Community Powered Marketing Ep. 4: What It Takes To Develop A Winning Brand ft: Anne Candido
Each one of your customers is a human being, and as such, they tend to make decisions based more on emotion than logic.
In fact, it’s estimated that 90% of decisions are based on emotion, with the remaining 10% coming from the practical and logical side. Despite this, many brands continue to focus on that 10% in their marketing efforts, which often limits the impact they can have on their audiences.
You’ll hear why “branding” is, in reality, a business philosophy that leads to growth and why it’s a vital concept for businesses to embrace.
You’ll learn why so many brands fail to consider the 90% of decisions that are fueled by emotion.
You’ll discover the value of using testing and learning to gauge reactions, make changes, and develop an ROI that you can reasonably predict and then scale.
You’ll also learn how large brands are looking to the entrepreneurial world to make much-needed shifts in their culture.
Join Sue and Anne as they explore the power of “brand” as a noun rather than a verb, and why businesses must learn how to shift from a transactional mindset to a relational one.
About Our Guest
Anne Candido, Co-Founder, Forthright People
Anne grew up at P&G over the span of 20 years, spending her first decade in R&D and Product Development and her second in Brand Marketing and Communications. Through this, Anne learned the imperative role brand building plays to cultivate successful individuals and businesses. Today she brings this expertise to Forthright People to help brands reach their brand-love potential.
“…You really, especially in this day and age, need to let your consumers or your customers know the impact you plan to have on their life. And this impact is that emotional connection that generates what I call a “brand love connection” that only you authentically can deliver so that also helps you drive differentiation in the marketplace.”
“You are listening to Community Powered Marketing podcast. The podcast dedicated to empowering marketers to unlock the sales potential of their audience through an online brand community. At a time of seismic change, we’ve seen community become the single most important tool to drive customer acquisition, retention and sales and companies that understand how to leverage community powered marketing are really uniquely positioned to disrupt their industry and dominate their market. So, each week, we will help you discover how to cultivate your community, mobilize your brand evangelists and how to build a game-changing relationship with your most valuable consumers. Your audience is waiting. I am your host Sue Frech, CRO of TINT —The first-of-its-kind Community Powered Marketing platform for brands.”
Sue: Hello and welcome to Community Powered Marketing Podcast. I am Sue Frech and I am your host. This is the place for you to come listen to stories, ideas, brilliant ideas, strategies from marketers and brand leaders that I have connected with over the years and I really try to help you look at it through the lens of brand community building. So, we will cover a wide range of topics and today I have a guest that has her own podcast that is really committed to cutting through all of the confusing marketing BS, so that you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. Anne Candido, who grew up at P&G. Her path was anything but traditional, she has been in R&D and product development, brand marketing, communications. Anne learned, as she says sometimes the hard way, the imperative role brand building plays to cultivate successful individuals in businesses. So, until we are all robots, and I love this and she covers this in the podcast, the person on the other side of the sale is actually a human. So whether it’s B2B or B2C, there is an actual human on the other side. So that means a brand’s ability to transform life in order to create this authentic relationship, that alone will continue to be really paramount for growth and that is what Anne describes as brand love. Her mission is to help all businesses and the individuals within them realize their brand love potential and I think that is why you will find this podcast so exciting today because we’ve got some great topics that sometimes are just overlooked and we’re going to look at them through the lens of community, so thanks for joining me.
Sue: So, Anne I am so excited to speak with you, as you know you are one of my favorite marketers and welcome to the show.
Anne: Thanks for having me back Sue. I am so glad to be back.
Sue: I love it! So, we are actually going to cover a really wide range of marketing topics that are covered in your podcast, Marketing Smarts. And for anybody listening, I highly recommend that they check out your podcast that you host with your business partner April Martini. You know that my goal is to help community marketers or those interested in brand community building, really see your advice, your recommendations, your wisdom all through the lens of community. We found that brands that have a brand-owned community or integrate their brand community into their overall marketing strategy actually have a stronger, more authentic connection with their customers, they can gain things like faster insights and drive increased advocacy, word of mouth, and build emotional loyalty: All the things that you and I have spoken about many times. In short, we know that a brand community can actually elevate all of your marketing, so that’s why I was so excited to have you on because you just have this wealth of information across different marketing building blocks. So, what I thought we would do is just talk a little bit about your Podcast and I picked a couple of topics if that is okay with you, and then we will go through and see how it relates to community. So our first topic is something that I don’t actually think about as often on the forefront. But I love this topic: Utilizing brands. You share in your podcast four tips for utilizing brand to differentiate in a crowded marketplace and how brand is really the starting place for any company to build the right emotionally laid foundations to conduct with their consumers, and again I recommend listeners check it out. But can you just explain what that means for our listeners?
