Even the Biggest Brands Need TLC to Avoid Going MIA

The following is a guest post from Andrew Hanelly. If you’d like to contribute thinking here, please read the guidelines.

From the CEO running a global corporation to the preteen hustling for loose change with a lemonade stand, anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes in the business world knows one thing for sure: nothing sells itself.

It takes hustle. It takes guts. And it takes persistence.

But as competition for shelf space in the minds of the consumer intensifies, the line between a “winner” and “loser” brand becomes clearer. And it’s drawn with the blood, sweat, and tears the winning brands are willing to sacrifice in order to get there.

In the business world, we see that things are changing – household names are being kicked to the curb and replaced with brands more interested in earning a seat at the table and willing to actually empathize with their market.

For instance, recently the New York Times reported that the largest American packaged-foods marketer – Kraft – is on a mission to prevent some of its most storied brands from turning into ghosts, or “once-prominent pantry staples that fade into obscurity through a lack of consumer interest brought on by a lack of … support.”

The sacred cows are being slaughtered.

If you’re out of consumers’ sight, you’re out of their minds, and more importantly out of their homes.

It used to be simpler: have a product, blast your USP to the mass media, acquire currency, and rest on your laurels.

But the rules have changed. The audience is fragmented, and no one has a monopoly on attention. There’s more hustle required: it’s no longer just about your big news or huge ad campaign. In a fragmented media society it’s the stuff in between that starts to matter more. Face it, no one is as good at predicting success as they think they are. Instead, those who try things and iterate and are willing to put in the work to build a community ultimately come out on top.

For brands of all sizes this is a call-to-arms: for the established giants, it’s a challenge to maintain relevance. For the scrappy upstarts, it’s an opportunity to grab market share.

Some tips to staying or becoming relevant?

1.       Find out where your audience is, and spend time with them there. Read the blogs they are reading. Listen and participate on the social networks they use. Find out what TV shows they watch and what magazines they read. Learn as much about the habits of your audience as you can and figure out how your brand can be part of the environment.

2.       Stop giving speeches, start having conversation. Think beyond traditional ad placements and work to find relevant points of entry to your audience using content. 73% of people would rather learn about your brand in a series of articles rather than in a traditional ad. Why not go direct to consumer with content and be the one to write those articles? You can do it, or you can yield that opportunity to modern, relevant media companies who have organized themselves around search and social.

3.       Diversify your marketing approach. Don’t necessarily abandon traditional methods if they still make sense. Sure, social media, mobile, search and tablets are the topic de jour, but people are still spending time in traditional spaces. At the same time, make them work to grow your opt-in communities and organic marketing metrics.

Staying top of mind is one of the most difficult challenges organizations face when it comes to marketing to their audiences. Find out where they are and show up.

Your presence won’t go unnoticed.

Andrew creates and executes digital strategies for clients at TMG Custom Media.  You can follow him on Twitter and check out his posts on Engage the Blog.

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