by Melissa McNutt / originally published on LinkedIn
Summer is just around the corner and we all know what that means, right? Rosé all day! Errr, about that…For the last several summers we’ve been bombarded with a certain style of cultural cliche, one with a synthetic aesthetic that permeates social media and events created to be used on social- and if you’re feeling what I’m feeling, you’re over it. Like ourselves, consumers are sick of canned moments and lining up for engagements with a more genuine feel. Transitioning away from curated monotony and working to deliver more authentic content for your followers is a great way to stand out in a crowded space no matter which marketing channel you’re using to deliver your message.
Here are some thoughts on how to keep your brand messaging authentic rather than contrived:
Don’t be a clone
Summer events are hot, fast and fun and can give your brand a real boost if you’re picking the right places to activate. I’m a big fan of attaching activations to cultural moments to bolster brand marketing, but to really make this work requires some deep thought around execution. Nothing is a bigger turnoff than a sponsorship that blatantly lacks the context to tie your brand into an experience or worse, you look just like every other brand on site. You have to come up with a concept that is unique to the event you’re associating with and not an obvious rip off of something consumers will recognize. Tie into the event, but put your own spin on it and make sure you’re approaching the concept with a sense of humor and an appropriate level of self awareness.
Pick partnerships with shelf life
A well crafted influencer or fellow brand partnership is a great way to give legs to an activation, but you have to ensure the engagement rings true to both sets of followers as this is the audience you’re looking to convert. If you want to give a genuine feel to a partnership with an influencer, you need to agree on a set amount of guidelines that go beyond just promoting things onsite at events. Your partnership should extend pre and post event via channels like social media and any custom content they are publishing. When thinking about structuring your partnership strategy, be sure to factor in activating online and IRL and how you want that to look to ensure it’s an authentic partnership that resonates with consumers.
Engage on a genuine level
What motivates you to get out of the house on the weekend? Chances are, your Saturdays are consumed with socializing, parenting and dining out like most everybody else. But when I pull up social media, I’m inundated with glamorous, posed families and serene women embarking on wellness journeys and frankly it just ties in to my life less and less. Life is messy and brands can absolutely keep it real while selling a lifestyle. As a brand creating messaging, factoring in your audience to determine content creation can save time and money in addition to helping you stand out. There’s a way to sell an aspirational lifestyle without alienating your audience, it just requires thoughtfulness and authenticity. Your audience wants to relate to you and moments that are too magazine ready just make you look out of touch rather than genuine.
Authenticity in marketing is not a new concept, but learning how to spread it out over the channels you use to engage with consumers is something that can be a challenge if you’re stuck in a rut or falling down a rabbit hole of clichés. As you evolve your messaging, be sure to weave your polished brand persona amongst efforts that show you’re real people behind the curtain. Your audience is savvier than ever, and updating your experiential channels to incorporate genuine moments is going to result in more loyalty in return.
Melissa McNutt is a Co-Founder and Head of Strategy at One Two Collective, a consultancy that helps brands enhance their consumer experience. Prior to that, she was Head of Brand Experience at mixed reality startup Magic Leap and Head of Experiential at Samsung. Email her at email@example.com.
Rain showers, allergies, conferences- all the traditional markers of spring are flourishing and we’re popping in to highlight some of the good, the interesting, and the “room for improvement” we’ve seen around the world of consumer experience since we last checked in.
If you’re asking what exactly we mean by consumer experience, then hi, you might be new here. We are marketers who focus on the entirety of your consumer experience, meaning we like every touchpoint of your brand to contribute to a larger, cohesive story. See what we’re thinking around some of the most relevant consumer channels, below.
Anthropologie has entered the sea of retailers making a push in the plus-sized market. The difference? They’re doing a really good job. Retailers are also starting to evolve their in-store merchandising and engaging elements to create smaller, intimate experiences for shoppers.
Shoptalk continues to raise the bar for conferences by assembling a community focused on pushing the envelope for what retail can accomplish. The volatility of the retail industry has forced brands to iterate and do it quickly, a mentality that other industries should be keen to replicate. If you want our (one) two cents, we do think the event could benefit from a few more career-journalists well versed in aneditorial style of moderating helming the keynotes and avoiding the scripted, presentation-style talk.
AirBnB is keenly aware that every component of their interaction with a guest is based on their experience throughout the journey- booking through review. While they work out those kinks in the background, they are frontloading their brand with idyllic experiences likethis contest giving some lucky duo the chance to spend the night in the Louvre.
