By Jack Holt, Mattr CEO (Originally posted on Medium)
Recently the New Yorker reported on Facebook’s real reason for ending the peace between ad blockers and publishers. But instead of a crushing, Soviet-like strategic salvo, this latest offensive in the war on consumer happiness is more like a roll-up play in Senior and Assisted Living properties. On second thought, maybe it is very Soviet-like; it’s one big place where the brand voice will go to die.
Apple’s mobile ad blockers, which have earned a lot of attention, work only on Safari’s mobile browser. But Apple’s entire mobile platform is built on closed-system apps, not Web-based sites. Ads served within these apps cannot be blocked by anything, not even Apple’s own ad blockers.
And the Payoff:
It’s not a coincidence, either, that Apple makes money from apps through both sales and advertising, while it earns nothing from its mobile browser.
But publishers, even those with enormous resources such as Facebook, can’t keep this up much longer: Youngs do not trust the brand voice. Click-throughs depend on some constant of this trust to achieve their dismal yield. Reference Andrew Chen’s famous “Law of Shitty Clickthroughs” which hypothesizes that, once a new platform or tricky ad tactic loses its novelty, others show up to pump the click-through percentage back up, in a never-ending cycle. But Chen’s hypothesis assumes that next generations of consumers will behave as did the previous. That the variable of brand-voice trust will remain constant. As they say, “history repeats itself — but never in the same way.” Accordingly, new technology, that unknown responsible for continental shifts in our behavior/society, has invalidated Chen’s theory.
According to a 2015 report by Razorfish, only 6% of millennials trust what comes from the mouth of the brand. Gen Zs are even more cynical, especially since mobile ads can be particularly deceptive.
I’ve read other research stating that brand trust is 1- 3%, but you get the point; advertising is facing a Kodak moment in history.
Near-instant social connection — with breadth — is the proxy brand voice. Word of mouth with scale and accessibility is the new voice of the brand, which is mostly uncontrollable and therefore — and this is key — authentic.
Facebook Continues Its Strategy to Alienate “Youngs”
We’ve all read the reports confirming what us “Olds” see: That millennials are Facebook-Cutters and Gen Zs, like my 16 year old, are Facebook-Nevers. Facebook’s latest salvo, channeling as many brand voices as possible into Facebook-land, should provide them with a bump in ad revenue. But the yield from their portfolio of properties will surely decline. Chen’s clickthrough graph will take an inexorable nose-dive, as the Olds literally die off, leaving the brand-wary and noise-weary Youngs — those with the purchasing power — in full control of the brand voice.
Few companies are quite as adept at maintaining and communicating their values as Volkswagen. Beginning in the 1930s, Volkswagen (whose name literally means “people’s car” in German) aimed to empower the everyman to own and drive a car. This idea was radically nonconformist in an age when companies only produced luxury cars for the elite. But VW’s message of inclusivity and openness to change resonated with consumers.
Because Volkswagen has held on to those values for decades, it has built a passionate following. Now three of the top 10 bestselling cars of all time, according to AutoGuide.com, are VWs. Some of the manufacturer’s classic models — the Beetle and the Type 2 bus — have become icons. (People still love features like odd heater handles on the floor, the clatter and rattle of the air-cooled engine and the aesthetic in these cars that virtually everyone could afford to buy.)
Although models have changed throughout the years, VW has remained focused on “progress” and “defying convention” and these values have served the company well.
A strong brand message can communicate your company’s values, differentiate it from competitors’ and make your target audience take notice. Here are some tips for establishing values that resonate with your target audience:
1. Determine your values as a founder.
Figure out where your values lie so you can build a brand that will always be in alignment. Are you resistant to change or determined to save the world one person at a time? What you stand for as an entrepreneur and your organization’s brand message will determine which consumers connect with the company.
L.L.Bean was founded on traditionalism and transparency while In-N-Out Burger is rooted in uncompromised quality and consistency. These brands have maintained loyal followings by standing by these values.
2. Analyze the target market’s leanings.
Even though your market can encompass different audiences, determine the core values the majority of your audience holds dear. If that majority’s preferences are out of alignment with your company’s values, pick a different market. Don’t compromise your company’s values just to fit in.
