6 TOP MARKETING STRATEGIES YOU CAN LEARN FROM FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES
Wouldn’t it be nice to have direct access into the marketing strategies of some of the top companies in the world?
Wouldn’t it be nice to take a sneak peak into the strategic marketing plans of companies like Google, Coca-Cola or Starbucks?
Unfortunately however, this is not entirely possible due to the fact that most companies have strict confidentiality agreements and keep this information tightly under wraps.
But, what we have been able to do is study, research and analyse some of the top companies in the world to see what makes them stand out from the crowd.
Sure, some of them have visionary leaders running the show, others have huge budgets and some just struck it lucky with a viral campaign.
But after sifting through all of the companies, we noticed a few common threads. (And yes, we’re more open, so, we are going to share them with you…)
These common threads include: the way the brand presents themselves, the way the brand responds to consumers and the way the brand stays true to their values and mission.
What was also surprising about these common threads is that they can truly be adopted by all businesses, whether big and small.
Yes, believe it or not, these techniques are not just for companies with multi-million dollar marketing budgets.
Of course, the scale that they can be adopted may be different depending on your brands budget, human capital and resources, however it is absolutely possible to take a leaf out of the book of some of the greatest, top Fortune 500 companies in the world.
After all, if you don’t start acting big and preparing for big, how will you ever expect your company to grow big?
We have narrowed down some of the top marketing habits from some of the biggest companies in the world and we believe that these habits can easily be adopted by your business in order to dominate the market and stand out from the crowd.
Remember, being a big company is not just about making sales, it is also about making an impact and a lasting impression in the minds of your consumers.
Here are 6 of the top marketing strategies found in Fortune 500 companies from Coca-Cola, Apple to Nike and others:
1. Coca-Cola: Brand Consistency
Studies from around the world have shown that Coca-Cola is one of the most well known brands in the world. Their red and white logo is recognised in countries all around the world and people identify their brand with feeling good and staying refreshed.
So how is it that Coca-Cola created such a recognisable brand? The answer is simple, they have kept their brand identity and product consistent for over 130 years.
Even though the company has been around for years, their logo has stayed relatively the same and their marketing slogans and taglines have continued to promote the same message.
It is this level of consistency for over 130 years that has made Coca-Cola one of the biggest brands in the world.
Today, Coca-Cola owns a huge percentage of the beverage market and has numerous products under different names and brands, however their most popular product, the infamous, iconic can of Coke, has remained relatively untouched.
This just goes to show that when it comes to developing a recognisable and popular brand, consistency can go a very long way.
Still not convinced? Think of it this way.
Coca-Cola spends an estimated $4.3 billion on marketing and advertising every year. The company has all the power in the world to marketing in whichever way they choose.
However, year after year, time and time again, the company favors consistency and this is what has paid off for them in the long run.
The mistake that many business owners and marketers seem to make is a lack of consistency when it comes to their marketing and brand development.
It can be all too tempting to change logos, rebrand and follow the latest shiny new tricks, however will they really pay off in the long run?
Maybe there is something to Coca-Cola remaining the conservative, consistent marketers that they are. Maybe there is something to remaining sure about your brands image and identity and committing all the way to the end.
2. Apple: Creating a Movement
Apple did not fall into success over night. For anyone who has followed the story of the company, they would know that Apple had many road blocks to navigate through before making it to the top of their game.
The one thing that helped Apple on it’s race to the top however, was their ability to create a movement. This movement helped the brand to create a cult like following that over the years, has stood the test of time.
In all of their marketing efforts, Apple have not just showcased their products but they have also created the image that their products are visionary and life changing.
Sure they have developed some amazingly advanced technologies, however in order to get average people excited by this, they have created beautiful, aesthetically pleasing gadgets that are not just for tech nerds.
Their marketing has also helped to convey this by making people feel as if they need their products in order to enhance their life in some way.
They have worked hard to win over consumers and have created a tribe of followers who are consistently excited about every product and every new announcement.
Even though there are now many competing brands with similar technology like Microsoft or Samsung, it is Apple products that people line up overnight for, it is Apple products that make headlines in the news.
Creating this type of fandom does take a few special ingredients, however it is definitely possible for all businesses to try and emulate.
Firstly, your brand must have an innovative and awesome product that can easily be integrated into people’s lives. Even if it is a new product it doesn’t matter, as long as there is way you can market it as something people or businesses can’t live without.
