apple also shows you the new iPhone with the text “New” in orange on a white background. Apple likes the word “new”.
This is not a coincidence because we like novelty too. Generally, we prefer to listen to music that was released a month ago than a tune of 10 years ago.
The new iPhone is placed in the upper left corner, at the top. It’s because we read from left to right starting from the top.
If you have observed these two pages, you should also have noticed that these two pages contain a lot of white space with broad headings of a few words.
Apple uses strong words in its titles.
I’m not going to give you an analysis of the Apple website, but you have the idea. Their website is straightforward, and this is reflected through:
- The extremely minimal navigation bar.
- The dominant colours (white and black).
- White spaces (to avoid cluttering your mind).
- The words used.
I insist on this last point.
Apple speaks the simple language and uses words that convey emotions.
I remind you that Apple does not target IT pros and therefore adapts its message accordingly.
This is why Apple does not communicate much about the technical characteristics of its products in its commercials or on its website.
On the contrary, the brand focuses on the benefits of its products to the user. And they use emotions in their descriptions and breathtaking images to show you the remarkable impact of their products on your lives.
Apple uses words that we employ in everyday life. There is little jargon in product descriptions. A 5-year-old could understand.
So if you want to do like Apple, adopt minimalist marketing:
- In your products.
- On your website. Keep simple navigation (more than seven elements is already a lot) and use only a few colours. In my case, I use white as background colour, black for text and titles, light blue for links, and orange for calls to action.
- Focus on the benefits of your products, not the features.
- Use emotions as much as possible in the descriptions of your products.
- When you release a new product, put it well ahead!
- Speak the language of your ideal client.
2) Produce content
Content marketing was viral in 2017 and again for the coming years.
It’s simple. The more you publish web content (articles, videos, podcasts, social media posts, etc.), the more you’ll be visible on the Internet and for your target market.
Gary Vaynerchuk is one of my favourite examples when it comes to content marketing.
It produces content every day, every hour and on ALL social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, Medium, etc.)
He is everywhere.
It is mostly regular. He has been publishing new content every day for years. In a few years, he has managed to wriggle as an expert on entrepreneurship and social networks.
He owes all this to his incredible effort to produce content all over the web.
Look on Facebook.
More than 3 million fans on Facebook (again, he talks about entrepreneurship, no cute cats).
He is also incredibly active on Instagram, the social network of the moment:
How does it produce so much content?
He documents all his life.
Everything he does, he films it, he tells it on his blog or through Stories.
If he speaks in a conference, he records it.
He also writes books like Jab Jab Right Hook.
It’s like that every day, all year long. And it pays.
Just look at the number of people who follow him on social networks.
He also has a big team in charge of producing his content.
In short, if you want to learn content marketing and use social networks, follow it. Listen to his videos. Read these books. That’s how I learned.
How to replicate Gary Vaynerchuk’s success?
You do not need ten people to manage your content. You can do it alone. Here’s how to do it:
- Produce content every day or almost. It’s hard to keep such regularity, but the results will be seen in the long run.
- Vary your contents. Write a few lines, post pictures or videos, share your thoughts of the day, etc.
- Concentrate on one or two platforms. Gary is present on all social networks. Do not do like him. I recommend Facebook to start and a second platform based on your audience (e.g. YouTube, Instagram or even Pinterest).
- Keep a friendly tone and interact with your audience. Gary Vaynerchuk is very close to his audience.
- Make a video (video is the future of content marketing). Gary produces videos most often.
- Be patient and respectful of your audience. It takes years to build an audience and gain the trust of others.
3) Tell a story
All major brands and products tell a story.
The storytelling is a fundamental of modern marketing.
Your product or brand must tell a story.
What is storytelling?
It’s a promise to people who buy your products. You can promise your customers that they will be more beautiful, more relaxed, kinder, more generous thanks to your products. It’s for you to see!
Then, this promise is reflected in a story that conveys both values and emotions.
