As consumers become more and more sophisticated, us marketers are forced to find new ways to keep up. But despite the need for innovative approaches, it’s worth hitting pause on ‘reinventing the wheel’ and instead, studying the marketing strategies of successful business leaders and entrepreneurs. In this article, we’ll look at the effective marketing strategies of business leaders and entrepreneurs and draw out some lessons to take marketing to the next level.
Madam CJ Walker: Find An Underserved Market
Before niche marketing and targeting became a thing, Madam C.J. Walker targeted African-American women overlooked by mainstream American beauty companies. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Walker used her own image in advertisements and placed ads in black-owned newspapers to reach her target audience. This led her to become America’s first self-made female millionaire.
Lesson: In a world where consumers want hyper-personalization, Walker’s success shows brands how to meet the needs of consumers on a granular level. Use micro-segmentation to understand your customers’ interests, behaviors, and preferences, and identify those high-value, underserved customers. If you don’t have enough data for micro-segmentation, consider enhancing your data set with third party data.
Richard Branson: Put Yourself On The Frontline
One of Virgin Group’s most effective marketing tactics positions Richard Branson as a visible part of the Virgin brand. From wearing a wedding dress to launch Virgin Brides to dressing as a butterfly for the Virgin London Marathon, Branson has consistently served as the face and voice of Virgin’s outlandish marketing. Virgin Group’s use of Branson in its advertising shows the brand’s personality, helps create an emotional bond with consumers, and makes the company stand out from the competition.
Lesson: With trust in brands on the decline, consider using your founder or CEO in your advertising to connect with consumers and communicate your brand’s mission. When adopting this approach, ensure your CEO comes off as genuine, delivers trust-inspiring messages that get consumer’s attention, and has some personality and charisma. To determine if using your CEO is a fitting strategy for your brand, test your ads.
Elon Musk: Ask for Feedback and Implement It
From tweets about his futuristic ideas on hyperloop transportation to plans of colonizing Mars, the CEO of Tesla has mastered the art of using social media to engage his audience and get feedback from them. To find out how he could improve Tesla, Musk simply asked Twitter followers, “how can we improve further?” and responded to complaints and suggestions:
Lesson: Asking for feedback from customers and implementing their suggestions can help you build trust and show customers that they matter to your business. When using social media to ask for feedback, make use of interactive formats such as polls and use social media listening tools to monitor your mentions, responding to comments in real time. Give your social media team access to information and tools to resolve complaints quickly.
Phil Knight: Use Controversy To Cut Through The Clutter
In a noisy world, controversy under the right circumstances may help you cut through the clutter. No strangers to controversy, Nike’s ads have consistently captured consumers’ attention by taking a stance on controversial issues. In 1995, Nike featured an HIV-positive long-distance runner named Ric Munzom in a “Just Do It” campaign. Though Nike received complaints for daring to talk about HIV publicly during a time when HIV was stigmatized, the company also received accolades for embracing diversity and promoting inclusiveness.
Lesson: Done correctly, a controversial marketing campaign can get people to talk about your brand; the ad will pay for itself. Use knowledge about your audience to choose the right topic of conversation that’ll keep customers talking. Just be sure the campaign connects to your brand, and have a good crisis management plan at the ready in case you receive negative publicity.
Ray Kroc: Commit To Quality
Rather than focusing on single sales, former McDonald’s owner Ray Kroc created a high-quality product that would earn McDonald’s customers for life. Kroc insisted that all McDonald’s franchises maintain equal quality by establishing standardized operations, including portion sizes, food preparation, packaging, and ingredients. This strategy ensured that franchises served high-quality food at low cost in a way that enhanced the brand’s overall perception. As a result, McDonald’s gained a worldwide following and is currently ranked as the most valuable food brand in the world.
Lesson: Providing a quality product or service increases customer retention and satisfaction. Combine high quality products with reasonable prices, fast service, and a reliable experience and you won’t have to struggle much to win the hearts of your customers.
Kylie Jenner: Scarcity Drives Demand
Despite the saturation in the cosmetics industry, Kylie Jenner managed to leverage her social media followers and build a $900 million cosmetics empire. While some measure of this success came from her celebrity status, Kylie also employs shrewd tactics like scarcity marketing to drive sales. Before a product launch, Kylie gives her social media followers sneak peeks of the product and hypes its limited status. This ‘drop’ creates a sense of scarcity among her fans, and her products have been known to sell out within minutes. In November 2016, her holiday collection made nearly $19 million in just 24 hours.
Lesson: Scarcity creates the perception of a highly valuable product and encourages swift action. Nail this strategy by advertising your product’s limited availability before you launch it. Include a countdown timer on your website to create urgency, use terms like ‘limited time only’ and ‘while supply lasts’ in your copy, monitor your stock levels in real time, and let consumers know as soon as you’re out of stock.
Oprah Winfrey: Build Trust
From a marketing perspective, Oprah is a case study on how building trust with your audience drives sales. By being genuine, approachable, and transparent on The Oprah Winfrey Show, O, and the rest of her brands, Winfrey has established trust with her audience and earned the ability to influence their purchase decisions for nearly any product. In 2007, a reading light for books called the LightWedge saw its sales soar from $3,700 a day to $90,000 when Oprah added it to her favorite list segment in 2007.
Lesson: Consumers buy from brands and people they trust. Make your brand relatable by using real people in your marketing, delivering a consistent message, and taking consumers behind the scenes of your business. For those times that mistakes are made and customers let down, offer a genuine apology and acknowledge your mistakes to regain their trust.
Don’t Be Afraid To Try New Things
If there are some marketing strategies in this list you think will deliver results for your brand, don’t be afraid to experiment. Fail fast. Learn what works and keep testing. Marketing is about creating relationships, so deliver tailored communications, constantly exceed customer expectations, and harness emerging technologies such as automation, bots, and voice to perfect your customer service.