Article by Ronell Smith
Conventional wisdom (which is never wrong) says the simplest way to make a brand stick out in a crowded market is to spend lots of money on marketing and advertising. Blow your budget via print and online ads, in addition to television spots during choice programming, and it has to work, right? That’s what all the successful brands, inside and outside the industry, do.
Wrong! and Wrong!
The fact that entities engage in an activity says little about the efficacy of the activity itself. (I’m not saying advertising is not effective, mind you; I’m saying that advertising is largely effective only within a very narrow sphere, and even then to very specific types of companies. This is a topic I’ll be covering with great depth next month in my newsletter).
In this industry, like all the others, companies buy copious amounts of ads, do mass product giveaways, enlist the help of prominent local and national personalities (pro staffers), partner with non-competing manufacturers, create a social media footprint and use co-op advertising with retailers, all of which can be “effective.”
For our purposes, however, let’s focus on social mediaâ€”an area industry companies seem fixated upon, though it is fraught with issuesâ€”and “team members” as two of the best means to help a brand stick out:
1. Team members can help establish ubiquity.
Before I get called out for using a “big word,” that’s not my intent. I just think “ubiquity” makes my point simply: being everywhere. A prominent pro staffer can do wonders for a brand in that, through his travels for tournaments, interviews at shows and on weigh-in stages, in addition to his interactions with fans, he can provide a brand with a presence. However, that’s just one guy, and even if he wins, his impact is very limited. He has other “mouths” to feed.
Also, his tournament shirt isn’t much help. (In my opinion, tournament shirts are good space wasted, in that while they are fine with just a few logos, the rampant littering of fabric amounts to very little return for sponsors.) If you are to successfully use a pro staffer/tournament angler to add prominence to your brand, a wrapped truck or boat is a good start, provided your logos are the most dominant.
Your “team members” can have the most impact. I’m talking about local and regional pros, guides, tackle shop owners, local bass clubs and even outdoor media members. Have a couple hundred caps and t-shirts made with your logo very dominant, and send them out to these folks, who will wear them not just on the water but around town as well. Your goal, remember, is to make it feel as though your brand is everywhere, which, (a) creates curiosity for small, lesser-known brands and (b) gives the appearance of market-dominance to established brands.
2. Embrace social media.
Before you say “I already do that,” let me say something: No, you don’t. And even if you do, you are likely not getting out of it what you could. Over the last 18 months I have made better understanding social media my business, and one of the key things I’ve learned is that everyone is doing it; few are doing it well. If you want to use it to gain exposure for your brand, first think about interacting with followers and fans on Twitter and Facebook. Too many companies set up an account, post the occassional question, then never respond. Don’t do that.
You need raving fans, not just loyal followers. Engage them with questions, provide ample, consistent feedback and use the sites as an extension of your customer service. If someone reaches out to you with an issue or question, make them feel that a resolution/interaction which leaves them satisfied is your ultimate goal. If nothing else, your brand will stick out for caring about its customers as much as it does about sales, something successful, smart companies do very well. There is a reason brands like Lexus stick out: They make customer service the priority, not the product.
I know many of you will wonder why I don’t highlight options such as product giveaways. While they can be effective, especially at getting new anglers to try your product, a major concern is do they get the “right” anglers to try your product. With consumers’ love of anything free, there is a high likelihood that many, if not most, of the anglers who access giveaways are never going to be in the market for your product. They just picked it up because it was free. (There are ways around this, which I’ll cover at a later date.) Also, there is research to suggest that givewaways are one of the surest ways to devalue a brand.