That’s what Coca-Cola does.
Everyone knows that Coca-Cola is not suitable for you because of the sugar it contains.
Yet everyone drinks.
Because Coca-Cola has managed to associate its drink with fundamental values: sharing, family, friendship and even Christmas!
And they did it by telling stories.
For example, what Coca-Cola shows you in its ads is the joy you feel when sharing a Coke with your friends or family.
Think back to their ” Share a Coke With … ” marketing campaign.
This campaign marked the spirits.
First of all, because it reinforced the spirit of Coca-Cola: sharing.
And then because the bottles were personalized. There was even your name on Coca-Cola bottles.
Coca-Cola is not the only brand to use storytelling for marketing its products.
TOMS does it very well too.
You probably know TOMS and its now-famous slogan: One for One.
Storytelling is the foundation of TOMS success.
TOMS sells shoes. Rather banal when you think about it.
How can a pair of shoes tell a story and arouse emotions?
It’s possible. TOMS did it.
For each pair of shoes purchased, TOMS donates a new pair of shoes to a child in need.
These may not be the most “beautiful” or “cool” shoes, but the story behind it and the emotions it brings have allowed TOMS to achieve the success it has today.
I think the message (or story) behind it is that when you buy a pair of TOMS shoes, you become a generous person at the same time.
You show your loved ones that you are a generous person.
That’s what TOMS promises you when you buy a pair of TOMS shoes
4) Develop a community
Most of us love this sense of belonging to a community.
It’s so much better to belong to a group where we share the same passion and values.
Let me tell you something.
When you buy a product, you do not just buy it for what it will bring you back into your life.
You buy products too, and especially because they allow you to communicate your values and strengthen your sense of belonging to a particular group or style.
This is the case for clothing. We buy a lot of clothes that we do not necessarily need.
When you buy an iPhone or a MacBook, you buy it because it’s beautiful, because it makes us calm and even because most of our friends have one.
Apple is a tribe of cool people at the forefront of technology.
Do you see what I mean?
For Apple, this tribe has created itself by the biggest fans of Apple.
On the other hand, some brands make a significant effort to build a community around their products.
The first example that comes to my mind is Fitbit (which I will be acquiring very soon?).
Fitbit sells watches that track everything about your physical activity: your heart rate, the number of steps per day, calories burned, etc.
This brand is for people who want to keep fit.
If you visit their website, you will also see that they are mainly aimed at a young audience (male or female) who wants to keep fit and stay calm.
I will show you one of their watches that I would like to buy. Watch the video presentation.
Looking at the video, I see that Fitbit puts forward several things.
First, the fact that this watch allows me to keep fit, track my physical activity and challenge me to move more.
It also allows me to stay calm under all circumstances thanks to the interchangeable bracelets (if I pay more).
You understand that Fitbit does not sell watches, but more than that: a community of people who want to keep fit and stay calm.
This is reflected on the page of their website Why Fitbit?
This community is not only highlighted on the Fitbit website. It also has an essential place in the application on the smartphone:
Seth Godin has written a book about the new communities that are forming on the Internet; it’s worth seeing.
Here is the book. Tribes: We need YOU to lead us.
The book reads quickly enough.
5) Launch a hashtags campaign
Hashtags have become popular with Twitter. Then Facebook copied them, but without success. And finally, Instagram has revolutionized its use.
Hashtags are powerful to increase your brand awareness.
Also, they allow us to take advantage of the leverage of the use of hashtags by a large number of people: virality.
So how are big brands using hashtags?
There is Starbucks, who is active on social networks.
When Starbucks launches a new product, they like to take advantage of its incredible number of followers to campaign with hashtags and build brand awareness for a brand new product.
They first create a branded hashtag for the product and post photos of the new product on social media with this hashtag.
On Facebook :
You see two hashtags:
These are acronyms for “PumpkinSpiceLatte”. A new coffee.
Finally, they encourage their consumers and influencers to take pictures with the new Starbucks café and share the photo on social media by inserting the hashtag.