The kids are alright. By alright we mean really smart. They know the next trend before you do, and they’re creative as hell. Seriously, did you see this Aliens remake these high school kids in New Jersey did on a $2,000 budget? We just had to shout it out, but the point remains. Your influencer program needs to be airtight and adaptable, just like the consumers you’re trying to reach or it could backfire. We get more into this in the blog below.
Consistency across your content experience is key. Beyoncé dropped the trailer for Homecoming, a new documentary, on Netflix this week and as is her norm, she made quite the splash. Beyoncé markets herself meticulously and the content she expertly releases speaks directly to her audience no matter the medium; rather than a visual album she mixed it up this time creating a documentary following the creation of her headlining performance at Coachella created as an homage to theblack college experience.
What is relevant to even us non-Beyoncé’s, though, is that when you’re evaluating the messaging your brand is looking to share, every channel your brand utilizes must work together or you risk sending mixed messages and losing your relevance.
Thank you for reading and to be on our mailing list or learn more about One Two Collective, drop us a linehere.
Doubling down on efforts to reach your customers as individuals is a smart way to stretch budgets and establish relationships.
by OTC Staff
What two evergreen challenges are faced by growing brands no matter the sector?
You’ve got it- budget and competition. Both are regular concerns brought up in initial client meetings, and there’s no silver bullet to eliminate them completely. Instead, we frequently recommend refocusing and doubling down on personalization in your marketing as a great way to combat these obstacles. Reaching customers in their inbox without a previously established relationship is pretty much a pipe dream, so what do you do to increase your brand’s reach to customers on an individual level? You need to personalize your brand’s consumer experience in a more holistic way.
It’s time to get busy. Rather than leaning into one channel, a holistic approach emphasizes utilizing a variety of resources to enhance every touchpoint consumers have with your brand and creating opportunities for them to do so. Email fatigue is at an all-time high and creating a more authentic experience to represent your brand will tell customers way more about who your brand is than an ad following them around on the internet. Settle in and let’s get personal on how to deliver more individualized messaging.
But I’m an influencer!
It’s not just a buzzword; it’s a lifestyle. Seriously, it’s probably only minutes away from being a college major because it’s totally a legitimate career and it’s not going anywhere. Why? People follow influencers they like, and as long as their opinions can be monetized, brands are going to work with them. And since influencers attract a following by sharing their personal opinions, influencer marketing is inherently personal. The scope of your influencer program can be as large or small as you want, but developing authentic relationships with your influencers is a great way to get bang for your buck because of their reach and because they’ve already done the hard work of cultivating an audience.
At the core of it, the influencers you want to be engaging are successful because they’ve developed a core audience of people who trust their personal opinions and that audience aligns with your target demographic. Revolve, the online retailer who could give a masterclass in creating an influencer program, relies on influencers to get customers to their site. Personalizing the brand, the lifestyle, and the clothes for their core audience has enabled them to develop credibility and amplified the message Revolve is looking to get across. This savvy positioning has resulted in their influencer program being responsible for 70% of all sales.
Let’s get experiential.
Experiential is everywhere and it’s hot. Being intimidated by a mega-trend is a normal reaction, but crafting unique experiences for your customers is something that good marketers have been doing natively for ages. Finding the tipping point for turning an observer into an active participant is the key to creating an experience that connects with your customer on a personal level in a way that a passive digital engagement does not. If you’ve stepped foot in a public space in the past five years, you’re likely aware that the core challenge here is thinking about how to get people to look up from their phones. The good news is, this isn’t as much about how big your budget is so much as your penchant for creativity and how well you understand the motivations of the demographic you’re going after.
Are you demo’ing at a chain of stores? What makes your guest experience different than the standard? Are you sampling in a local coworking space? How are people interacting with your product in the moment and what does their follow-up touch point look like? Try and develop an experience that gets these new potential fans excited about the next time they hear from you. Even better? Leave them so incentivized from your interaction that they initiate the follow up.
Larger experiences are a great way to establish a tentpole event for your brand and connect with your consumers in a uniquely personalized way. For instance, Refinery29 has done a great job of this in their 29Rooms pop up exhibit and is now rolling it out to more locations to deepen connections with consumers in more diverse regions.
A few tips:
Make sure you’re creating an experience around your brand that matches the tone of your overall outreach, otherwise you’re risking your credibility. If you’re not going all-out in any other capacity, it doesn’t really make sense to here, either. Also, don’t assume you’re hitting the right people just because you get a lot of traffic. The key to experiential marketing is creating experience that YOUR customer will enjoy, not just looky loos. Also, experiential marketing has become a defined marketing channel and to ensure you’re getting the most ROI standardize your data tracking so you can compare and improve your experiences over time.