Anne: Absolutely and thank you for that awesome intro. Yeah, brand is the foundation of your business or it should be the foundation of your business. We call it the roots of your business tree, if you will, and that is because it really solidifies why you exist in the marketplace and what kind of impact you plan to have. So a lot of times people will use this opportunity to basically talk about what they do. Yes, you need to let people know what you do, but you really, especially in this day and age, need to let your consumers or your customers know the impact you plan to have on their lives and this impact is that emotional connection that then generates what I call a “brand love connection” that only you authentically can deliver, so that also helps you drive differentiation in the marketplace. We put price tags on things and services. I mean that is what we “believe” we sell, but really what we sell is that emotional impact, that is where the value is driven and that is what is going to continue to keep you connected with your customer on a long-term basis.
Sue: And this makes so much sense and I am sure it makes sense for people listening and it is probably something we have learned at some point in our lives, whether at school or in our career, but when you explain it, it is crystal clear. So, why then do you think all marketers aren’t using this strategy or putting brand first?
Anne: I think there is a couple of reasons. One is that I think they fundamentally just don’t get that 90% of decisions are emotionally led. And if you really think about that and embrace that, that actually opens up your mind to a whole new different space and I find that it is a really big “aha” for people. And so a lot of people and a lot of businesses will concentrate on that 10% and that 10% is your more cerebral practicality of price and availability, like those things that we tend to think about when we are thinking about marketing and sales. But really it is the emotional reaction that initially gets people to consider you and then want to choose you, and that is something that takes a lot more fundamental understanding and insight-based development in order to really execute in that emotionally led way. So I think that is one reason. The other thing is a lot of people use brand as a noun and not a verb. You know I’ve talked about this a lot and that the difference between what a brand really connotates for a business and the opportunity develops first as a thing that a brand can be. So for example, when I say “brand”, a lot of people are like “I have a logo, I have colors, I have a tagline, I have a social medial channel, I am a brand”. And what you and I talked about at that time was that: No, a brand is only a brand if it can answer three fundamental questions, which are: “Who am I, why am I different, and why did the customer or the consumer want me?” That is a verb. That is a philosophy. And so branding is really a business philosophy that leads to growth, and if you can’t understand that and really embrace that, then you really struggle with “why do I need a brand, what is a brand, and what is the brand going to do for me?”
Sue: Oh my gosh…I love that. I love the cerebral part of it, and just understanding the 10% versus the 90%. I think for listeners, and even myself, you know, just understanding and getting those three fundamental questions answered is a great starting point. So how do you think having a brand-owned community and an online community would elevate how a marketer can leverage brand to differentiate or to sell more products or to develop that emotionally-led connection with their customers?
Anne: It is the essence of the branding philosophy right? So, when you are developing that community, you are developing a bunch of brand ambassadors and brand advocates for which you can then market to. So your marketing is really direct and it allows you to refine your brand and your brand principles in a way that continues to build that connection, that brand love, and it allows them to have something to go out and then evangelize on your behalf. Within that brand community, that is the critical difference: It becomes something that is not just transactional. It becomes something that is relational and the relational part within that community is what spreads like wildfire, right? That’s what the vibe becomes in that community and it starts becoming a living breathing thing that then your brand is really in sponsorship of.
