Marketers Everywhere: Stop Marketing Your Brand

November 12th, 2014

On Monday, I published a post using a Huggies case study to show the value of real an authentic storytelling to drive engagement with a brand. If you missed it, catch up real quick and read it here.

The key takeaway from this example of great outreach marketing is that no matter who you’re marketing to, it’s crucial to always remind yourself that you are simply a human marketing to another human. The most effective way to do this is to market an authentic experience—not your brand.

Self-serving content, billboard style tweets and “hey look at how cool my brand is” Facebook posts do not market an experience that can connect with consumers.

Through blogger outreach, a solid influencer marketing strategy, a network of brand advocates and a constant pulse on authenticity—marketers can foster a real brand experiences with real people.

The first step? Start thinking of yourself as a person who markets an experience by collecting moments of brand interaction from third party sources and fostering real relationships.

Are Your Fostering An Engaged Network?

The single most important thing marketers need to do right now is to engage their brand’s network.

Your brand is a product of what others say—not what your brand says about itself. While you can’t control the exact words that get spewed in to the digital playground about you, you can control the experience that people have.

Not only do you have control over an influencer’s experience with your brand but you also have control over whether or not they are equipped with good content, stories, messages, images, etc. to share pertaining to your brand.

Making the most of the network around your brand consists of two parts:

  1. Having a plan to work with current brand fans and consumers
  2. Having a plan to locate new influencers who are a great fit with your brand and who you can mold in to advocates

Work With Current Network for Valuable Coverage

Luckily, there are some implementations that you can make right away that foster a more engaged network who can heighten coverage on positive experiences with your brand.

When you have a system in place that communicates regularly with your current brand fans, you can stay on their brain, equip them with stories to share, and make them feel like they are part of your brand. When a consumer feels like they have an active voice, they take ownership of the brand—and talk about it.

Here are some ideas to increase engagement with your current network:

  • Set up a once a month newsletter or communication process where you connect with your network regularly. Email them new and exclusive brand information, give them free items from your brand that are a fit with their everyday lives and sharable content.
  • Via email outreach and surveys, ask your network for their input. This can help you make positive brand changes and make your consumers feel like they actually have a voice.
  • Foster a brand experience mention as opposed to a brand mention. Find a way to help them weave your brand in to their everyday lives so that they can tell an entire story on how your brand helps them or adds some pizazz to their lives. This extra element in the story makes for a much more interesting post.
  • Thank and incentivize them for sharing their experience with your brand. Good manners keep the mentions coming!

Make Sure You are Opt-in Friendly

You don’t want to come off as one of those exclusive brands who builds influencer networks selectively.

Sounds simple, but having a way for fans to choose to opt-in to your network goes a long way. From having a web form on your site for bloggers to sign up to be part of your blogger outreach initiatives to a tweet that invites consumers to opt-in to your brands network—you can tap into a giant network of advocates who want to be there and are the easiest segment of influencers to equip to go share brand stories.

Having an opt-in network is also a super simple way to collect a brand fan’s entire digital footprint so you can determine how to most effectively work with them. Don’t forget to ask for their social and blog URLs when they’re signing up!

Find New Influencers

Once you have a pulse on your current network and have an easy way for fans of your brand to opt in to your awesome network, it’s time to strategize a way to always be on the lookout for new influencers.

This part of the process is about finding people who are a perfect fit contextually with your brand but they just don’t know how awesome you are yet.

Once you’ve identified the people who are the right fit to usher in to your brand’s network, you need to introduce your brand to them and find a way to provide them with a way to experience your brand to make sure there is an authentic fit. Examples include sending them free products, inviting them to an influencer event, or giving them free access to a service you provide.

If you take nothing else away from the post but one thing—I hope it’s that a focus on human to human connections can make all of the marketing difference in the world.

Can you tell me one tactic that you use to acquire a brand experience as opposed to a brand mention? Great topic of conversation for the comments section!

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