A simple question that punches way above its weight class- it’s where good conversations and projects begin. In business development it’s easy to fall in to the practice of asking for something from your prospect. Move past that awkwardness with a smile and genuine offer to help.
When I present my clients with this simple ask, the response is almost always a sigh of relief wrapped in a chuckle – “where to begin, can you pick up my kid from school and have this cut to my boss all by 7pm?!” A warm opener and a good way to move the conversation forward without putting the onus on your client to give a TED talk on their latest challenge.
Inboxes are a wasteland and dusty post-its cover the flashing light of voicemail notifications in cubicles everywhere. People don’t need more notifications, more things to look at, or more questions. They need some assistance, someone to take a couple of things off their plate and know they’re going to get done and be boss-review-ready.
Luckily I’ve always come from a place of, “how can I help?” I say lucky because it really was a natural reaction I had when beginning my career and not knowing anything about business development, project or account management. Managing a project, new business deal or priority account is a complicated web with lots of lines to read between. What I found I did know, was how to help and mobilize my network to solve any challenges I couldn’t on my own.
Let’s break it down
Be a resource.
Need a photoreal dragon sigil that impresses fans of the biggest show of the last decade? Got it. Heading to New Orleans for a wedding next month? Awesome! My buddy lives there; here’s a great list of things to do from a local’s standpoint. Whatever the ask, be a known go-to resource. It’s not always about being transactional. It’s about helping.
Have confidence in your team.
I thought I was creative until I met and worked with truly creative people. There’s no need to be the smartest person in the room or try and solve someone’s problem if I have someone else that can do it better. When we first began talking with the production team on Free Solo, the focus wasn’t budget and scope. It was – can you help me bring El Capitan to life and help our director realize her vision for this mountain and incredible story of this climbing feat? No, I personally cannot but Josh and our team at BigStar can and they’ll kill it. Let me introduce you, come have a conversation with us, let us put some frames together. I didn’t need to close, I knew I needed them to meet my team and hear our vision.
Offer a solution.
For any number of reasons, not all projects are a fit. However, the word “no” is never in my vocabulary. Being a resource comes from a place of service rather than sales. “Sorry, this project is going to be a tough fit for my team but, have you tried….?” Recently, I received a call from a new client that was in a tough spot. You know the classic triangle – good, fast, cheap? She was staring at it dead center. In short, I recommended a live action approach to a problem she was looking to solve in 3D. She hadn’t thought about it and never dreamed she’d be able to afford it but in reality, she could and although she may not have hit the triangle trifecta, the story she’s telling will be realized in a much less complicated and more highly effective way.
This resource-focused approach has been a fundamental, and enjoyable, element of relationship building for me and the foundation of my career in business development. Challenges come in various forms, states, and valuations but being a trusted resource will always be most relevant. Taking that a step further and being someone you can hit up for a good drinks spot in Manhattan or outdoor activities for your kids while you’re vacationing in Austin adds color to my daily conversations and is something I genuinely enjoy doing.
With that being said, Hi. I’m Carson. How can I help?
Carson Hood is the executive producer at BigStar, the award winning motion graphics and design company as well as the co-founder of One Two Collective, a consumer experience marketing consultancy.
How plugging in to a major cultural moment like March Madness can give your marketing a boost by association
by Melissa McNutt / Originally published on Linkedin
You don’t need to spend millions of dollars on a primetime commercial to reap the benefits of a major cultural moment like the NCAA basketball tournament starting later this week. Looping into a current event is always smart when done correctly because there is a built-in fan base and if they overlap with your consumers, it can be a slam dunk (see what I did there).
How to make piggybacking on to a cultural moment work for your brand:
Don’t be basic: You can’t force something to go viral but you can trust that marketing campaigns that have an air of randomness assuredly had a lot of thinking and planning go into it ahead of time. Develop a unique concept and have a little fun with the methods used to reach your audience. Creativity is the calling card of successful brands who use a combination of cultural moments and a clear marketing message to cleverly reach fans in a memorable way.
Embrace the experience: Don’t be too cool to be a part of the big show, in fact that’s why we’re all here. Let’s take a humble step back and enter the scene with our eyes wide open as to where our efforts fit into the larger picture. If you’re running a consumer experience in conjunction with a larger property, you have to take certain event elements into consideration while programming your content. Try working with a variety of influencers that enjoy the event/festival you’re hosting them at, but who also speak across multiple channels (sports, fashion, lifestyle) to tie the conversation back to your brand organically.