Sue: You just made me think of something when you said “transactional versus relational”, and I am going to steal that term because I have been hearing from prospects and clients lately that have strong loyalty programs that might talk about non-transactional rewards and I think that is what you are talking about. You have the transactional relationship and then you have that emotionally driven relationship. I love, and obviously support because this is what we do, but I love that community can help facilitate that and certainly be a driver of that, so I am excited for that connection between brand and community. So, I am going to shift now to topic #2, which I love because you know I love product innovation and I know you love innovation as an engineer at heart, and the topic is “Test and Learn”. We are a tech company and I have always talked about in our company that we are working in a agile environment. We have a one to two week sprint, we have this high level roadmap, it’s less detailed and doesn’t actually have dates on purpose. And people say, “Why…How is that even a roadmap?” Because it allows us to be flexible, it allows us to make changes, it allows us to build MVPs, and then change. As the market changes, the clients change, we can move so quickly, which again is that flexibility in that process, and I am finding more marketers, particularly the smaller or start-up brands that we work with in CPG companies, there are so many great food brands and beauty brands that are launching, that they have this ability to be agile. And they want their marketing and their planning to be agile. You know, when I look back, especially in the pandemic, you never know what is going to be thrown in your way. So then there are other brands where everything is planned out and they don’t really leave any room for making changes or doing that “Test and Learn” methodology with no budget to try new things. So I would love from your perspective, with all of your experience in launching products in the CPG world and with all the clients you work with today, can you talk about the “Test and Learn” practice and why it is so important?
Anne Candido: Yeah, for sure. It’s something we preach a lot and it’s for all the reasons you just mentioned. But if I can back up a little bit and really dig into the emotional aspect of what Test and Learn really attributes itself to, it’s alleviating the fear that a lot of brand builders have. It doesn’t matter what level you are in and in whatever business you happen to be in, if you’re an entrepreneur in a corporate environment, there is a tremendous amount of fear. There is a fear of failing, there is a fear of letting people down, there is fear of your reputation being at stake, there is fear that you are going to be looked at, there’s just a tremendous amount of fear. And that’s why everybody in the corporate world kind of senses the fact that they need to plan everything out. It needs to be a process and a cycle and tactics that are “proven” or “supported”. That seems to eliminate a lot of fear. But when you, especially like you said in an entrepreneurial world with a small or mid-sized business and you want to maintain that flexibility, you have to maintain that flexibility in order to be able to address what is going on in your environment. That is not an option. So you have to have a way of being able to place small bets in order to be able to eliminate some of that fear. And that’s what test and learn allows you to do. So testing and learning allows you to come up with a hypothesis based on really well-founded and researched insights, put it into market in a small way so you can kind of gauge the reaction that you are going to get, address any reactions you do get knowing that it could go well or it could not go well, you make changes, and you put it back out there again. Once you achieve a level of confidence that it’s worth the investment and you have a ROI that you can reasonably predict now at that stage, then you scale. So, it maintains, like you said, that flexibility and maintains a level of just seeing what might work without having to sit there and talk ad nauseam about what could work, the hypotheticals of it all. That’s really what the art of it is. We talk about the art of test and learn because there is no such structure for what is going to work for specific businesses because it is so fundamentally linked to your business objectives, your consumer, those consumer insights that are important, and then the channels for which you need to engage your consumer, so that flexibility is super important to just see how your consumer is going to engage in these different venues.
Sue: Yeah and it’s so funny when you look at the different types of businesses and clients and brands that we work with, from large-scale CPG companies down to those startups. I have seen that they are putting in teams that have that entrepreneurial mindset and can do that smaller test and learn and maybe from your experience, I am just curious if you know, when you are such a large corporation, you are launching a big brand, you put all these dollars behind it, is it part of a company’s DNA? Is it going to be difficult if you’re running a business in a certain way and test and learn is not part of it, do you think that it is just the culture of that company and maybe that is also the resistance? And I love hearing you say that really the resistance is that fear, but what do you think about, you know, if someone is wired a certain way as an individual marketer or product developer and if a company is wired a certain way and it has a certain culture, do you think that their DNA can change, can you just give me your thoughts around that?
