How Ben & Jerry’s Flipped the Lid on Content Marketing Strategy

Ben & Jerry’s content marketing strategy involves bold flavors and social activism to maintain a positive brand and reputation.

From their fanciful flavor names to the way that they embrace political activism, any experienced content marketing agency should understand that Ben & Jerry’s provides a good example of a successful brand that does things a little differently. For example,most agencies will usually advise conducting market research as the very first step in developing a content marketing strategy.

In contrast, Ben & Jerry’s current CEO, Matthew McCarthy said that conducting too much market research can lead to mediocrity. Find out how this beloved brand has retained its market position by delivering what customers want without trying to spend to much time upfront attempting to even predict what that is.

What’s different About Ben & Jerry’s content marketing strategy?

Instead of creating a perception of maintaining just another high-quality ice cream brand, Ben & Jerry’s continues to generate a positive brand perception by working to disrupt their market and revolutionize society.

Maintaining their reputation as a disputer

So how can the CEO of Ben and Jerry’s say that too much research, a staple of most content marketing plans, can lead to mediocrity? McCarthy told Marketing Week that he spent years working for Unilever and for much of that career, they relied upon consumers to tell them exactly what they wanted. Of course, he agrees that this kind of research still provides an incredibly useful tool.

However, he’s learned that it’s impossible to please everybody and by trying, it can lead to not actually pleasing anybody that well. If you ask a random group of people to choose their favorite ice cream, a lot of them might settle upon chocolate, vanilla, or maybe, strawberry. Instead, Ben & Jerry’s has stood out by coming up with interesting and memorable concoctions that may or may not rely upon the old standby flavors as part of the mix.

Instead, they begin by having product development teams work with their flavor gurus, also known as professional chefs. After they’ve developed new flavors, they may test them by either sending them directly to market or by inviting small groups of Ben  Jerry’s fans to try a scoop. And he believes this practice continues to help them grow and maintain a reputation as a market disrupter, even though they’re an established brand that’s been around for over four decades and has a presence in at least 35 countries.

So, when Ben & Jerry’s introduces such brands as Phish Food, Cherry Garcia, and Americone Dream, everybody wants to find out what the buzz is all about. It doesn’t hurt that they’ve associated at least some of their flavors with celebrities. They can also glide a bit on not just their own media presence but also that of the people or concepts they honor and support with their delicious pints.

How Ben & Jerry’s maintains their activist image

Ben & Jerry’s dedicated one of the most popular flavors, Americone Dream, to Stephen Colbert. Not only that, a portion of profits also goes to some of Stephen Colbert’s favorite charities. Not only should an inbound marketing agency consider this an example of genius marketing, they should also take note that the favor’s really good.

Who wouldn’t like a fudge-covered pieces of waffle cones and caramel swirls drenched in a high-quality vanilla base? Plus, each pint helps such worthy causes as the environment, veterans, and disadvantaged children. Just mentioning it here will probably move a few more pints off the shelf. Don’t forget to try the Chunky Money while you’re at it. Besides sales, the extra attention has generated plenty of positive press from news agencies, supported charities, and of course, Colbert himself.

Ben and Jerry’s recent statement on white supremacy should not have surprised anybody who has followed a company that already introduced flavors like Pecan Resist and Justice Remix’d. Not only did their statement help them solidly their serious stance as a brand with a purpose, it also helped them align with activist movements.

What’s activism got to do with ice cream?

When asked by Marketing Dive what activism has to do with ice cream, the CEO said, “Not a lot. Except we care about it, and our team cares.” Judging by the extra positive mentions that Ben & Jerry’s has received by blogs, news sites, and even activist organizations, it looks like their customers care too.

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Let Goat Yoga Enlighten Your Viral Content Strategy

Goat yoga videos went viral through engaging content and good promotion. Add viral content to your social media marketing strategy. 

It’s been the butt of jokes, pun intended. People who have never seen it always ask if it’s even real. Comedians on late-night TV make fun of it. Still, goat yoga has turned into a serious business, mostly because of a successful content media strategy.