Once you have been able to identify what makes your product or service so awesome, you have to market it in a simple and thought-provoking way.
Look at Apple’s ads for instance. There is nothing fancy about them, they are simple, clear and create a feeling of being part of something ultra modern and ultra innovative.
On top of that you also have to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Remember, to develop a tribe that is going to follow your brand, you have to make them absolutely fall in love with what you are offering.
Here are some suggestions to make people fall in love with your brand and to create a following:
- Offer lots of valuable and free information that your demographic really wants to read
- Stand out from your competitors by listening to customers
- Present your products and services in an appealing and aesthetic way
- Stand for something so those who agree with you can follow along
- Create unparalleled customer service experiences (just look at what Apple did with the Genius Bar)
- Be original and consistent
3. Colgate: Creates Trust
Rather than just shoving their products down people’s throats, Colgate has taken a very different approach over the years and has chosen to educate consumers instead.
This strategy has helped the brand to not only sell tubes of toothpaste but to also become one of the leading and most trusted toothpaste products in the world.
In marketing there are a few ways to promote trust, but nothing is more effective than educating customers and proving just how your product can work to benefit your consumers.
As part of Colgate’s marketing strategy they started an Oral Care Center, which is packed with information and videos on oral care and hygiene. They also share valuable information with consumers on how to brush and floss effectively and how to prevent the development of cavities and oral diseases.
This strategy may seem obvious for a toothpaste brand, however any business can adopt this strategy and make it work for them.
Most consumers love receiving free information and learning about things that impact their lives or the lives of those around them. To replicate this strategy for your business, think about what your consumers really want to know and what information would make their lives easier.
It may also be beneficial to think about how your products can help to solve the problems of your consumers and how you can tie this in with the information you are offering as well.
Studies have also shown that when you offer something of value to your consumers for free, they are more likely to order from you in the future and are more likely to recommend your brand.
Colgate may have a multi-million dollar marketing budget to make spiffy videos and create content, however all you really need to do is go into the minds of your consumers and deliver to them what they really want.
With even the smallest budget you can create blogs, eBooks, videos, emails and even e-courses which can all help to educate your customers, generate long term relationships and build trust.
4. Starbucks: Social Strategy
80 percent of Fortune 500 companies are active on Twitter. What does that tell you?
Having a strong social media presence is imperative if you want to take your business to the next level.
Social media is important as it helps to establish brand identity, authority and trust. It also helps consumers to engage with your brand on a more intimate level, which helps to develop stronger relationships over time.
Starbucks is the perfect example of a business that is crushing it when it comes to social media. They are clued in and tapped in with what their fans want and run a hugely successful Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account.
There are a few reasons that Starbucks is so successful on social media and some of our favourites include-
- Their clever use of videos, .gif’s and images on their feed
- Their custom images that go along with their tweets
- That they actually respond back to followers, especially on Twitter
- That they are up to date with current events and use them to their marketing advantage
- Their creation of several unique hashtags that have gone viral
Starbucks also run promotions and competitions through their social media platforms and many have gone on to be viral sensations around the web.
Most recently, Starbucks became a trending news topic over their red Christmas coffee cups. This was of course no accident, and was a highly orchestrated social media campaign that just happened to go viral.
Starbucks definitely spends a huge portion of their marketing budget on social media and has teams of people to help organise and orchestrate everything, however there is still room for your smaller brand to learn from them.
Running successful social media is not necessarily about thinking of some grand scheme to get people hooked (like red Christmas cups). Rather, it is about making connections with your fans and offering them more of what they are looking for.
Chances are you have helped build your brand from the ground up, you know what has made it successful and you know what your customers are looking for.
Using this to your advantage, craft a social feed that reflects your support and dedication towards your fans, as well as your knowledge in your industry.
This includes sharing articles and images and responding to comments, tweets and messages. Combine all of this with some soft entertainment value and some frequent promotions and you will be well on the way to creating a solid social presence.
5. Whole Food Market: Stand for Something
When Whole Foods first came onto the market there was really nothing like it. Their strategy was to offer one thing and to offer it well, and this has really been the hallmark of their success.
Many marketers and business owners get caught up in the idea of trying to please everyone or to be a part of everything, but this can often end in disaster and can leave your brand directionless.
