The road map to a successful web marketing campaign is often ambiguous and difficult to visualize. After all, marketing is more of an art than a science, and there are seldom pre defined steps that lead you to an end goal. As marketers, we have to be visionaries and do a lot of testing to come up with successful marketing campaigns. Thankfully, there are a lot of pros out there who have paved the way and offer their own stories of what building a brand online looks like.
If you are old enough to remember, Shinola was a manufacturer prominent in the middle of the 20th century. You might also be old enough to remember one of the contributors to the brand's demise when it became fashionable to tell those not-so-bright that they, "didn't know shit from Shinola," which was a reference to the company's flagship shoe polish product.
Today, the brand is owned by a different company, and has been completely reinvented. They have worked hard to build a new image for Shinola focusing on American manufacturing and the distribution of American products. They buy from American suppliers throughout the country and have set up a watch-manufacturing shop right in Detroit, MI, a town known for its manufacturing heritage.
Shinola's web marketing approach has been phenomenal, and they have used a combination of social media, blogging and high quality video to tell the story of the American manufacturers that make their products. A notable feature of their campaign is that Shinola puts their suppliers out in front and shows their customers how quality products are hand-made by their neighbors, family and friends.
The company's mission has an air of mystique about it. Today's economic climate has a lot of businesses shipping jobs offshore, not choosing to manufacture goods here; especially products as complicated to make as watches. Even though many products are still made in the U.S. and many more once were, what Shinola is doing is still a little outside the box. When people arrive at Shinola's home page, a popup encourages them to "join the movement" by entering an email address. Normally, I'm not a fan of popups. When overused or implemented in the wrong context, they are the most annoying things in the world. In Shinola's case, though, I think the popup is a brilliant idea. It's short (only requiring an email), and because the new brand is in its infancy, works well to get people involved early on. And it is one good way of building an email list.
Shinola's videos are perhaps one of the most well-done parts of its campaign. Instead of placing their videos on YouTube, which is pretty much the norm these days, they opted for a Vimeo Pro account. There is one big advantage here: you get all the same features of a YouTube account like comments, the ability to write a description and embed your video (and have others embed it), but when someone is looking at your Vimeo Pro account, they aren't lured away by other videos that were not made by you.
This one has been covered a lot and for good reason. The concept of this campaign (nonsensical while intelligent humor) was very smart on its own, but the company also utilized social media in a very good way. Old Spice also used online video to reach its target market, but the company also leveraged social media in a way that all businesses using it should follow. Old Spice used the campaign's front man (the young man who was the star of the company's commercials) to respond to questions on Twitter from real people.
The company has also done a great job of engaging consumers on its Facebook page. Old Spice provides a perfect example of how social media should be used in marketing. The whole reason it is so popular is that it gives businesses a channel to interact with their customers and prospects. It is another form of communication, and it is also a place where consumers are going to communicate with one another. Therefore, the goal should be to develop a conversation with consumers as the brand and be active in that conversation. Businesses that just open an account and post status updates without ever communicating with people are not leveraging Facebook (or other platforms that they use in the same way) to their maximum potential.
The Old Spice viral nature was helped in part by the target demographic of 18-25 year olds who are thought to be some of the most inclined to share content on the web.
Blendtec is a company that makes blenders and mixers. Normally not a very exciting company, right? Not until they came up with an innovative idea to entertain people while showcasing their products at the same time. People spend most of their time online watching video. When you think about the videos that go viral, it's never a company's video that they spend thousands of dollars making or some really well-done documentary. It's always some 60-second clip of something funny, or riveting or, in other words, a complete waste of time to watch, but totally entertaining.
Blendtec takes complete advantage of this natural phenomenon. Like a bad car accident on the side of the freeway, we can't help but watch. Their quirky videos have a 1970s game-show feel and a recurring host who always introduces the video with the phrase, "Will it blend? That is the question." From pool cues to Xbox games and my personal favorite — a skeleton — the host safely jams foreign objects into Blendtec blenders while company branding is strategically placed everywhere in the frame. Millions of views and over half a million subscribers later, Blendtec has successfully achieved a high level of exposure for their online marketing efforts.
When it comes to something abstract like marketing, it helps to have leaders you can follow. The companies named in this post represent just a fraction of the kick-butt marketing campaigns you can find online. They show us that video, social media and web marketing, in general, is a powerful tool to reach a lot of people, but they also show us that you don't have to spend a ton of money to be effective. Whether it's a clever use of your supply chain combined with talented videographers, a shrewd campaign aimed at a demographic known for their web savvy or an innovative way to entertain people with your products, there is almost always a way to think outside the box.
What are some of your favorite marketing campaigns of recent years? Are there any in particular that made you want to go out and buy a product or sign up for a service? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.