Doug Hecht and Sarah Kotlova, from Digitaria, spoke at a Disruptive Thinkers event. After a presentation the group of viewers split into two, and each group had time to interview Sarah and Doug. Sarah shared some years of experiences with us about marketing from different points of each business phase. Here is a summary of the notes:

Marketing a business without a business plan

  • Setup brand goals
  • Who are we marketing
  • Nail the product's positioning
  • Know your pillars. Who is NOT your customer
  • How can we setup product trials

Marketing a business with a product just to market

  • Maximize your unpaid resources: Local connections, Friends/Family, Events, etc..
  • Make noise about your product
  • Do not pursue paid advertising unless it directly results in profitable sales

Tips to market a stale product

  • Look around for cultural trends to piggy back off (Sarah mentioned she uses the Harvard Business Review as a reference for trends)
  • Learn what people do not like about the product
  • Innovate where there is room for improvement. Influence the company to change the products' manufacturing to better the product for the market.
  • Change the story and the look of the product.

Turn around a brand that has been hurt

Here are a couple of examples of improving a brand that has been hurt.

A product may have received negative press due to food contamination or if it caused an illness to a human. In order to overcome the negative press, the brand should immediately seek solutions to the contamination. E.g. If a product is speculated to cause cancer, attempt to fix the problem by quickly aligning it with a cancer foundation. Incorporate that into it's packaging and branding. (terrible right?)

Another example may be when an oil company is responsible for an oil spill. As the result of the oil spill, the oil company is faced with recovering their "green appearance."

  • Align with a positive cause
  • Literally fix the problem that occurred

From Brand to "Brand New"

This is when a major brand splits off into a new brand. In this scenario the new brand must be very careful to not be outed by the public. Additionally, the new brand must be who they claim they are. Here' s an example, Company X has massive inhumane pig farms, and they start Company Y. Company X positions Company Y as a natural bacon company, but they still source from the same inhumane pig farms.

How to make marketing hype last longer

A lot of companies will fizzle after their initial launch. Loyal customers will get sick of their product and demand something new, or their loyalty will fade as the company naturally grows larger. Sarah's response to this was "people do not get sick of good products, keep true to your roots". A prime example is if a company initially advertises on a local podcast and receives positive results. The company should continue to advertise in that particular local podcast even if the company becomes incredibly successful. Companies should support their original marketing outlets if they were successful. If the brand does not stay authentic, it will be found out and it can be cancerous to the brand.

Thank you Sarah for sharing your experience!