Anne: Yeah… you hit the nail on the head Sue. I mean, it is a very big cultural dilemma for a lot of companies, especially if you are a longstanding company like the one I came from at a P&G standpoint who prides itself in its ability to predict and then deliver upon certain marketing channels, right? I mean, probably one of the biggest buyers of TV advertising. Although we would say, you know, that is starting to become a lot more obsolete, right? And so it is really hard to shift from that level of knowledge because so much certainty is required in order to execute something new because there is so much riding on the performance of those brands. Certain units and certain categories have more pressure than others. But there are some, I would say among the wise leaders, they understand that an entrepreneurial spirit can be beneficial in order to continue to stimulate new thinking. In order to bring what we would call the “outside in” and in order to maintain some flexibility and in order to continue to keep the pipeline coming and growing. And especially then continue to stay relevant with your consumer and be able to continue to talk to them in a way that they are receptive to, so that is always about the right message at the right time through the right channel. So that does require a culture shift. I think the entrepreneurs get it more readily because it’s just the state of where they are, they don’t have big structures and big teams in support of them. So they need to find a way to be agile, they need to find a way to be fiscally responsible. They more naturally test and learn, although in that case sometimes they don’t know where to start. I think that becomes the dilemma of the smaller businesses. Like, “I don’t know where to start”, whereas the bigger business is like, “this is how we have been doing it forever”. Both have to kind of adjust their test and learn cultures in order to facilitate testing and learning being a good business strategy for both of them. And I think where people start kind of getting a little hesitant is, I mentioned the fear and fear for sure is a big one, but also patience. Patience….people run out of patience so quickly because they want the short-term impact. They want it right now, and they want the impact right now. They do not want to waste their money and those are very real tensions. They have to embrace the fact that test and learn is an iterative process. And that’s very hard for some people to realize when they want to have the impact now. You know you can sometimes generate short-term impact for sure while also planning your long-term growth strategy at the same time. So you have to be really intentional in how you design your test and learning in order to be able to accomplish both.
Sue: Yeah, I find it so interesting. You’ve had so many good things that you’ve said, so I am just trying to work my thoughts around it because it is so exciting for me. I think one of the things that I have noticed also is in some of the big CPG companies is that the brand’s team or lead is off the brand after two years. And I think also they may feel that they have two years to make their mark or do something successful and they may feel, to your point, that they don’t have time, they don’t have patience, they have to have an impact now. And they need upper management support because they don’t have a relationship with maybe their leadership team when they are on a new brand. So I can just see how that patience and fear can really get in the way of driving and stimulating new thinking and new ideas. And not just from a product standpoint from a marketing standpoint too. Testing with new vendors and partners. So I think that there is so much to be said about that patience. And then it actually can reduce your risk. I think that is what I was going to ask you, how does it save a company money? Because I think someone saying, “Oh my God… I am testing and learning all the time and I am not given an opportunity to scale and grow and I get the return”, but you actually talk about how it can save a company money.
Anne: “Yes…it definitely saves the company money in two factors. One is that, and I mentioned this a little bit earlier, is that you could sit in the team and talk ad nauseam about what you should do, could do, would do. And that is actually taking the company’s time and money as well. Because if you’re sitting there hypothesizing and talking about hypothetical situations of what you could do you are actually not doing anything.
Sue: Failure to launch.
Anne: Failure to launch for sure. It’s just that cycle, your ability to be able to put it out there and then just see what happens, and that’s the way that you learn the most is by getting the consumer reaction to what you put out there. So you can eliminate a lot of those discussions and then fast cycle your way through the learning probably faster than trying to get out all the risk before you go do anything. The other way it saves money, a lot of people will tend to opt-in because they see other people doing it, so they’ll opt into big partnerships, big marketing campaigns, big sponsorships, you name it. Because they see an opportunity there to grow their business based on what they’ve seen in the marketplace or seen the competition do. But they haven’t really assessed whether or not it is the right choice for them in their business and making sure that what they do here is going to have that impact and that drive or that emotional connection that they need with their consumer. So it allows you, like I said, to make those smaller bets to fast cycle the learning and you could do that all the way from marketing tactics to product development. It allows you to get your feedback from your consumer quicker, so all of that helps to fast cycle the learning so that when you get to the point of what you can scale you have a lot more confidence in what you are putting out there. So the money is more efficiently spent.
Sue: I love that. And I think, you know, if listeners want to learn more, obviously they can tune in to your podcast on test and learn and the art of remaining resilient and just some ideas and again explain the value of it. So let’s talk about through the lens of community again. Obviously, we build and execute communities and grow communities. Where do you think community fits in with test and learn?
