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Did you hear how HBO Max hacked their way into reinventing their brand?

Let’s rewind a bit…

  • May 27th: WarnerMedia launched HBO Max to rival Netflix. (They already have HBO GO and HBO NOW which give you HBO content but in different ways.)
  • HBO Max is a standalone streaming service that includes all of HBO’s content in addition to movies, series, cartoons, and more from WarnerMedia Entertainment. (New series and other content will also premiere on HBO Max under the title Max Originals.)
  • Leading up to the launch, WarnerMedia was busy securing rights to shows like The Big Bang Theory, South Park and the Holy Grail of streaming: the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. reunion.

Why not just stick to HBO? 

HBO Max is here to keep things light and breezy compared to the hard-hitting, boundary-pushing and genre-defining productions that have to live up to what people expect from HBO.

In this interview, HBO’s Content Chief described their focus to be much broader. Calling Max an “HBO alternative”, he explained that their content selection is designed to bring something for everyone, starting with programs like Sesame Street and making its way up to young adults.

It doesn’t sound all that different than HBO –and even the marketing team at HBO Max seems to agree

That’s why they’re playing by different rules.

Instead of going through traditional branding channels, their Senior VP of Growth Marketing is employing guerilla tactics to find new ways to start and hijack online conversations around their brand.

They’re tapping into the pop culture built around TV and movie titles that WarnerMedia already own.

They’re building a brand through growth marketing

Growth marketing is all about zeroing in on the user. Instead of waiting for people to discover HBO Max, they got their (digital) boots on the ground and took their brand to their audience.

They’ve been tapping into existing conversations around their content as well as starting new ones through Twitter polls, influencers and by getting into trending memes.

Copyright: HBO Max

Are they getting any results?

To be honest, the whole things is still a bit of a mess.

For the new subscribers, the biggest attraction in HBO Max is still HBO’s original series.

However, as far as managing the HBO brand goes, AT&T might just succeed at delivering a Netflix-like experience through Max without diluting the grown-up and sophisticated vibe that HBO has been building for so long.

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Is it time for you to follow Netflix’s example?

Do you remember watching the mind-twisting, choose-your-own-adventure style Black Mirror: Bandersnatch on Netflix?

As if Black Mirror wasn’t twisted enough already now you can watch the horror, sci-fi and 80’s nostalgia captured in a captivating movie with 5 possible endings.

Bandersnatch was Netflix’s first major success with interactive content. Which beyond tying them up in a lawsuit is also seen as their secret marketing weapon for years to come. 

Netflix has long been a data company and with interactive content, Netflix can now get a deeper understanding of our product preferences, tastes, beliefs and attitudes.

Does this mean you need to pitch a new series to Netflix?

Look, interactive content – being any content that you can interact with –  has been around for some time. Already in 2016, 53% of marketers were using it. And chances are that you’ve come across it in its many, many forms.

But guy it’s 2020 and many content marketers still haven’t gone beyond vanilla metrics, maybe it’s time to give interactive content a shot.

What type of data are we talking about?

With interactive content, we can start collecting psychographic data or data that uncovers people’s tastes and opinions. While this isn’t a replacement for customer research, it’s a smart way to start gathering aggregate data to complement larger research or study.

Using quizzes, graders, product hunts, puzzles and memory games you’re not only engaging people but also learning more about their preferences. And before you worry about data science, these days there are tools that do the heavy lifting for you.

What’s in it for my customers?

According to Gartner, enterprise buyers spend up to 27% of their time researching independently online and 77% of enterprise buyers find making enterprise purchases difficult. But they agree that the quality of information not only increases their likelihood to buy but also makes them more likely to buy a bigger deal with less regret.

Interactive content can be fun and entertaining and it can also be used to help experts make more informed decisions.

What are you going to do next?

Is there room for you to improve how you engage your customers? If the answer is yes then you’re a Google search away from hundreds of tools for everything from making interactive infographics to gamified landing pages that generate conversions. I’ve worked with both LeadFamily and Cheetah Digital and can vouch for their tools.

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Lessons from Nike on how to respond to major social and cultural events

Now that you know what to do, here’s some inspiration to get you firing on all your cylinders.

For a long time, Nike has been championing social and cultural events that are important to their fans.

How Nike has responded to major social and cultural events:

  1. Nike launched Play for the World during Covid-19 that brought their fans and athletes together by staying active despite being stuck at home.
  2. In 1995, Nike aired an ad featuring an openly gay and HIV positive runner Ric Munoz, gaining applause from AIDS activists.
  3. During the same year, Nike launched a campaign for advocating gender equality in sports
  4. During 2017, Nike launched a campaign featuring Middle Eastern women pushing social norms in sports.
  5. The controversial ad featuring Colin Kaepernick was a stroke of marketing genius.

Not only are they good at brand advertising, keeping up with Nike’s social presence is a master class in brand management.