The hashtags are effective to launch a product and create awareness for it thanks to the virality they trigger.
Also, people love to take the game to share a picture of themselves with your product on social networks.
So, enjoy it.
Hashtags are not just about advertising a product.
They can also be used to make a contest or for more ” evergreen ” marketing campaigns (e.g. generating user-generated content (UGC).
I come to the next point.
6) Encourage User-Generated Content (UGC)
Hashtags can also be used for more recurring marketing campaigns, such as user-generated content (UGC).
Here too, you create a hashtag related to your brand, and you encourage your customers to post photos with this hashtag.
The difference here is that you republish the content generated by your users on your account.
It’s essential to use the UGC right now because it’s one of the most credible forms of content for your brand.
Understand by this that your fans will have more confidence in this content than another because it was published at the base by one of your customers.
EF uses the CGU with the hashtag #EFMoment.
EF has posted on his Instagram account a photo published by one of his students.
In concrete terms, they had nothing else to do.
The UGC makes it possible to engage your community and your existing customers, which reinforces their attachment to your brand.
On your side, this makes you free and native advertising on social networks.
Go Pro also republishes on his Instagram account spectacular videos that his users have filmed with their camera GoPro tagged hashtag #GoProFamily.
All you need to do to succeed your CGU campaign is to create your hashtag, encourage your users to tag their posts with this hashtag and finally republish on your social accounts this CGU.
Do not forget to tag the person when you republish.
7) Get help from influencers
Do you know Beats By Dre?
You must have heard of it.
You know, headphones that we see everywhere on the heads of stars.
Beats By Dre did not make the buzz because the sound of their headphones was better than the others or because they were more beautiful.
They especially made the buzz by using the popularity of other people: stars or famous personalities.
For example, NBA basketball players like Lebron James or James Harden.
They could be seen everywhere with a Beats helmet: practising in the street and commercials.
They have also used known influencers like Kylie Jenner.
So yes, I know you do not have the budget of Beats by Dre to engage stars to promote your products.
What I’m trying to tell you is that you have a lot to gain from using the popularity of other people or groups to make you known.
If you have an e-commerce, you can, for example, contact influencers or micro-influencers on Instagram (less than 50,000 followers) and offer them a paying partnership to promote your products to their audience.
Gymshark, a brand of fitness clothing still unknown a few years ago, was mainly known thanks to Instagram’s influencers.
They have created a lot of partnerships with big influencers to promote their clothes.
Some influencers are true ambassadors of GymShark and exclusively promote them.
The reason why influencer marketing works so well is that people like to buy products that people want or admire, like influencers.
In recent months, influencers have gained weight in marketing.
They are closer to their audience than the stars, so a consumer will have more confidence when an influencer promotes a product than when stars like Lebron James or Kylie Jenner.
It seems more natural, more authentic. As a result, brands benefit.
EF also does influence marketing by inviting Youtubeurs like Tibo Inshape to create a language trip to the USA, all expenses paid.
Our Youtube is then taken in front of the Hollywood sign and shares the picture on Instagram to its hundreds of thousands of followers, with the hashtag that goes with, of course!
Note also that the people who follow Tibo Inshape are mostly young. These are the people ÉF wants to aim for their language holidays (between 16 and 23 years old).
It is, therefore, a strategic choice to call on Tibo Inshape.
Lovely marketing shot anyway!
I think that influencers are an opportunity if you manage e-commerce, ROIs (return on investment) can be much more important than a Facebook advertising campaign, for example.
Be careful though to choose the right influencers, who have a reasonable engagement rate on their publications AND especially whose audience matches your target.
Remember: People trust their peers, much more than advertising.
8) Make a contest
Ah, contests on social networks.
Who has never tried to participate in one of these contests to try to win a prize?
Brands like Nutella regularly make contests on their Facebook page.
Not to make money.
But mainly to gain notoriety, reach new people on social networks and engage their existing community.