Anne: Yeah, and this is what I really love about the communities you build Sue, that it’s almost like a sandbox, right? You have a bunch of folks who already know and understand and care about your brand and they are attentive because they have opted in and you can test things out with them very very quickly. Then you get the honest reactions based on the action that you have asked them to go take, so if you are asking them to go share something through a mission or a piece of content you can then readily see and measure what they actually did. And then you can also measure the engagement they got on it in a very focused, concentrated environment. So you are not trying to span the whole internet to see how often your hashtag is used, you can see how many people actually follow through on the call to action. So, I find it’s an incredible way to drive even more efficiency because you have those consumers who are already part of what I would call your brand team working on your behalf.
Sue: Yeah…I love that you have, with communities and the brands that we work with that are leveraging for test and learn or innovation, you have this panel, you have this audience that is ready. And when we surveyed members of communities after, one of the things, and we do have a new E-book that is out about telling you the types of motivators and how to motivate consumers and communities, and one of the things they say is being part of the innovation process. So there is that emotional component of it, you don’t have even be them (consumers), you know, they are so excited. We had a client that used their community to name their next fragrance. I think it is just so exciting to close that loop and say “hey, this is what you said, this is the new fragrance and we are so excited that you are part of it”. So I love that piece of it and I love using it as a sandbox…see now I’ve got two words here! Relation and sandbox. I could keep you on for hours!
Sue: Our last topic, and there are so many great topics again on Marketing Smarts so I won’t say it enough, but the last topic is about, and it’s one of my favorites, is content. Today you actually have at least three podcasts that talk about content in one way or another. The one that I was referencing is the 4 attributes of content that drive ROI. Because in working with you, you’ve helped us as a company really, and that is what I appreciate about it, focus and put emphasis on that value we deliver, the business impact at the end of the day, the ROI. But when we think about, you know, no marketer is going to argue content is king. There is no argument there. But when we think about, I think about, and certainly, listeners think about content, what sometimes gets lost is that measurement of content and what is successful content, and that little bit about testing and learning is that as well. So, you know, as a tech company we can say we do a million things, we can provide dozens of services, but how do you measure the results and what does success look like? So, can you just talk about content and that ROI component?
Anne: Yeah, I always boil this down to the fact that a consumer votes with their time and money. So, that’s obviously your goal: To eventually get their time and their money. You have to really define what KPIs are going to lead you there and it is not always a direct measurement because sometimes that can be very hard. Or there might be multiple factors that are influencing that final KPI that leads to time or money. So, for example, we will just take TINT because that is obviously one of the brands that I love and that you work for! So, if you think about what TINT sells, TINT sells digital communities. And you probably have, I would guess a KPI centered around client acquisition. That is a big KPI, right?
Sue: Yes, 100%.
Anne: But…. in isolation that KPI is actually a bit arbitrary because it doesn’t indicate what drivers are going to get you there. So there has to be other drivers that are indicators of how well or how you are going to achieve that KPI of client acquisition. And also to make a little side point here, if I were just going to say client acquisition was my KPI, it’s not quantitative enough and it is not time-bound enough to be actually effective. This is the other thing that fear plays into is that people leave their KPIs open-ended because they don’t want to set up a scenario in which they might fail and not get their KPI. But what that does is that it really gets in the way of getting alignment among your stake orders, which is so critically important because I think “Hey Sue, getting 20% client acquisition is a good metric” and you are like “I don’t know what you are thinking, but we only planned to get 5”. When the whole thing gets said and done over that period of time and just say it was like one year, you are delivering 5 and you are like “we did great” and somebody said, ‘‘what I thought you were doing 20, you didn’t do great,” that is a mis-expectation that becomes a real problem. So, there are ways of being able to manage your KPIs with “ranges” and with “benchmarks” that gets into a whole other different topic because we can talk about KPIs forever. Actually, we are going to do a podcast episode on KPIs I think that will be released in June. So, we definitely hear that is one that people have a lot of questions about. But you may need to drill down then on your KPI and say “Okay, if I wanted to increase my client acquisition by 5% in the year 2021” just say. “What do I need to do in order to deliver that; do I need to get more leads; do I need to close the leads I have?” And that is a strategy call, right? But then within that, that determines what KPIs are going to be the driver. So, if you need to get more leads, you are going to need to have “KPI indicators” of what more leads look like, and you have to kind of continue to drill it down into a point where you can take immediate action against that KPI and be able to measure something directly related to whatever indicator is going to lead to your ultimate goal of client acquisition. Did I go off too much on the rail there?
