As a marketing professional, I enjoy seeing large brands have fun and break away from corporate norms. Take Wendy's for example, which is known for its saucy Twitter persona, or Mailchimp which uses memes and business discourse on its TikTok. Both companies inject humor and personality into their social media presence. Many others have found their own groove.
The reality is that most large brands, especially B2B, are bound by strict corporate marketing guidelines. They carefully follow the rules, which can result in bland websites, stiff messages and content that's out-of-date or completely misses its mark.
The tactics that I've seen some of the digital trailblazers use to promote themselves, attract and engage followers and build a loyal customer base are in stark contrast.
I've seen first-hand how creators create their brands through sharing their passion and skills in raw, unfiltered content that is compelling. They can monetize small, but highly engaged audiences without the ties of larger companies. It's high time that big brands started paying attention.
It's important that large companies take a step into this world. Otherwise, they'll be left behind in a sea mediocrity. It's not necessary to hire a creator in chief (though some brands do) to mimic creator content and approaches. You can get started with these four steps:
Be a teacher who is trustworthy
There's a common thread that connects the hundreds of thousand creators marketing their business: Sharing knowledge freely feeds customers' needs and keeps them coming. B2B companies have already prioritized content marketing that is educational.
Creators have taken it a step farther to leverage the power of education for growth -- they've created courses, built communities and leveraged their skills and experiences in more structured and lucrative ways. Our research shows that microlearning has become more popular, and that people are seeking short-term courses taught by trusted teachers in order to enhance their life and career.
Brands such as Hootsuite and Shopify have taken advantage of this trend to create online learning academies. They are able to meet the demand for self-paced training options. Like creators, these brands are discovering that their approach allows for new revenue streams and increased customer loyalty.
Playful and cuteness is not a bad thing
We sent all emails in the voice and tone of Owly, our mascot. Cuteness is a human response, according to research. When we decided to expand our marketing strategy and target an enterprise audience we re-thought using Owly’s voice. We decided, in the end, that an owl with a cheeky personality, no matter how sage, would not be appropriate for enterprise clients.
The decision seemed right at the time. If I were to do it again, I'd choose the owl. Playfulness is important and effective in today's marketing. Humans are behind even enterprise brands. Humans also enjoy levity.
There are situations where playing is inappropriate. In 2023, marketing must be memorable, fun, and personable. The creators of today are experts at this. They know how to use viral memes and videos, or quirky, self-deprecating videos, as well as cultural hot takes.
Show some humanity
Traditional marketing teams wouldn't include their children, partners, or pets in campaigns. But for many creators like Brandon Doerksen who runs the Thrive training Institute or Sunny Lenarduzzi who teaches online business building, this is often the norm. It's how they run their business. And it's what makes creator marketing so compelling: it is human and relatable.
Brands that cater to B2B audiences often adopt the opposite strategy: they remove all traces humanity from their content, or, worse, force a human voice on their brand, which can come across as false or deceptive. This has been made worse by the generative AI. According to studies, customers are more likely to trust and be loyal to brands that they can relate to.
Make your content human by focusing on the people behind your brand. This can be done through employee profiles, customer testimonials and thought pieces from leaders. Let your audience know your team members.
Test the water by jumping on trending topics
Agile creators are a rare breed. Creators are often the first to adopt new technologies and tools, and they launch products and content despite any imperfections. Software developers also use this approach: they launch beta products and learn as they go.
Big brands have a harder time achieving this level of agility. This is something I have been pushing for many years and it feels uncomfortable. We used this method to create a webinar about Threads, a new social network that was launched shortly after. It helped creators get familiar with it. In just a few weeks, we created a 40-page AI for Creators Report. We knew that we could not wait to implement these two trends.
Marketers need to be agile in a fast-paced digital marketing environment. Hiring people you can trust and whose judgment and skills you respect is a big part of this. You need to give them some guidelines and a license to work quickly. Otherwise, you'll be in a bind.
You don't have to follow every trend. Choose one that is relevant to your audience and feel how it feels when you channel your inner creative! The water is warm, I assure you.