It’s 2020. You’ve got big plans for making key hires, expanding retail sales, and doubling-down on conversions on your site. You’ve probably also got a fairly robust marketing strategy: hopefully you’ve considered some events, demos, influencer marketing, and you’re not losing steam in your social media, email, and content marketing channels (after all, as a B2C company, you’re spending nearly 10% of your revenue on marketing efforts). Yup, there’s a lot going on. But let me offer a simplicity in your marketing strategy that you can use as your beacon throughout 2020: our outlook on consumer brand marketing is that it’s all about the story. Read on to learn more about how marketing trends and tools in 2020 have placed increased importance on your brand story.
It’s true: your customers want to know you. And they know when you’re faking it. So listen to what your customers like about your brand and your products, and ensure your brand story reflects that (you can even leverage some of their written content and photography to help tell your story, and in doing so develop stronger relationships with your customers, especially Gen Z). Beyond that, dig deeper on your social mission, giving back ethos, founder story, and world-changing aspirations that are part of your brand, and bring those storylines to the forefront of your marketing strategy. You’ll become more authentic and congruent with your ‘why’ as a brand (just be sure you deliver), and that’s exactly what your customers in 2020 want. They want to know your products and your brand stand for something, and it’s something that is changing the world.
It’s all about keeping it consistent and as simple as possible.
Your customers are inundated with choice, and it’s hard to cut through the noise. So be sure your brand story communication is clean, endlessly stable, and that you live up to that story every single day.
For example, Pipcorn makes it really simple: the word heirloom is written all of their site, their products, their background story. They’ve got an entire section of their website highlighting why you should care about heirloom. The reason they came into existence had to do with heirloom seeds, and when they were ready to launch new skus it came back to heirloom. Their social channels are consistently showcasing their product in the field (including video!). Their blog explains more about the why of heirloom. In addition, they consistently state they are a family-owned, minority-owned, female-owned business. It’s easy to read that and see that (again, a quick vid!) in their brand communication. As a Pipcorn customer, I can easily understand what their products and their brand is all about because both the visual and copy of their brand story is consistent, clean, and congruent.
Video continues to be important as a strong marketing tool for consumer brands, not only because it conveys a lot more than a static photo, but because video is where your customers are. Your customers continue to have better devices and connections (and you continue to have better video tools without breaking the bank!); with that ability, consumers are attracted to the brands that are producing great video content and eager to see more from the brands that are not. What’s exciting for you? “Marketers feel more positive about the return on investment offered by video than ever, as it continues to strongly influence traffic, leads, sales, and audience understanding” (Hubspot State of Video Marketing in 2020, data from Wyzowl).
Stay in line with your story.
For example, Banza chooses high-energy, bold colors in their videos with mostly overhead shots that maintain the recent trends towards aspirational #kitchengoals, and stays consistent with their bold, clean messaging and simple approach to dinnertime. When you buy Banza, you’re not buying chickpea pasta. You’re buying a clean, easy, simple, tasty dinner time with little hassle and happy faces and bellies. For them, what’s great about recipe videos is that the videos are also included on their website’s recipe section, with the actual recipe (and of course, the ability to buy more pasta!).
They also level-up by crafting partnership videos (like this one with Stasher), leveraging the power of the shared audience, but without diminishing the power of their story (hey! Stasher actually makes it even easier to get dinner on the table because it keeps things fresh and portioned!).
Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn continue to be the most powerful channels for your videos.
But go where your customers are. If you’ve got a large and engaged Instagram following, and that channel is working for you, post your videos there. If you have no idea where your customers are, it’s time to post your video to several channels consistently and see where they take hold. If you can create videos that also pull double-duty on your site, or in partnership with another brand, even better! We’re also hearing murmurings of the power of TikTok and Snapchat for video content, but the verdict is still out on whether those channels are worth your time right now as a brand.
Are you tired of reading about influencers yet? Yeah, me too. The reality is they are not going away (think of “Influencer marketing is a modern form of word-of-mouth marketing”), although the trappings of influencer-dom may start to shift as the FTC more diligently reviews how influencers proclaim their relationship to the ‘goods’. But, like video, there are more tools for you to use to find the right influencers (and again, a few that won’t break the bank), and as long as you stay true to your brand story, influencers can really support the expansion of your audience and subsequent sales. Along those lines, it’s best to work with influencers that already love your products for the reasons that make your brand story unique and meaningful. Think of your influencers as your most loyal customers. And think of your payment to them not only for their influence, but actually for the content they create around your story and products. They could create video, blogs, recipes, photos, content for your email campaigns, or even co-branded product: as long as you stay authentic to your story and who they are, it’s not only a terrific partnership, but it’s also the best use of influencers. And don’t forget, you want to work with them on a regular and ongoing basis so your customers are familiar with them and don’t perceive your relationship as transactional.
For example, when Cocokind released its Cocokind x shutthekaleup Sea Kale Clay Mask, it was no surprise to their audience. Jeannette (@shutthekaleup) had been touting Cocokind’s awesomeness for months. When they launched their co-branded product, they accompanied it with insider video, an interview, posts, and intense enthusiasm. More importantly, Cocokind’s brand story around clean, conscious, accessible beauty becomes even more pronounced with Jeannette, because as an influencer she prides herself on being real, using clean and conscious products, and not spending ridiculous amounts of money on her wellness routine. The product they co-created, with her as the model, epitomizes the simplicity and cleanliness of a good mask with functional ingredients, making it accessible and authentic.
Are you thinking ‘oh man, I don’t have a story!’, not to worry. There are plenty of templates and exercises out there to help you build your brand identity and the accompanying story that connects that identity to your customers. Our 2020 outlook on consumer brand marketing is that it’s all about the story, so now is the time to dive in or refresh your story if you haven’t lately. We like Lean Lab’s robust questionnaire, Change Creator’s deep dive, or Inc.’s more lightweight approach on building a brand story. We also appreciate Harvard Business Review’s focus on emotion and meaning as you build your brand story and Neil Patel’s synthesis of the importance of a brand story. Need some help on your story-building journey? Rodeo Marketing is here to help.
If you’re good on brand story, then use 2020 as an opportunity to bring partnerships into your marketing strategy! Partnerships are a great way to extend your brand story, as long as you work with the right partners. Need help getting started? Check out our friends over at Parsnip – it’s free for brands to join and get connected with the right values-aligned partners!