You can’t fake it: This is my favorite piece of marketing (and life) advice: you can’t force a relationship. If your consumer just isn’t that into you, your inability to translate what events and cultural moments they’re interested in has the potential to damage your brand rather than bolster it. Work backward when considering the property you’re attaching yourself to, then think about how you fit into the conversation and if this partnership is relevant to your consumer before even starting to pursue it.
If you’re looking for an IRL example, I’ve recently seen multiple brands (I won’t call you out) attaching themselves to International Women’s Day when they don’t do anything to promote women the rest of the year. Don’t be that brand. It’s not a cute look, so be sure to think about the conversation you’re starting and ask if it’s authentic or if you come off like a poser.
These are all reasons why a genuine approach to developing experiences by piggybacking on a major cultural moment like March Madness is a great way to enhance the reach of your brand. Social, influencer campaign, experiential activation; the possibilities are endless when considering how to utilize a cultural moment for your brand’s benefit so get creative and work smarter to make it happen.
Melissa McNutt is a Co-Founder and Head of Strategy atOne Two Collective, a consultancy that helps brands enhance their consumer experience. Prior to that, she was Head of Brand Experience at mixed reality startup Magic Leap and Head of Experiential at Samsung.
Here at One Two, we spend a lot of time doling out info and felt it was high time some of that information centered around who we are and why you might have wanted to get to know us in the first place. You may know us by a few terms- consultants or marketers in residence- and hopefully know us in a broader sense by having seen our hands in various projects all centered around cultivating consumer experiences for clients. So, please allow us to gratuitously share our origin story in hopes that it will give some insight as to how we launched this venture and what we hope to accomplish for ourselves and our clients.
Who We Are
Melissa found her calling in entertainment marketing and consumer technology- first as a founding member of the Samsung experiential team in North America before heading up brand experience for Magic Leap. Elizabeth has spent the majority of her career in New York, after some time in financial services with Bloomberg she found a way back to her roots in thought leadership and marketing for retail and entertainment partnerships at WWD.
Regular observers of each other’s work, we have been percolating on the state of marketing and the shift we’ve been observing since our careers began. After various life events moved us all around the country, those observations began to seem more like fact than conjecture and we started to envision how we could utilize this shift in our work. Ultimately, we’ve found the best fit taking on the role of marketers in residence assisting clients and resulting in better work without the restrictions typically found within agencies.
The State of Marketing
What exactly was it that we were seeing? Well, after our cumulative years spent in technology, finance, retail and entertainment we noticed that the agency model once perceived as canon in the industry no longer makes sense for most brands. Disruptors of all shapes and sizes are popping onto the scene daily all clamoring for your attention and new customers.
On the flip side of this, or I guess partially as a result of, consumer interest in brands they’d been historically loyal began to decrease while we’ve inversely seen an increase in the appetite for the discovery of new experiences and brands. Speaking this new language of discovery authentically is a challenge faced by all marketers. To stay relevant, brands have to be able to adapt quickly and connect with consumers, so we pulled on a model used regularly in other industries and adapted it for marketing: the as-a-service model.
Marketers in Residence
With the formation of One Two Collective, our custom marketing programs integrate into what you’re already doing seamlessly because we act as marketers in residence for our specific points of expertise. If your brand is only operating in digital, we’ll figure out the best experience to complement your existing marketing whether that be an influencer strategy or thought leadership moment and build it out. Consumer experience is defined by every interaction customers have with your brand and because people will arrive at your brand for a multitude of reasons, you need all channels to be consistent and work together.
Building off what we believe are the foundational elements of the modern consumer experience: experiential, retail, digital, thought leadership and content, we can help you to develop and implement necessary layers of your consumer communications:
Define your brand messaging & strategy
Communications plan for how/when/where distribution occurs
Execution and/or Execution Oversight
Our hope in this writing exercise was to provide some clarity around who we are and our philosophies around the modern state of marketing. Melissa and her family are currently based in San Diego while Elizabeth and her family returned to their Texas roots in Austin- but you can find us frequently criss-crossing our states and the country meeting with clients, discovering exceptional new consumer experiences and continually staying abreast of trends and best practices for our clients.
If you want to learn more about how your brand can cost effectively reach your customers using methodologies rooted in authentic consumer experiences, we’re your team. If you don’t know what you want, but some of this sounds interesting, we’re your team for that, too. Drop us a lineand connect for the marketing version of a jam sesh where we have a no pressure convo about what your brand is doing and how we might help.