No content marketing agency or forgive me, guru, can give you the exact formula to guarantee a viral content marketing strategy. Still, it’s easy to pick out what viewers found engaging and sharable when they viewed goat yoga videos online.

Can goat yoga teach you how to get a video viral?

That’s My Idea! Marketing, a local content marketing agency for a goat yoga location, offered a very transparent glimpse into their social media strategy. Like any good marketers, they defined their target market. They decided taking yoga classes in a field with cute, little goats would appeal to the most to females who were at least 25 years old. Once they had their target, they promoted videos of the activity on Facebook. Of course, by then, lots of people had already heard of goat yoga, so their job may have been a bit easier.

According to CNBC, the original founder of Original Goat Yoga actually started gaining attention through a story and photos in Modern Farmer. The videos arrived somewhat later. She made a solid six-figures her first year just from viral media attention. During that time, images and videos of goats and yoga students in action spread fast. For her, the business grew so quickly that gaining attention was the least of her problems.

Instead, she needed to abruptly leave her full-time job and struggle to get the infrastructure in place to support all the people who wanted to attend classes. During that first year, her expenses kept up with spiking revenues because she had never planned to grow so fast. At least from a marketing perspective, it was a job well done. Later, she managed to develop revenue and funding sources to make the rest of her business as successful as her marketing.

The ingredients of the goat yoga viral content strategy

While the exact formula might not work for every business, it’s easy to spot the qualities of the photos and videos of goat yoga classes that engaged viewers:

  • They’re fun, interesting, and effective: People have a natural attraction to cute animals, and these dwarf goats are as photogenic as kittens. People also have an interest in yoga. While neither goats nor yoga are new ideas, combining them was novel. Like peanut butter and chocolate, putting goats and yoga together produced magic. It’s like the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups of exercise and animal videos. People who have tried the classes in person say that having the goats hop about is surprisingly calming.
  • They’re visually appealing and engaging and very sharable: The goats snuggle, prance, and sometimes, even hop up on the yoga students while they’re holding their poses. While the videos are actually fairly simple and easy to understand, the unpredictable nature of the animals generates countless possibilities. The combination of visual appeal and simplicity makes this kind of content very sharable, and that’s a key ingredient for viral content.
  • They evoke positive emotions:  Goat yoga doesn’t just connect with its audience. It also helps connect the audience to nature and animals. This sort of content almost immediately evokes a sense of joy, makes people laugh, and relieves stress. These days, it’s easy to get bombarded with bad news and negative emotions, so the goat yoga videos offer a pleasant refuge.

What can goat yoga teach a content marketing agency or business about viral videos?

Neil Patel, the internet marketing guru, published some simple characteristics that he believes every viral video needs. As you explore his suggestions, you can see how goat yoga videos provide a great example:

  • Rapid engagement: To get attention on a busy video site or social platform, videos need to gain attention quickly.
  • Novelty: If you’re advertising a type of yoga class or a toaster, you should stand out by doing something different. Think about the example of advertising a blender by finding out if it could blend a cell phone or tablet.
  • Decent quality: These days, you should pay some attention to production values. That’s true even if you can’t yet afford professional equipment or producers. Even if the videos aren’t perfect, they still need to be good enough.
  • Practicality: This might appear almost counter-intuitive when you’re talking about producing novel content; however, videos that offer accessible solutions tend to garner the most views.
  • Promotable: Even the most sharable videos need to gain that initial audience, so have a plan to distribute and promote the videos in order to help them gain momentum.

If you read more about the early days of goat yoga, you will learn that the founder hit upon a fantastic idea, promoted it, and then let her audience find her. She honestly never expected it to gain momentum as quickly as it did. If you’re setting out to develop viral content, you should first define your target audience and research the types of content that have a good chance of appealing to them.

Original Goat Yoga first distributed to Modern Farmer. You may want to spend time figuring out the sorts of platforms and publications that your audience might frequent in order to create your distribution and social media strategy. Even though viral content relies upon having the audience share it, you first need to develop that audience.