Whole Foods came on to the scene with one goal in mind- to offer consumers access to clean, thoughtfully-sourced, organic foods, and they have never wavered from this promise.
Today, Whole Foods competes with many other brands that have also adopted some of their strategies and philosophies however, one of the main reasons that they have been able to hold their ground is because of their deeply rooted philosophy.
Whole Foods has made promises to their consumers about where their food comes from and has created benchmarks that many competing brands just cant catch up to. They also appeal to conscious consumers who are interested in supporting their brand for no other reason other than they feel as if it is the right thing to do.
No matter what you buy from Whole Foods, people automatically feel that they are making a “healthier” choice due to the image the brand has created.
In order to replicate this in your own company, your brand must stand for something. Maybe it is clean food, maybe it is integrity or maybe it is impeccable customer service. Whatever it is, your brand must stand for it and it must not waver from it.
Standing up for humanitarian causes is also a great way to appeal to customers and makes customers feel good about purchasing your products and services.
In fact a recent study also showed that millennial consumers prefer to purchase from companies that are supporting a good cause and are giving back to the community in some way.
Just like Whole Foods supports local farmers and fair trade agreements that benefit the community, your brand can do the same in order to enhance your image and to get more people on board with your products or services.
6. Nike: Sell a Story
Just like Colgate offers consumers beneficial information, Nike offers consumers information but of a different kind. For every new pair of runners, for every new bit of technology, Nike offers a story not just product specs.
Even on their main homepage, Nike paints a story about some of their famous shoes and the journey they have taken from idea to conception. Nike sells the story, which in turn helps to sell their products and your brand can do the same.
Every product or service that you offer has some kind of story and if you can get creative enough, you may be able to turn that story into something powerful for your brand.
Think about the most interesting facets of your brand and what your demographic may find interesting.
It may simply be some behind the scenes photos, or maybe it is a blog post about how you have helped clients and other brands. It doesn’t have to be something grand or tear-jerking, customers simply want to find something in your products or services that they can relate to.
Whatever you choose, know that creating a story is far more powerful than just selling a product.
Writing a blog or using social media tools like Instagram, is also a great way to paint a visual story of your brand. Out of all the Fortune 500 companies, Nike has one of the strongest presences on Instagram and they use the platform in a very clever way.
They promote strength and fitness, they promote health, they promote things that are so much bigger than just a pair of runners.
This indirect style of marketing is what gets consumers interested in a brand or product and it is also what keeps them following along with the story. This ultimately helps to keep your brand fresh in their mind.
As Roger Martin states in the Harvard Business Review-
“Good Marketing and good strategy are both about making choices that build and maintain a particular set of capabilities that enable the company to outperform its competitors.”
You may not have the marketing budget of Apple or Coca-Cola, but when you work with your strengths and create an effective marketing strategy that is consistent, innovative and true to your brand, there is no reason why you can’t be on your way to the top 500.
To be successful in marketing it all starts with having a solid strategy that supports the growth and development of your business.
Start by thinking about your strengths and what you can truly offer consumers.
How can you enrich their lives and how can you make them fall in love with your products or services?
Following in the footsteps of the Fortune 500 companies highlighted above, your brand can very easily be on its way to developing a strong marketing strategy that yields positive results.
Think about where you can-
- Maintain consistency in your branding efforts in order to make your logo and taglines more recognisable.
- Create a movement with your brand by offering consumers the chance to be part of something innovative and “life-changing.”
- Build trust with your consumers by offering valuable information and additional benefits other than just the products or services that you offer. This can be done through competitions, ebooks, videos and more.
- Integrate social media into your marketing strategy and work on developing a strong social presence.
- Make sure your business stands for something and try to be an active participant in your community.
- Sell a story rather than just the specs of your product or services using social media or a blogging platform.
There are many things your business can learn from those who have been there and done that. Why not take the time to research some of your most loved and valued brands and see if you can emulate some of their strategies into your own company marketing model.
Finally, it may be worthwhile noting that 429 of the original Fortune 500 companies listed in 1955 are no longer in business today. This just goes to prove that in order to make your business and marketing strategy successful in the long run, it has to be adaptable and open to changing along with the market.
Still need help getting your marketing strategy off the ground? Feel free to chat with us here.
Reference and Credits: King Kong Blog