VW strayed too far from its audience’s core values when in 2004 it released the Phaeton, a premium model. Sales were so low the company abandoned the model in the United States in 2006.
3. Team up with those with similar values.
Maintain a cohesive team and minimize turnover by only hiring people who share your core values. For instance, if you’re the type of person who wants to reward employees for their attitude and work but hires people who just want to climb the corporate ladder, they won’t be a good long-term fit.
The same rule applies for potential company partners. No matter how talented the applicant or valuable the potential partner, if someone doesn’t align with what your brand stands for, you don’t want him or her representing your company.
4. Monitor the market regularly.
During every stage of your business, keep an eye out for trends among members of your target audience. Are they staying consistent or changing? Staying up-to-date will let you adjust production or marketing accordingly.
In the early days, Apple’s branding was extremely nonconformist. But as the company captured a sizeable portion of the computer market, it became more focused on products that looked good and made people look good while using them.
VW’s core values have remained the same but it has branched out to create vehicles and messaging aimed at at more conservative (the Passat) and safety-focused consumers (Jetta) and environmentally minded individuals (the e-Golf and Jetta Hybrid).
Throughout the years, Volkswagen has proved that designing a company around thoughtful values, effectively communicating them to a target audience and maintaining them over time can drive long-term brand loyalty and growth. So take a page from the VW playbook and prioritize your startup’s brand values.
We all know the stereotype of the Apple fanboy (or girl). It almost doesn’t matter what problems arise with Apple products — or if the competition’s technology is better — Apple fans remain loyal. And, more importantly, they remain rabid defenders and promoters for their favorite brand.
Your company may not be the next Apple, but that’s not to say you can’t cultivate the same kind of loyalty. In fact, it’s crucial that you do, especially during the holidays.
This holiday season, an estimated 66 percent of consumers will shop at their favorite retailers as opposed to branching out to try new stores. Forty-four percent will purchase gifts from brands they’re loyal to, and 42 percent will go even further and use loyalty points to make purchases. With those kinds of numbers, it’s obvious why building brand loyalty is important.
Luckily, it’s not too late — even this far into the holiday season.
How to Build Brand Loyalty Right Now
It may be halfway through December, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on building brand loyalty this season. While tons of people shop at their favorite stores during the holidays, plenty are looking for unique gifts they may not consider buying at other times throughout the year. This is the perfect time to motivate your current customers to start promoting your brand to their friends and family.
Loyal customers can be your holiday brand advocates. In fact, they’re the people who might be the most successful at encouraging others to spend their holiday budgets on your products. So it only makes sense to target these people by adding some influencer marketing strategies to your holiday marketing campaign. By starting the relationships now, you’re encouraging these customers to stay loyal throughout the new year.
Here’s how you can maximize your influencers this holiday season:
1. Know your influencers. Just like you need to know your target customer, you must know your target influencers. Look at the people who are already talking about you on social media or blogs. Who are they? What else do they like, and what influences them? Then, determine what kind of influencers you hope to recruit for your campaign.
Figure out their personalities so you can better understand what would motivate them to advocate for you. One way to achieve this is to monitor their sentiments and personality through persona segmentation, which breaks down influencer characteristics, similar to the sample analysis below. For example, one influencer might value green living, while another is daring and nonconformist. You can then segment your influencer messages based on those unique characteristics.
2. Develop a theme. The holidays are a great time to create fun and exciting themes to help spread your promotions. For example, a common holiday-themed hashtag is #stockingstuffers. If you’re a brand that sells a product that would be a great stocking stuffer, you might consider making this your campaign theme and targeting influencers who use the hashtag regularly.
The everyday influencer below is a good example: a stay-at-home mom with a large social following who loves social media and consistently promotes #stockingstuffers. Companies that sell small, unique gadgets or holiday goodies might look for similar micro influencers to help promote their products as stocking stuffers through the holidays.
Last year, Topshop created a “personalized gift guide” theme during its “Dear Topshop” campaign. Users pinned Topshop products on Pinterest as a way to help others find the perfect holiday gift or party outfit while earning a chance to win a great prize. The retailer’s products ended up all over Pinterest, garnering more followers and regular customers.
3. Think outside your vertical. Anyone can be an influencer. With that in mind, why not reach outside your core vertical and target people you may not normally consider?