Sue: Not at all. So I think if I am going to sort of recap from my perspective is that measuring content is no different, you know, and I think that getting lost and not being good at the forefront because, to your point about KPIs, I mean that is the methodology you shared with my team and why we are so focused on it and leveraging that it is not that one ROI metric. It is everything that leads up to it and it’s the drivers of it. How do you increase or decrease? And then we think about content certainly being able to track engagement with it. Again, just going back to each individual brand like making sure that they understand what KPIs and what drivers can affect that positive ROI. So then my question becomes: Who is responsible when we think about creative, for that ROI? Is it the brand? Is it the creative agency? Is it the media agency? Like where they are placing it? You know, do you have any thoughts around that, that component of who owns that ROI?
Anne: Ultimately, the brand owns ROI because they are generally the ones that are the brand owners. So, in that case, the brand needs to do what we advocate for the entire team and that is to brief their team. The brief then articulates the one thing that needs to happen in order for the success to be realized and that one thing could be the generation of a piece of content. Now, it’s up to the whole team to facilitate against that brief, but the brief serves as a place of alignment, like what that one thing needs to be as well as like “budget and timing” and all of those really important factors that we just discussed with regards to measurement are articulated, so that everybody can be on the same page. So, it is a team effort in order to deliver deliverables, but at the forefront, the brand needs to lead the ownership of the ROI.
Sue: I think you have a podcast on briefs as well, is that right? I think there was something, so that is another great one. You know, having like the plan going in, having that strong plan, the accountability, the ownership, so everyone is clear on their roles and I love the clarification at the end of the day; certainly, it is the brands. So, I love this: You talk about content being that ultimate differentiator for the brands and obviously it drives awareness with these increased touchpoints with your consumers and if it is done consistently, you can build creditability, reputation, and trust. That to me aligns so much with what we talk about as one of the main purposes of community. You know, this ability to put relevant content in front of members. The ability to ask for feedback instantaneously about it, to make sure that the content you are putting out aligns with the audience and also your messaging and it’s in your voice. There are just so many components to it. What are your thoughts from a lens of community as it relates to, you know, creating content?
Anne: Again, I think it is a really fabulous place to test out content especially if you are trying to see if what resonates. So, I think it helps to get that immediate feedback, like everything that we talked about from a Test and Learn standpoint. It helps to really establish benchmarks and baselines for your KPIs and then figure out what you are going to measure too, because you made a really good point when we were talking about connecting the KPIs back to the content, that sometimes we just assume there is certain measurements associated with the content we put out. So, if we are putting out something on social, we think it is going to be some level of engagement, like shares, comments, whatever. But what we fail to do sometimes is making sure that whatever I am measuring does lead back to that ultimate goal. For example, if leads is that goal then I should be trying to get as much reach as possible because I want as many eyeballs on it as possible. So, how am I going to generate that and get there? The community really helps you to refine that into a benchmark for success and it also helps you to refine your content before you do scale it to more masses because obviously, you are always wanting to bring new people into the content. And it also helps you see what people resonate with. I think that is super-important when you talk about that emotional connection, is how do they then talk about and share it when they share word of mouth marketing that we talk about being so incredibly important and the gold standard for marketing is what people are going to say about you when you are not there and that is good or bad. So, it could go either way. So, it is a really good testing ground. Again, I use my sandbox analogy in order to really understand all of that.
Sue: I love it. I feel like we can talk all day about the different building blocks of marketing and all of the different topics that you cover in Marketing Smarts on your podcast and I am sorry I had to cut it to three. But I would love an example, you know, you have done such great work over the years; if you just have an example from one of the topics, you know, of a case study or work that you have done with someone that has really been successful with executing one of these strategies.
