Marketing becomes media

By June 26, 2012 9 Comments

Somebody recently described Red Bull to me as a media company that happens to sell beverages. I think we will soon be able to say something similar about many of the world’s most successful consumer brands.

For those that don’t know, Red Bull has grown from next to nothing to a global force over the last twenty years in energy drinks –  a category they pretty much created. Their success came partly because they have a great product, millions of people LOVE Red Bull, but partly because they have built their brand with a series of innovative events and amusing adverts. Their flagship FlugTag events around the UK are fun and memorable, as are their ‘Red Bull gives you wings‘ ad campaigns.

Turning to fashion, two British of the more successful British startups over the last five years, Net-a-Porter and ASOS, have built their businesses by blending content with commerce – i.e. a mixed media and retail business model where media offsets traditional marketing spend. ASOS in particular stands out as having achieved significant success (£1.3bn market cap, TTM revenues and pre-tax £495m and 330m) on minimal marketing spend.

Just about every other brand is now headed in the same direction, catalysed by their move into social media. As they seek to engage customers in places where they are hanging out to be entertained rather than transact they are having to balance their sales oriented communications with content that is interesting in its own right, i.e. they are having to become media companies. To get specific, social media marketeers are now offering the following sort of advice:

  •  don’t ask, “How can we convert fans into sales?”—instead ask, “How can I provide value to my fans?”.  Then, and only then, will fans actually consider making a purchase as a result of your social marketing efforts.
  • —for every 5 posts you make, only ONE post (20%) should be DIRECTLY about your brand/product (i.e. “Buy our product”, “Visit our website”, etc).  The other four posts (80%) should be RELEVENT to your audience and provide VALUE in some form—informational, funny, interesting, etc.—but they should NOT be directly about YOU
  • Find 10 blogs (do a simple Google search i.e. “popular food blogs”) relevant to your audience.  Subscribe via RSS and share the most interesting / entertaining posts with your fans
  •  you’ll need to differentiate between the ones that perform well and those that perform poorly on your Page.  There are many ways you can do this, but I’d recommend simply running the numbers in a spreadsheet

The advice in these bullets could easily have been directed at a newspaper journalist. Although maybe not at a quality paper 🙂