Let’s not get carried away, though, Nike has its problems and it wasn’t so long ago when a boycott of Nike products brought the company to its knees.

But they’ve since committed to being the voice of their athletes and redoubled efforts on social causes that resonate with their fans globally.

Nike isn’t the only one.

There are many other brands supporting their fans and proving their purpose in meaningful ways.

  1. Ford Motors ‘Built to lend a hand‘ is a campaign to help its customers who might need help with leasing and credit.
  2. A message of support and compassion from Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day.
  3. Unity a platform for game developers is offering free virtual lessons to anyone interested in learning code because “At this difficult time, we remain committed to making it easier and more intuitive for you to achieve your aspirations. We believe the world is a better place with more creators in it.”
  4. Here are more examples of brands supporting their fans and communities, from Facebook to Dyson to Citi Group and Brewdog.

The lesson here isn’t to do what Nike (or anyone else) does (that would be jumping on the bandwagon).

Instead, find that one thing that you believe in. Ideally, it’s something that empowers others.

Own it. Live it. Breathe it. Do it. Do it all the time and your fans will follow?

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We all need to stop waiting for the next bandwagon

Have you been drowning in a wave of messages written in COVID-speak about “these uncertain times”?

On a scale of 1-10, I’ll rate my sickness of it at a solid ?. Yah, that’s a number.

This is the time to come together, to show compassion and lend a hand. When you want to show your support, but without knowing exactly what to say, many brands are falling back on something safe and familiar.

However, it isn’t just now that your brand needs to be present and available; this should be true every time your fans need your support.

Today’s I’m sharing tips on finding your voice how to get branding done right.

Building a brand is hard work.

I’ve been working on becoming a better writer for the last two years. I’ve read the books, watched the videos and skimmed the blogs.

And after solidifying my logic, checking my facts and writing thousands of words for a 600-word article, I still end up running to my wife asking “Can you make me sound less boring?!”.

How’s this related to branding, Aliyar?

You see, it’s a lot easier for me to fall back on something reliable rather than fumbling around or worse wasting your time by sending you something incoherent.

The fact that she’s been writing since she was like five years old (and that she’s a battle-hardened copywriter who works Hogwarts level magic with words) just makes her so much better at it than I am.

I think that maybe this is also what makes jumping on a bandwagon so much easier.

Not because the bandwagon is always relevant or important, but because it’s easier to ride the coattails of the latest news wave to virality or relevancy, without really having to go through the trouble of finding your brand’s voice or purpose.

It’s never been more important to be authentic.

Recently all you hear is; how in these uncertain, unpredictable, challenging, unprecedented, exceptional, unique, unusual times this lemon-scented organic body scrub, or that new style of casual footwear, is more important than it has ever been before. Ever.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some lemon-scented organic body scrub, but right now it’s more important to be authentic and compassionate, as this business on Instagram, than tactical.

Your brand is better than that.

Brand advertising can be expensive for small and medium companies, everyone doesn’t have pockets as deep as Nike after all, but that really shouldn’t stop you from having a voice that says something other than how to find your stall at the next expo.

While brand advertising may only be for the big boys, brand communication is something that every brand does – whether they’re consciously in control of it or not – and that, therefore, every brand is already communicating with anyone who comes in contact with them.

6 tips for finding your purpose and building your voice

#1 It’s not about what your customers can do for you, but what you can do for them.

It’s not just about encouraging your customers to buy from you when the times are tough. It’s what you can do for them all the time.

Brands need to embody empathy and compassion towards their fans and there are a handful of brands doing just that.

Big brands may have the world’s most creative minds on a retainer but no creative can ever be as passionate about your brand as you are. So, the change starts with you.

#2 Make time to listen to your customers.

It’s impossibly easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of running a business. I know from personal experience that this is a sure way to lose touch with your customers.

Once every two to three weeks you should purposefully make time to meet your customers. Invite them for a cuppa and if that’s too much then schedule a call with them. Listen to them – it’s invaluable to find out what they value the most about you.

#3 Spoil your customers.

You really don’t need a huge advertising budget to build a brand – or an advertising budget at all. You’ll get far better results if you spend your time and money in making their interactions with you more enjoyable and memorable.

#4 Say it out loud.

Our actions speak louder than words. Still, that’s no substitute for not documenting and frequently communicating your brand values with your team.

The bigger your team, the more important it is for you to make sure that everyone’s on the same page.

#5 Do something new.

The lure of sticking to what works is strong. Often so strong that we stop improving.

Aim to launch 2 to 3 new products or services each year. If you can’t think of anything novel yourself, imagine your most demanding customer and figure out what would put the biggest smile on their face.

#6 Tell your story loud and clear.

As businesses grow they also tend to build taller and taller walls around them. You thrive because of your customers but you’ll have no business if you build walls to keep them out.

People don’t get too close to things they can’t see or understand. Be open, engaging and inclusive. Share your stories, adventures as well as misadventures and make them feel like they’re in your inner circle.

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