Anne: Sure, I will use an example of one that we had just recently featured in the podcast. There was a podcast episode that you called out, which is the four tips we are utilizing brand to differentiate in a credit space. In that podcast episode, we had Andy Schneider from Rhinegeist Brewery on our podcast to really bring to life that topic. If you think about beer in general, even craft beer, it’s a commodity. Beer is a commodity and when you have a commodity you need to develop that emotional engagement in order to raise your brand above that space of commodity, which is that 10% decision space, which is usually like price or availability into that emotional space, which is that 90% and when you can do that, you can command higher prices, you get more customers, and you are able to generate more impact and scale more quickly. Rhinegeist has really been the pinnacle for that in the craft beer industry. It’s because they have so intentionally crafted, no pun…. well, pun intended I guess, their brand around being able to build that emotional connection and what they realized and what they taught the craft beer industry is that the differentiation aspect is in the experience. So, if you really look at each one of the craft beer providers and the brands, they all have a different experience from the way that they articulate their can graphics and art to the way that they show up on all their marketing to the way their taproom is designed from a look, tone and feel standpoint. So when you walk in, it is a very consistent experience. So, Rhinegeist did a lot of work in order to understand “what are the signals on my brand experience?” And they went back to their brand character and defined their brand character as easy and edgy. So that is the personality that Rhinegeist is intending to put out there. And from their taproom, which is that localized experience all the way to other social media, to now the way that they are scaling into other markets, that brand character goes with them. That creates unity across the brand, which allows them to scale more quickly. That is that tangible value that I was talking about. Those icons of their brand, like they call it the skull teardrop, become those marks that actually then mean something. When I talked about brand before, you know, when people just think it is a logo and colors, yes, a brand does exhibit all those characteristics in those assets, but it is in the way that they are developed so that they mean something. It’s what becomes the way that the brand connects with its consumer base. So, people know what to expect when they engage with Rhinegeist. They do expect a high-quality beer; everybody makes a high-quality beer. That is table stakes. They expect something else above and beyond that. They expect an experience, they expect the community, they expect that relational connection. That is going to make that brand pivotal in their life, especially for certain moments. You know, and you will see that across the board, so I encourage everybody to take a look at Rhinegeist’s marketing, if you happen to be in the Cincinnati area, you can go into the taproom, you will see something pretty unique from traditional artwork on the walls to the way that they develop, now the COVIDs winding down and they can do more of this, their experiences in the taproom. One day there might be a roller rink in order to be able to launch a new beer SKU. One time they brought in a dinosaur skeleton in combination with the Cincinnati museum here in order to promote Mastodon, one of their other beer SKUs. So, they intentionally cultivate that and because of that, they have been one of the fastest-growing craft breweries in the country.
Sue: I love that example. Okay, so when we are allowed to travel, I know where we’re meeting. We are going to this taproom because I can’t wait to experience it. You really described a lifestyle brand and they have done such a great job ensuring that their personality and their character comes through everything they do. When we talk about strategy for community, that is what we talk about, it is not slapping up, you know, a website. It’s actually an experience. And I’m not saying when you put a website that you are slapping it up, but people will say, “I have a website and that is my community”, right? Or “I have the Facebook page as a community”. There’s so much thought and it is not more work, it is what you need to do. Like you have to think about that experience, the personality, the character, how you are going to be part of someone’s lifestyle and again saying it is a commodity, I understand it. You know, we have brands that we’ve worked with worked with an oral care company. Toothpaste. Who would have thought that you can have such a differentiator and it can stand for something and mean something too. But it’s the same thing and we work with hello products, the oral care company, so I love that example. So, we have talked about so much, what can a listener do now? Like what would be some ideas and how they might be able to get started and how we can simplify just three things maybe that they can do to get started when they think about everything you shared today?