Even the most successful marketers will admit that they need art, science, and some luck to produce viral video content. By neglecting the important characteristics of a viral content strategy, you’ll greatly reduce your chances. Still, by studying past successes, you can craft and distribute content in a way that will greatly improve your odds, so you won’t need to rely upon luck so much.

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Raise Your Instagram Strategy Game With Experiential Sets

Adding experiential experiences to your content marketing strategy can help grow and engage your audience online and offline.

Instagram, the popular photo and video site, will celebrate its 10th birthday in 2020. According to Sprout Social, just about a billion people use Instagram regularly, with about sixty percent of these users logging in at least once a day. While Instagram isn’t the largest social site, it is remarkable for the sort of famously Instagrammable experiences that its devoted audience has come to expect from content providers. As a marketer or content marketing agency, learn one way that you can tailor your Instagram strategy to include such an experience.

Developing an Instagram strategy around experiential set design

Many kinds of businesses have used Instagram as part of their effective content marketing strategy. Lots of other businesses even owe their starts to this unique social platform. As an important example, Instagram has even birthed an entire cottage industry of off-line sets that creative people develop just to generate the perfect backdrop for Instagrammable experiences.

Lately, these typically colorful and well-designed places have been called experiential sets. Fast Company referred to them as a sort of Disneyland for the selfie set, designed to appeal to short attention spans and a be-seen culture. Besides typically charging an admission fee, they also generally have sponsored rooms or galleries.

What is experiential set design?

To understand experiential set designs, it helps to consider some examples. Fast Company highlighted the Museum of Ice Cream’s debut in 2016. It launched in New York City, and then later attracted such celebrities as Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, and Katy Perry as it spread to Los Angeles and Miami. Copycats with similar ordinary themes and extraordinary sensory experiences popped up soon afterwards. Some examples include the Museum of Pizza and the Egg House. Of course, the most obviously named one is called the Museum of Selfies.

No matter the theme, they’re always designed with a photogenic quality in mind; however, they usually offer a live experience that appeals to multiple senses, such as feeling, smelling, and even tasting. Naturally, the admission to the Museum of Ice Cream includes a free scoop, provided by rotating vendors, who hope to gain more exposure both offline and online.

This new trend in experiential set design for events has moved to established museums or galleries and traveled as popup exhibitions. Critics have sometimes belittled these sets as dumbing down culture for the digital age and exploiting patrons by letting them pay high admission fees for superficial art and blatant advertising.

Great examples of experiential settings

At the same time, some efforts have been taken more seriously. As an example, The Color Factory has enjoyed serious design credibility with its focus upon color, creativity, and the way people experience spaces. They’ve even collaborated with such prestigious designers as the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt Design Museum. While the developers keep it a kid-friendly place, The Color Factory also appeals to couples on dates, tourists, and of course, Instagram and other social media influencers.

Of course, major brands have started sponsoring their own experiential settings. One good example includes the Escape the Room games that HBO sponsored at SXSW. They provided sets inspired by popular HBO shows, including Game of Thrones, Veep, and Silicone Valley. These games immersed players in the shows’ stories in an incredibly engaging way.

Using experiential set design for B2B on Instagram

It’s sort of intuitive to see how a B2C content marketing agency can make use of these experiential sets to help improve brand recognition and grow their audiences. For example, Refinery 29’s contribution to this new industry, 29 Rooms, has had branded rooms from such companies as Smirnoff, Kraft, and Revlon. Non-sponsoring celebrities and social influencers might simply use the interesting backdrops of the venues as imaginative settings for their photos and videos. Meanwhile, the settings themselves may benefit from plenty of online exposure, admission fees, and sponsors.

At the same time, the concept of experiential sets can also lend itself very well for marketers who want to gain exposure for B2B on Instagram and other social sites. It’s important to note that a Bizzabo survey of hundreds of experienced marketers found that 87 percent of C-suite executives think live events will begin to factor much more in their marketing strategy.

