Written for Wakefly.com in April 2010
Who said online marketing had to follow a formula and be dull and boring? Online Marketing or inbound marketing as many like to call it offers far more potential than traditional marketing did. It lets businesses explore techniques and implement strategies that were not possible before. It has enabled sinking businesses to get back on track and it has turned start ups into multi-billion dollar companies. The key is knowing your audience and delivering to their expectations. If it’s online it has to be interactive, it should focus on inclusion and participation and it has to be transparent. The key to successful online marketing is to create brand recognition by reaching out to the masses.
Brands like Google, Starbucks, Kodak etc. use online marketing effectively and have created strong brand recognition and brand love for their companies. The reason they are all successful in the online sphere is that they are not scared of experimenting and doing something different. The businesses themselves may be very serious but their online marketing tactics are very lighthearted, often humorous and human. These brands use every opportunity to successfully market their brand. They make use of all available online channels and promote in an exciting way. They are so invested in online marketing that they even use April Fools day to their advantage.
Google has always been “very serious” about seriously marketing on April Fools day. Each year they come up with a new prank or idea and have a hidden marketing message in it. For instance, this year Google decided to change its company name to Topeka for the day. Where this trick is amusing and has created a huge following online, it also serves a dual purpose. Through Topeka, Google is trying to promote its broadband fiber network – project 1100 cities. Currently, Topeka is the most popular news online. It is also being accessed by millions of searchers who search on Google.com. Through Topeka, Google is making the world aware of its 1100 cities network project and they deliver the message in a very light-hearted way – in a manner that is mostly likely to stay in the hearts and minds of people for long. Now this is called effective online marketing.
Starbucks employs similar tactics and makes the most of April Fools day. They have put up an online campaign showing that ‘Starbucks listens to its customers’. This campaign introduces two (fake) beverage sizes for customers in the U.S. and Canada. Where this campaign is humorous and takes a pun at serving sizes in the U.S. and Canada, it also projects Starbucks as a brand that ‘listens to’ and ‘cares about’ its customers. Again, this is a subtle message hidden in a humorous campaign and makes the most of the given occasion.
Kodak is another brand that has successfully used online marketing to reposition itself as an industry leader. With the introduction of digital cameras Kodak lost a great deal of its market share but marketing folks at Kodak decided to turn this misfortune around. They adopted online marketing techniques and marketed their brand successfully, resulting in record profit for Kodak last year. Like Google and Starbucks, Kodak has made the most of April Fools Day too.
They have introduced a campaign called ‘Kodak Aromatography, an unbelievable sensory experience’ – basically giving customers the ability to print pictures that have a smell. This campaign introduces a new innovative technology by Kodak called ‘Neuro-Optic-Nasal-Sense Imaging’ – a technique that lets you print a picture with its unique smell. Like the other two campaigns this campaign uses April Fools Day to its advantage. It projects the message that Kodak is always innovating and coming up with new ideas and products. It shows that they are always willing to go that extra mile to offer technologies that might not otherwise seem possible.
The three case studies above show the importance of making the most of online channels to market your brand. They also show how through good content one can reach out to millions of people online. It also helps you turn your corporate blog into an interactive platform. It is very important for businesses to focus their strategies to create online campaigns that strengthen the brand image without alienating their target audience.
Special occasions, holidays, events and celebrations are a great time to create effective campaigns that people can relate to. These campaigns can help strengthen your brand image and positioning in the market.