7 Lessons Digital Marketers Can Learn from Martha Stewart
The following is a guest post by Future Buzz community memeber Matt Gratt.
While many people see Martha Stewart as just another craft and cooking show host, she’s actually a brilliant marketer, founder, and executive. She’s in an exclusive club: not too many people found a company and manage to take it public while staying CEO, putting her in the company of entrepreneurs like Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Marc Benioff, and Howard Schultz.
This success is not unwarranted. In addition to being a gifted maker, Martha is a brilliant marketer. The company name alone – Martha Stewart OmniMedia – suggests a certain ambition beyond individual channels, aiming for a place in customer’s lives, rather than a certain book, website, magazine or television show.
In this interview with Chris Anderson at the Wired Business Conference, Martha Stewart talks about her approach to technology and how her business adapts to the ever changing digital world. You’ll also notice that she’s deeply knowledgeable about new technology, tries everything manufacturers send her, and is truly committed to embracing what’s new.
1. Follow Customers – Not Technology Religion
“You have to be where the customer is. And that’s been another very important part of our business – try to be where the customer needs you and wants you… Always try to satisfy the customer.”
Technology will change. People will go from desktop internet, to mobile apps, to tablet apps, to HTML5/CSS3 web apps, to whatever comes next. And rather than betting on technology, smart marketers should figure out how to deliver a value proposition to their audience across these technologies.
As Cisco says in their Approach to Quality, “No Technology Religion: Because customer satisfaction is our number one priority, Cisco employees are to actively listen, share and explore to ensure we provide the best solutions to meet our customers’ needs.”
2. Tap the Innovation of the Crowd
“We use a lot of Etsy contributors on our show. We go there when we’re looking for a crafter that makes crepe-paper flowers, for example. We go to Etsy and try to find the best.”
Martha Stewart’s team finds the most talented makers on Etsy and crafts with them. Why don’t marketers find the most talented content creators amongst their ecosystem and empower them with recognition and a distribution platform? Or better yet, hire them?
3. Hire People That Would Do Their Job for Free
“Everyone that works at the company is really a do-it-yourselfer.”
If you can, hire people that do their job (or activities related to their job) in their spare time. While it’s easier to find people that are enthusiastic about crafting or cooking than say, enterprise software, everyone can look for the same function-related or industry-related traits.
Do your online marketing managers have a blog or test sites? Do your engineers have github repos or side projects? Do your designers sell their work on ThemeForest? Are your sales people intensely competitive social butterflies? Does your office manager re-organize his or her closet for fun?
It’s too hard to get people excited about a job. Find people who are already excited, and convince them to join you.
4. Use Content Marketing to Build Trust
“We have the magazine – we show how to make the perfect omelet in the magazine. Then on TV, I can also show how to make the perfect omelet. Then we have the video. Then people trust us because our recipes work so well, they also want to have the omelet pan I was using. So why not make the omelet pan? So we design the omelet pan and find the retailer that wants to sell our product.”
While there are at least three great marketing lessons in that quote, let’s focus on the content marketing aspect of Martha Stewart Omnimedia. After they’ve established trust with consumers – by providing written recipes, instructional videos, and other forms of content around the problem they face – they provide an excellent tool.
And perhaps even better, MSO captures a great deal of the margin by partnering for manufacturing and distribution.
5. If Your Content Gets a Positive Response, Go With It
“We have some amazing craft segments on our show which then morph into templates for our website, which morph into instructions on our craft blog, which morph into, ultimately, sometimes products.”
Martha and her team follow their audience – if they see a television segment getting a response, they’ll create templates and instructions for that project. Now their audience can engage even more deeply with their brand and programming – not just enjoying the TV show, but doing the activities in their home.
6. Follow the Law. Closely.
“It didn’t work to go to jail.”
Follow the law to the very best of your ability. This means not just avoiding insider trading, but ensuring compliance with FTC guidelines, getting proper clearance on all of your images, and, yes, going through legal. This also means doing your best to follow the rules of your vendors and partners – it’s not glamorous to get banned from Google, Facebook, or Craigslist either.
7. Invest in the Future
You must invest in the future if you are going to be in the future. That’s very important for all companies to pay attention to. You’re not going to retain your employees if you’re not investing in the future.
Digital marketing today is simply so competitive, if you’re not growing your reach, traffic, and revenue, it’s shrinking. You can invest in the future, or you can be irrelevant. Fortunately, the choice is yours.
Matt Gratt is an online marketing consultant focused on B2B software and web companies. Follow him on Twitter @MattGratt. He also writes about marketing, technology, and business on his blog Grattisfaction.