The Budweiser Clydesdales paid a visit to Evansville recently, and social media had a ball. I feel like I saw dozens of horse selfies, posts about seeing the mascots in person, and a general positive sense of connection with what is a cool, but ultimately ingrained, marketing message.
Imagine my intrigue when, as I browsed the news of the day last week, I read that AB InBev is transitioning away from the Clydesdales from their upcoming advertising campaigns, in favor of a campaign that will, according to their marketing people, resonate more with a younger audience. Spokespeople for InBev have since clarified that the horses will indeed appear in the upcoming Super Bowl commercial, but also said that catering specifically to 21-27 year olds is a “long-term view of what will turn around the brand.”
Millennials, apart from apparently not buying Budweiser at desired levels, are quickly becoming a huge talking point among businesses large and small. As the percentages of the population continue to evolve, the ability to market to and convert millennials has spawned articles, blogs, conferences, books, speeches, and any other type of think piece you can imagine. The result: businesses throwing out the whole marketing plan and starting from scratch in order to reach this mythical unicorn of an audience.
I can’t tell you strongly enough how bad of an idea that is.
Speaking on the opinions, attitudes, and values of an entire generation requires research, and something the researchers agree on is the growing value of authenticity. If you are authentic in your depiction of who you are, it resonates more now that ever before. The authenticity of your company should carry through on television, radio, and, yes, digital marketing. The medium does not and should not affect how you tell the world who you are; all it should do is alter the way you say it.
So how can you set your marketing up to be authentic, no matter what current and future technologies we use to communicate?
There’s a great chance that part of the reason for the success you’ve achieved thus far is because of something about you. What stories do you have to share with the world? Focus on that, because those are the stories that resonate most in a world that has had its fill of hollow, transparent sales pitches.
Taking the time to sit down with everyone on the team and working out, bit by bit, what your message is and how to communicate it will go a very long way. No matter what platforms exist now or will exist in the future, they will all use some combination of words, pictures, video, and color. By setting a firm standard on those things, you have effectively planned for any and every scenario for distributing and connecting with an audience.
You are who you are, and your offerings are what they are. Instead of finding out how you can copy the success of a competitor, take what makes you different and highlight it organically. The smallest upstart can unseat the mightiest giant by thinking quickly, being open to taking chances, and walking down the road less traveled. This culture is infectious, and carries over from traditional to digital in tone, in practice, and in success.
Knowing your audience is a key factor in marketing success. A bigger factor, however, is knowing yourself. If you know who you are, and can take the steps to be true to that in whatever method is presented, you have taken an important first step. Everything else starts with following the same line.