Anne: Yeah, I think the very first thing they should do is to go back and revisit their brand story. It’s funny you mentioned the website, because that is usually the first place we tell them to look after. It’s like, “Well, we don’t know what a brand story is” Well, what do you have on your about page of your website? That’s generally how people articulate their brand story, so take a look at that and then see if you can answer those three questions that we talk about: Who am I? How am I different? Why do you, the consumer, want me?” And how that generates your purpose for existing in the marketplace as well as the impact that you plan to have. The emotional impact you plan to have. So, see how well constructed that is. If you can put your hand over your name and insert your competitions name, you have not dug deep enough in order to find that for your brand and for your business. That is going to be key because, like we said, that is the foundation. That’s the roots of the tree that is your business. So that’s one. The other thing is if you don’t show what your emotional impact is, do some work in order to define that. You can do that by really understanding your consumer and your customer and this doesn’t matter if you are a direct to consumer or B2B, because in both cases, you have a human on the other side and that human is going to need some sort of attention. Some sort of wishing or dreaming for some sort of opportunity that you are going to be able to deliver authentically and uniquely that is going to create that brand love connection. Also, if you happen to be a brand, and I hear this all the time, “well I just sell ball bearings”. Well then fine, then ball bearings isn’t where you’re going to be building brand love, how you sell that ball bearing is going to be how you develop brand love. So, go beyond just the table stakes of it all and really try to identify that insight, that angst, what is going to be unique and something that you offer that’s going to create that emotional impact; that is number two. And then the third is to get the right talent. I mean you and I, we talk about this all the time, branding and marketing is a skill. A lot of people think because it is so accessible now a days, “if I have a social media channel I am a marketer”. Or “if I went to school for marketing I am a marketer”. It’s like, no, it is so experiential. It takes that professional level of know-how and getting it right and getting it wrong and seeing it across clients to really understand how to do this well. So, don’t sub-optimize and pinch pennies in these places. Invest in your business because that is going to pay so many dividends down the road if you have a strong foundation from which to work on.
Sue: I love it, so let me see if I can summarise. So, now you have me thinking about our website, because you are right. I mean, we say we are a tech company, but we are a people company, and you are right about who you are selling to. There is a human on the other end, and you are solving a problem, so let’s take a look at your “about us”, understanding your customer or consumer. You know, again, that is human on the other side, and go beyond the table stakes, what is your differentiating factor? I love that. Cover the name: Iis your competitor’s name able to replace yours? That’s a problem. And then ensuring that you are investing; you know, you are hiring the right talent, the right partners, the right people to help you get this work done because obviously, as you said, it is a skill. So, my last question: Is there a brand community that you are a part of or one that, you know, I certainly think you have clients that should have a community and brands you’ve worked with across the years, but is there one that you would like to be part of, you know, a brand that you wish had an online community?
Anne: Well, I can tell you one that I highly benefit from. And actually, you know, I have talked about this one before and this is the “Traeger Grills Community.” So, we bought a Traeger about a year ago, it was probably one of the best purchases we have ever made, just by the quality of the grilling that it does. So, yes, they have a superior product, but they also have a full community around that of people sharing techniques and recipes, which my husband goes into on a regular basis and he comes up with all kinds of interesting ways to use the Traeger to grill and cook all kinds of fantastic food. So I highly celebrate and thank the Traeger Community for providing all of these really fantastic recipes and insights and even like some troubleshooting too, which has been really beneficial in order to create these magnificent meals.
Sue: I love it, it is not just a grill, it is an experience. You know, as you said, marketing is experiential and it’s this experience and certainly a lifestyle around it, I love that experience. So, we have covered so much today, which I love. How do listeners find you, find your forthright people and obviously Marketing Smarts and connect with you, so they can become a smarter marketer?
Anne: Yes, so Marketing Smarts podcast, please listen, rate and review us. We significantly appreciate it and let us know if there are any topics that you would like us to cover. We are always listening to our followers and our fans for that kind of information, so that is available on your podcast platform of choice or through our website, which is Forthright-people.com, so you can find out more about us through that website and me and April specifically. Also individually on LinkedIn: Anne Candido and April Martini and then as well on the Forthright People Instagram.
Sue: I love it! And hopefully listeners will reach out because obviously you have so much great knowledge to share. Thank you so much, Anne, for being a guest today. I could talk to you for hours, but we both have other jobs to do, so thank you so much for your time.
Anne: It was my pleasure, Sue. Thank you…Thank you so much for having me again.
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