A MARKETING STRATEGY RICH IN CULTURE IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD
A MARKETING STRATEGY RICH IN CULTURE IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD
By Chelsea Matthews
CHELSEA MATTHEWS IS THE FOUNDER & CEO OF MATTE BLACK, A CULTURE-MARKETING FIRM THAT SPECIALIZES IN BRAND STRATEGY, CONTENT CREATION AND DIGITAL MARKETING.
What is culture marketing? If I got a dollar for every time I was asked that, I’d have just come up with a business model that meant I was chillaxing on the beach in Tulum 362 days a year. But instead, I’ve perfected my culture marketing pitch.
In today’s marketing economy I would say this term is much more commonplace than it was when I first started Matte Black, but culture marketing is a way in which a brand chooses to connect with their consumers. It’s choosing to speak to them in their language, with a narrative they can connect with. It’s eliminating the ‘sell’ and focusing on a holistic way of making them feel they can’t not engage with your brand. Consumers today - cue: Millennials - are far more savvy, and are not to be spoken to in the old adage of ad speak.
According to Urban Dictionary, culture refers to “some bullshit that corporations like to throw around to pretend not to be either evil or incompetent. Either that or they are just blindly copying other corporations lead in newspeak.”
Honestly, not far off. But really, it’s only a handful of brands that are truly the root of a successful culture shift. In my opinion, it’s brands like Levi’s, Red Bull and Converse who have (and continue to) move the needle in consumer thirst. When you think of them as brands, sometimes the product they sell comes secondary to the experience.
And so that’s where culture marketing comes in: the strategy and ideas that aim to garner the same level of consumer reaction and action. Possible with every brand? No way. As an agency setting out with this intention, we can only attempt to pull together the puzzle pieces that might land on a culture win.
Here’s a few ways we approach this.
MAKE YOUR BRAND RELATABLE.
People love people. Profiling your community creates an opportunity for a customer to find someone they connect with and feel they can relate to. If you’re constantly pushing product, and there’s no humanistic element, there’s no opportunity for your customer to feel a sense of ‘they get me’. We are most influenced to buy based on personal recommendations, and a brand strategy that omits the opportunity to create that same sense of brand alignment within their conversation is missing out.
FIND YOUR NICHE.
Converse recently announced a five-day music series in Boston: Rubber Tracks. Again, we don’t all have that kind of budget, but what they’ve done here is identify a long standing niche in music. They know that’s their people, their community… and so they created an experience made for them. Will it directly sell shoes? Most certainly, but indirectly. Culture isn’t always measurable, but it’s hugely impactful.
TELL A STORY.
Not the story about how your product was made or who founded your company (although those are very important, too), but rather the story that will drive your marketing campaign for the next three months, or longer. Lets take our friends at Darling Magazine for example. They created the conversation ‘That’s Darling’ and turned it into a social media lifestyle storm (just search #thatsdarling on Instagarm). It’s gone beyond the brand, it’s a social conversation.
“...CULTURE MARKETING IS A WAY IN WHICH A BRAND CHOOSES TO CONNECT WITH THEIR CONSUMERS.”
“PEOPLE LOVE PEOPLE. PROFILING YOUR COMMUNITY CREATES AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A CUSTOMER TO FIND SOMEONE THEY CONNECT WITH AND FEEL THEY CAN RELATE TO.”
TAKE IT TO THE STREETS.
Offline drives online. Creating opportunities for your consumers to engage with your brand offline is how you garner organic social advocacy and awareness. The perfect example of this is Levi’s Workshops, which were pop ups and held nationally as a means to create space for creators. Whether film or print, they aimed to create environments for people to come and create, or just park up with their laptop and work for the day. They were speaking to the creative class in their language. Product was secondary, if present at all. They were saying, “come hang in our environment, be a part of our world’ in a way that had nothing to do with denim, yet everything to do with the brand. And sure, we may not all have Levi’s budget to create something of this scale, but the concept can be interpreted in many different ways.
DON’T SELL. NUDGE.
It’s the difference between saying ‘buy this’ and ‘your life isn’t complete until you have me in your life’. A brand that does this well is Glossier. If you subscribe to their email blasts, you’ll feel a sense of ‘I want to join this beauty cult’ every time it hits your inbox. It’s about choosing a brand language that your customer can relate to, as if their BFF is speaking to them, and pairing it with an editorial driven content play. Make your customer feel like they’re opening up the most recent issue of Kinfolk when they see your newsletter in their inbox.
MAKE IT 360.
A strategy that doesn’t take a multi channel approach is an instant loss. I can’t emphasize how often I see a marketing loss when a brand opts to put all their cards on one marketing channel. If you’re relying for your whole marketing campaign to be driven through social media, then you’re potentially missing a huge base. Hit them in their inbox. Create the dopest mailer your customer has seen. Don’t have a retail store? Partner with a cool brand that does and host an event. Each of these channels should support the same message, the same story. After all, it takes three times to make a lasting impression.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, MAKE IT LOOK 100*.
I’d preach about how good design impacts consumer behavior all day long if I could. Basically, care about how your marketing visually speaks to your consumers. Invest in high quality original imagery, design your email blasts in a way that reads like an editorial spread in Vogue, and make your packaging something people want to take a photo of and post.
*100 is defined as being real. 100 percent genuine.
Essentially, create a lifestyle that your consumer aspires to be a part of, one that speaks to them. Culture is really limitless and unique to each and every company. Hire us and we’ll help you map it out (how’s that for a nudge?!).
To quote Levi’s: go forth.