For example, if you’re in the food industry, you might target influencers in wine, cooking, recipes, or restaurants. Once again, you might discover some really influential people with loyal audiences who would be more than willing to mention your brand.
4. Make it worthwhile. While some brands already have loyal followers who will buy and promote products without much incentive, this isn’t the time to assume that you fall under that category. Like Topshop did in 2013, you should make the act of promoting your brand fun and intuitive. Women were already pinning beautiful clothes to Pinterest, but Topshop made it valuable to pin their clothes over competitors’ by hosting a fun contest that rewarded the influencers.
When you reward those who promote your brand — through the use of both tangible and intangible rewards — your influencers will provide you more value in return.
5. Create a tracking system for your influencers. Data should drive every decision you make this holiday season. The more you know about your campaigns, the more accurately you can judge your ROI. So figure out who your favorite influencers are or who can offer the most value to your brand based on your objectives, then consistently nurture those relationships and measure your results.
The holidays are one of the most beneficial times to build brand loyalty — whether that’s through a unique shopping experience, good customer service, or loyalty programs. But the best way to differentiate your brand and build a loyal year-round following is through influencer marketing. Believe me, it’s never too late.
Start your Influencer campaign now using the Mattr app.
Few iPhone users would identify “hedonism” (or the pursuit of pleasure) as a core value in their lives, but when you look at the sentiments behind Apple’s marketing strategy for the past 30 years, you might not be so quick to disagree. This extremely human core value is a key factor in Apple’s success today, despite the fact that the company based its marketing on entirely different values when it first began.
The unmitigated success of Apple’s products and its ability to shift values over the years are clear indicators of what we already know to be true: Apple lives and breathes values-based marketing, and so should your business.
Irresistible Marketing Speaks to Values
If you’re new to values-based marketing, you should familiarize yourself with Schwartz’s circumplex model of values. This model organizes human values into one system that can help you pinpoint the most effective way to market your products. The values outlined in the Schwartz model, such as hedonism, stimulation, and self-direction, make up a new wave of suspiciously successful values-based marketing.
Values-based marketing is so effective because values, unlike beliefs, are not just static ideas. Rather, when values are activated, they become infused with deep feeling. Marketing that taps into this relationship between belief and action ignites a powerful desire to act within consumers.
How to Activate Consumers Through Values-based Marketing
Long-lasting, high-profile success isn’t just a matter of creating the perfect product. It’s a matter of speaking to the right values from the get-go and then allowing those values to shift as your target market and company’s products mature.
Here are three powerful lessons from Apple on values-based marketing:
1. Make the unnecessary necessary
What are the top five apps on your iPhone? They aren’t saving lives, that’s for sure. Yet people like you and I account for 150 million iPhones sold in 2013 alone. You don’t need the iPhone 6, but you want it—desperately.
Selling a product that people want is as simple as providing an opportunity for your customers to fulfill their need for stimulation, power, self-direction, or another dominant value. Tap into these values with your branding and advertising, and your market’s “want” for the product will bubble uncontrollably.
2. Make your product a values statement
How you appeal to your target market through values must align with that target market at the right time of your company’s lifecycle. In 1984, Apple believed that non-conformist messages would appeal to its target market. Once Apple’s products were more accepted by the mainstream, the marketing message shifted to more hedonistic values.
This shift in values can be risky. You have to recognize your competition’s approach and comprehensively analyze the macroeconomic environment to be successful.
3. Shift your offering as values shift
Despite its runaway success, there’s a reason Apple isn’t still playing that old “1984” commercial. Today, consumer values are rapidly shifting toward hedonism and stimulation.
Instead of gathering around the table, my family often eats dinner in front of a laptop or tablet, taking the latest BuzzFeed quiz or binge-watching “The Walking Dead” on Netflix. Those who value tradition over non-conformism and hedonism would be horrified, but they aren’t Apple’s target market.
Think about the pleasure you get from downloading a new app or hearing a great new song (curated by Apple’s recent acquisition, Beats Music). Apple’s obsession with hardware, visual design, and simplicity reinforces its dedication to make its product and presentation beautiful to use, look at, and hold, which appeals to the values of its current market.
What do you think are some of the most important consumer values?
What do you think of Apple’s approach?