Turning life events into Instagrammable experiences

For some good examples of way the executives might consider spending some of their marketing budgets on experiential sets for live events: 

  • Look at the Healthymagination marketing campaign by GE. They designed realistic medical settings that include demos of the ways that their tech helps improve them.
  • For something a bit more colorful and in line with other experiential settings, consider the way that HubSpot has designed their inbound marketing conference, complete with a giant #INBOUND hashtag sculpture to remind attendees how to find their posts and tag their own.
  • If you want to add a high-tech approach, you might even follow Intel’s lead in using immersive augmented and virtual reality tech to create a memorable and Instagrammable experience. One highlight included a hologram of one of their general managers, Gregory Bryant, speaking to the crowd.

Live events can lend themselves perfectly to serving as venues for Instagrammable experiences. Of course, it’s possible to turn the setting into its own event. Businesses can create their own branded experiences, either to keep in their headquarters buildings for visitors or as a popup that they can move around to trade shows and conventions. They can use their sets to highlight their company’s history, products, and community service. All the while, they can turn this immersive experience into something very sharable, so they benefit from both offline and online attention.

Should experiential sets become part of your content marketing strategy?

If you can find an experiential set relevant to your business, you may find that a great venue to produce sharable content. If you’re looking for a novel, competitive edge for your content marketing agency, you might even come up with your own ideas for a photogenic, mini-Disneyland for the selfie crowd. You can improve exposure both online and offline, plus add another revenue stream to your business.

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Better Content Marketing for the Financial Services Industry

Banks and other financial services need an edge to stay competitive. Here’s why content marketing can help them better connect with prospective customers.

Banks and credit unions are hardly celebrated for their innovation or mastery of digital tools. There’s a reason for this: The industry is by nature conservative, and it is also constrained by regulations. This is why the banking sector has been relatively behind on the digitalization curve.

Yet this also provides an opening for financial services enterprises — as long as they are willing to adopt new approaches that are aligned with changing consumer preferences. One recent example is the Capital One Cafe, a coffeehouse/bank location hybrid that allows customers to enjoy meet-ups and drink coffee while conducting basic banking services. This “bank barista” concept was designed to target the millennial market and make banking an enjoyable experience, rather than routine drudgery.

With banking services increasingly migrating online, however, banks and credit unions also need to harness the full potential of digital tools. Content marketing, specifically, is one of the most impactful things a bank can do to modernize its digital strategy and generate new business.

Let’s take a closer look at why this approach pays dividends, and how partnering with the right content marketing agency will help deliver results.

Developing a content marketing strategy that works

Financial marketers understand the value of strong content marketing. A recent Brandpoint survey showed that financial marketers view content marketing as an essential tactic for generating brand awareness and engaging with customers. That same survey, however, showed that half of financial marketers struggle with content creation and staying current with the latest techniques.

Other common problems include:

  • Insufficient resources to create top content
  • Inability to determine ROI or effectiveness of the content 
  • Poorly defined strategy
  • Difficulty managing a multi-channel approach with consistency
  • Lack of budget
  • Lack of content marketing expertise
  • Leadership not buying in

That financial services firms struggle with content marketing is not surprising. If you asked most people about memorable marketing, banks would certainly not top the list. Some financial services firms, however, know how to do content marketing correctly. Here are two examples:

  • Citibank is highly-regarded for its brand awareness initiatives — and for good reason. The company’s sponsorship with New York’s popular Citibike program means that 10 million-plus New Yorkers can’t rent a bike without thinking about a bank. Citibank also uses content marketing and sponsorships with major artists as part of its Citi Entertainment program for customers. In both cases, Citibank attaches its name to something that consumers love (bike riding, concerts) — a significant boost, considering most bank brands have little inherent cachet. It’s an example of savvy bank marketing.
  • Deloitte is best known for being a global consultancy and financial advisory operation. Not exactly the type of enterprise to give retail consumers warm and fuzzy feelings. Yet every year Deloitte issues a “Back to School” survey that uses clever, data-rich visuals to help consumer optimize their purchasing habits. It’s not related to Deloitte’s core business, but it is a smart piece of content marketing that improves brand awareness and builds brand trust. Parents engaged with this campaign identify Deloitte as a company that helps them solve a perennial problem.

