How to build your brand with digital marketing

By, Peter Watson, MD of Distract

How to build your brand

If I was to say to you that this is the most interesting thing you’ll read all day, you won’t believe me. It’s the same in marketing; just because you say how great your product is, people won’t buy it. But, if you genuinely find something interesting and helpful then it’s a different story.

I first learned this when I was 16 years old and working at a company selling car radios. As the first YouTube influencers were starting to make a fortune online, I decided to make a series of video guides for a range of different car radios. People seemed to really appreciate the videos which quickly got thousands of views. This gave me the idea of opening my own online shop selling some of the car radios from my videos. Partway through each video, I’d explain that viewers could buy them from my shop or get them cheaper at one of the big retailers. Amazingly, people bought them from my shop because they appreciated my help and they liked my videos.

Little did I know, I’d been building a brand: People liked my videos, they trusted my opinions and felt that led them to visiting my shop and buying car radios from me.

Fast forward seven years and that same principle is helping companies drive up sales far more effectively than traditional advertising messages ever could.

If you’re trying to build up your own brand, the key thing is to forget about what you know about advertising and instead, you should focus on delivering content.

In 1981 MTV transformed how the music industry advertises its products and it enabled artists to establish brands in ways they never had before. It offered them a platform on which they could show high quality music videos for free. Many artists thought this was ridiculous at first, but some did and it paid off massively. They found that by giving people content built up their brands. People could identify with the musicians, they appreciated the quality of their music videos and that translated into record sales and brand loyalty.

You can be entertaining, helpful, informative or make a statement people can identify with and put your content online for free. You’ll be surprised by the results.

As I’ve said, brand is about identity. It’s no accident that lots of adverts you see at the moment barely feature the product they’re selling. Instead, they focus on a lifestyle that they want to associate their brand with. You need to find out how your target audience identify themselves and make it clear that your brand is the same as them.

One of our clients is a gourmet marshmallow brand and when they first approached us, they gave us a small budget and told us to crack on and so what we liked. Our plan was to film people giving out marshmallows to people on the street and we used it to make three different adverts for Valentine’s Day. We made one with men giving marshmallows to men, women giving them to women and men and women giving them to each other. These videos were shared on social media and we used Facebook Ads to reach our target demographic. The adverts worked extremely well, selling thousands of marshmallows because people identified with the brand and formed a connection with it.

People are a crucial part of branding because business is all about people, so instead of relying on your company to present itself, you should let people communicate with people. For example, if you’re trying to position yourselves as experts, you should get the experts on your team to be in the videos sharing their expertise. Our clients are buying our expertise and we need to demonstrate to them that we really do know what we’re talking about, and it’ll be the same for your business.

Why being an early adopter pays off

Every now and then, a new service comes along which changes the game and creates new opportunities for reaching people. Whenever this happens, you should be quick to embrace the platform and use it to deliver quality content to build your brand.

Within three years of MTV launching, Madonna’s music videos for Borderline, Lucky Star and Like a Virgin had made her into an idol. Her willingness to embrace a new medium early made her a superstar and it’s been the same story for all the modern platforms which have taken off in recent years..

In 2000, Google launched Adwords and the company which spent the most on the platform between 2002 and 2008 is now one of the biggest companies in the world: Amazon.

One of the first companies to use Facebook’s ad platform which launched in 2007 was Zynga, which now has the largest poker site in the world, making around two billion pounds per year.

Basically, if a social media or web platform does something new, you should use it.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google all add weight to their new products to help them take off so if you react quickly and think about how your brand could fit with their new product, you can make serious gains. A few months later, once those products become more established, they won’t be nearly as effective unless you pay the platform to promote your content, so you have to be quick.

Instagram Stories and IGTV are the latest big new products that people need to embrace now. They’re currently very underpriced for the potential they have to help you build a brand and they’re new formats which will change how people engage with other social media. Just a few months after Instagram Stories took off, they’ve brought the same format to Facebook, soon enough all the other platforms will have similar products and each one will be an opportunity for businesses.

Marketing and remarketing

Another major power of modern marketing comes from remarketing.

Remarketing is a great technique that’s possible through Facebook advertising. In short, it enables us to follow up on an advert or a visit to a website with a more targeted message which is directed to the individual. We can start out with an advert that gets seen by a fairly broad demographic, but once someone watches the video or clicks through to the website, we can then target them with follow up adverts.

For one client, we hosted a video Facebook Live that encouraged people to comment in order to win a prize, which is a pretty common strategy these days. What was more unusual was our use of remarketing to target the people who had watched the video with a follow-up advert which said “Don’t worry if you didn’t win, here’s 20% off everything”. We knew that these people were interested in the product and they had built up a connection with the brand, and so thousands of them went back to the website and bought marshmallows because we’d approached them a second time.

Remarketing is a very simple but effective tool for keeping your brand in people’s minds. You can use it to reward customers who’ve bought from you, you can use to to target people more effectively and you can use it to deliver more content.

If you visit my company website, we’ll start using Facebook to send you targeted adverts for our company for several days afterwards. It sounds creepy, but it really does work, especially if those adverts are helpful bits of content, rather than your typical advert. This means that, from your visit to our website, you know who we are, and from our remarketing you know we’re good at what we do and, crucially, you appreciate us and our team.

Remarketing isn’t difficult to set up, every business, big or small should be able to use it to build up a brand.

While all of these principles are straightforward, you should be aware that there is no magic pill that will instantly help you generate more sales. There’s no one thing you can do which will suddenly mean you can reach thousands of new customers and drive up sales, but if you’re using social media and remarketing to deliver content and build your brand, you’re on the right track.

Good marketing takes time, it has to be right for the business and you have to get involved and explore the opportunities. It might feel frustrating to be using your marketing budget on giving out free advice when you’d rather be getting to the point and saying “buy our products and services”, but once your brand starts to build relationships, your marketing will really take off. Brand should always be your long term goal.