You can also start a contest in partnership with an influencer on Instagram if you want to reach a different audience than the one you already have.
That’s what Garnier does.
Here too, the goal should be to increase their brand awareness.
The two most recommended social networks for contests are Facebook and Instagram.
Do not think you can not compete for your business. Anyone can launch one by being creative.
You do not need to have a brand of clothing or cosmetics to make contests.
Look what Cedric Annicette, a French web entrepreneur, is doing.
A contest to win a place at its best-selling QLRR seminar! He uses this flagship event to get new fans on his Instagram account. It seems he is targeting women.
So, how to succeed in your contest?
- Choose a platform (Facebook? Instagram?)
- Choose a price that is attractive enough for your target audience (usually it’s better if it’s one of your products; it can even be coaching if you’re a service company).
- Define rules Best to ask your followers 2 Share: Subscribe to your page or tag AND one or more friends to comment or share the publication (asking to identify your brand or a hashtag branded ).
- Select a winner (randomly).
There are web tools like Social Shaker, to launch your contests.
9) Offer a promo code
You like promotions.
A brand that has particularly benefited from the attraction of promotions to acquire new customers and increase their loyalty is Zalando.
Zalando starts by attracting you in his universe by offering you a discount of 10% against the subscription to his newsletter.
Then you make your first purchases.
You enter your details, and Zalando sends you your clothes at home.
A few weeks later, Zalando will also send you a new promo code after your first purchase.
This is a way to get you back on their site to make a second purchase.
Zalando also takes advantage of sales or seasons to offer promo codes.
For example, at the end of this summer’s sales, Zalando was offering 20% off some already sold items. I know it because I benefited!
But yes, it’s autumn! It’s worth a promotion and not least: up to -50%.
From what I have noticed, it seems that the more you buy on Zalando, the more you will receive promo code by mail. This allows you to become even more loyal.
Remember, it is easier to sell to someone who has already given you your money than to a stranger.
Zalando has also developed offering many advantages such as:
- Payment by invoice (no need for a credit card).
- Free delivery.
- Free return on 100 days.
Here’s how you can get inspired by what Zalando does if you have an e-commerce store:
- Offer a promo code to each new visitor.
- Send promo codes to your regular buyers.
- Enjoy the holidays, sales and the release of a new collection to offer promo codes.
10) Be creative in your marketing
Marketing is always appealing to your creativity.
I hear a lot of carpet merchants telling you that you only need to advertise Facebook to launch the “traffic machine”.
Honestly, to succeed, you need more than that.
You can not just advertise on Facebook and think it’s going to work.
Sometimes you have to do things differently, which none of your competitors has ever done.
You have to think outside the box and use your creativity to do something special or unique.
I will give you as an example EF (Education First).
Since I did an EF language course three years ago, I received tons of emails and letters by mail from them.
I even got a card for Christmas.
They also sent me promotions for other family members and me (filling in one of their forms, asking me if I had siblings).
Once they did something incredibly creative.
I loved this letter so much that I kept it.
Let me share it.
I’ll let you read it.
It’s a beautiful context. On the one hand, it makes you smile, and on the other hand, this letter reminds me of the moments that I lived through EF. So it appeals to my emotions.
If I were a few years younger, maybe I would have thought of a new stay.
Marketing is not just about advertising Facebook or promotions.
That’s also it: use your creativity to do something unique in terms of marketing. Your customers will remember you for that.
As I said at the beginning of this article.
Success leaves its traces. Be inspired by those who have succeeded in what you want to accomplish and replicate their strategies in your business or on your own.
The purpose of this article was really to show you that you can learn marketing by merely observing what successful brands do daily.
The best learning begins with observation and then analysis and finally, implementation.
That’s my philosophy anyway, and that’s how I always learn more about marketing.
I took a lot of time writing this article, so if you liked it or if you think it can help a contractor you know, share it. It lets me know if you want this kind of content.