So now that we’ve discussed some challenges and seen some strong examples, let’s talk about what financial services firms can do to jumpstart their content marketing efforts and start building brand awareness and loyalty.

Actionable advice for your financial content marketing strategy

Companies that generate exceptional ROI from their content marketing efforts tend to have some commonalities. A recent Content Marketing Institute research survey investigated the factors shared by firms that are especially successful in this regard. According to this research, the four elements that separate winners from losers are:

  • Having a documented content marketing strategy. 65% of firms who report being successful in content marketing have such as a strategy, while only 14% of unsuccessful firms have one.
  • Measuring the ROI of content marketing initiatives. 72% of successful firms do this, while only 22% of unsuccessful firms measure ROI.
  • Proficiency with the latest content marketing technology. 67% of successful firms report proficiency, while only 7% of unsuccessful firms do.
  • Using personas for content marketing campaigns. 77% of successful firms use personas, while only 36% of unsuccessful firms use them.

By implementing or improving these four elements, you can lay the groundwork for a high-performing content marketing strategy. Not every financial institution or marketer has the experience of savvy to get the most out of this approach, however. In these cases, it makes sense to partner with a leading content creation agency.

Finding the right inbound marketing agency

If you’re in need of SEO marketing, content marketing or any other digital marketing service, we encourage you to contact Bigeye. We have the technical skill and domain expertise to help financial institutions gain immediate traction with high-performing digital marketing campaigns.

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What a Creative Advertising Agency Can Learn from Geico

Studying Geico ads, your creative advertising agency can learn invaluable tools for your brand campaigns—making them more effective, memorable, and fun.

Everyone knows Geico Insurance. Whether you’re a fan of the gecko, caveman, or another one of their mascots, we’ve all got to hand it to Geico for their incredibly well-done ads. We fully recognize it’s no accident either, they consistently make brilliant, strategic decisions ultimately getting them to where they are today.

Our curiosity peaks when we ask the question: What drives those ever-changing concepts? Here’s what we’ve learned.

1. Don’t let the product be the only focus

Let’s be real, insurance is not the most engaging subject. Consumers don’t pay attention to ads centered on jargon and driven by industry best practices; they want to be entertained. Geico’s creative advertising agency does an amazing job of having fun with their product with a purpose. For example, the caveman ads. A campaign that revolved around the concept that cavemen exist today and the slogan, “so easy a caveman could do it” deeply offends them.

This has absolutely nothing to do with insurance, any industry has a convenient pull and this could have resonated in any of them. It’s simply that Geico coined it. You can see this idea in most of their ads. However, the product isn’t just tacked on either. It’s a big plot point. Who is saying their product is, “so easy a caveman could do it?” Geico.

They are central to the plot but not the only focus. Your campaign strategy should do the same thing. Get a creative ad agency with strategies that will weave your brand into the content in interesting, innovative ways.

2. Put in the resources

Amazing ads can’t be crafted in 2 hours on $10. Giving your creative ad agency the time and resources they need to truly capture your voice and vision is a huge step towards long-term campaign success. According to Forbes, Geico invested $5 million in ad creation for 2017 alone. That’s an astronomical number, but for the breadth of ads, quality content, varied target markets the results show it all. That year, Geico’s brand awareness hit 53%. For context, Progressive’s high-point that year was 43%.

Now it’s not all about spending, Progressive had spent $4.5 million and got significantly lower results. The talent must also be there, as well as avid and clear communication on vision and goals. Look at the top creative agencies in your industry, target markets, and locations before you decide which creative advertising agency should get that big investment. Money can only take you so far, you need the right people.

3. Don’t keep repeating the same ad

Even the most energizing and unique concepts can get monotonous and bothersome over time. Don’t make your audience watch the same thing over and over. Whether it’s through one concept with multiple executions or multiple different campaigns running at once, give your audience varied the content. Geico is a great example of both practices. Their creative advertising agency ran many spots featuring their acoustic musicians in ads such as Hump Day and Christopher Columbus. Then ran separate campaigns at the same time by keeping their Gecko ads running while ads featuring fun facts in realistic situations were also on air.

More than varied content, you need to also use multiple channels. Geico ads can be found in print, on TV, and YouTube Pre-roll too. Get a creative digital agency that works across platforms. This way, your content will be seen and won’t get stale.

The takeaway

Memorable advertising is a complex order, and every brand is different. You can achieve high brand awareness and drive profits with a few key concepts. So, what are the takeaways? Have more than one ad, keeping your consumers engaged demands innovative, plentiful content. Let the story drive the ad, your brand should be a key plot driver but not the only focus. Tell a complete narrative that lets your products shine without being the only concept at hand. Finally, give your agency the time, information, and funding they need to reach your goals effectively.

As a creative advertising agency, we understand how vital engaging, varied advertising is to a thriving business. We’re strategy first in all aspects, tailoring our services to your industry, target market, and needs to optimize your ad spend and drive effective results. Reach out to learn about what we can do for you.

A Content Marketing Agency: The Solution to Understanding Gen Z

Well, it’s time for a new challenge: Generation Z. They’re kind of like Millennials, but just a little bit extra.
In just three years, the global population of Generation Z will outnumber Millennials, reaching a population of about 2.5 billion. In the United States, members of Generation Z now comprise 20% of the population and rising.

To be successful, marketers need to understand the shift that’s occurring. In order to do that, they need greater insight into the makeup, preferences, behaviors, and motivations of Generation Z, which is why partnering with a content marketing agency might be beneficial for you.

Personal appearance, immediacy, and the “Instagram Effect”

Generation Z is the first cohort to have never really known a world without the smartphone or social media. They’ve grown up in public, documenting their lives online. In this sense, they are part of a radical experiment, having no experience of the slower and more private analog world that existed before smartphones and social platforms.

A report compiled by Fung Global Retail & Technology draws some interesting conclusions about Generation Z, including the following:

  • They attach great importance to personal appearance, having spent their lives being judged (and judging others) on social media.
  • They spend more on leisure and lifestyle purchases (restaurants, travel, etc.) due to the competitive pressures of social media (also known as the “Instagram Effect).
  • They are the most demanding and least patient generation in history, due to on-demand services such as Netflix, Postmates and Uber.

These three characteristics are, of course, of particular interest to content marketers. Members of Generation Z are extremely interested in products tied to appearance. They are hungry for experiences; their consumer spending habits are often tailored to the need to show social media audiences that they have fun, interesting, and meaningful lives.

They also have a craving for, and expectation of, immediacy. Because this generation has grown up in an environment where products and services appear at the push of a button, they’ve been conditioned to expect a fast response.

How a smart content marketing agency connects with Gen Z

Generation Z members spend around nine hours each day on their devices, scrolling through various feeds, posting content and socializing. In order to increase engagement, marketers should do the following:

  • Rely on video and images rather than text.
  • Create visually-striking content that stands out, with a clear call to action.
  • Use an attention-grabbing approach that cuts through the clutter. Generation Z has grown up immersed in advertising, so it takes something novel to seize their attention.
  • Understand the sensibility. Younger people document their lives on social media, if you want to understand what they think is funny or interesting, all you need to do is look.
  • Don’t patronize. There’s nothing worse than a brand attempting to connect with young people by clumsily appropriating their humor or lexicon. When something like this lands, it can be very effective — but it can also backfire spectacularly if not executed well.

A content marketing agency is your best option

While we’ve been helping brands succeed for more than a decade, BIGEYE prides itself on being a young, energetic content marketing agency. We move fast and build data-driven content for our clients.

If you’d like to better understand the art and science of targeting Generation Z, don’t hesitate to contact us today.