4 Ways Randi Zuckerberg’s Career Advice Will Improve Your Marketing StrategyMarch 1, 2017 9:31 am ·
Photo by Doug Strickland / Chattanooga Times Free Press
Last week, Randi Zuckerberg spoke to a sold-out crowd of more than 800 in the Chattanooga, Tennessee community. The 12th annual IMPACT leadership dinner, hosted by the Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute, focused on the topic of women leaders and women’s role in technology. As the first digital marketer to grace the halls of the Facebook office, a marketing entrepreneur, author, broadway cast member, and professional speaker, Randi Zuckerberg was the perfect person to speak to this topic.
As she discussed the importance of innovation and technology in building a successful business and career, I began to uncover parallels between her entrepreneurial approaches and how tech marketers can devise better marketing strategies.
1. Establish Your Differentiator
Many entrepreneurs wonder what Facebook had that made them such an overnight and lasting success. According to Randi, the reasons are threefold:
- The product was launched with exclusivity.
- Real name identities were used, at a time with online usernames and personas were the norm.
- There was a focus on the company’s own internal culture.
“It’s important to think of what you stand for,” said Randi.
Facebook decided early on that their culture held great importance. Even when they grew past 10,000 employees, Randi said the environment still felt like the first office — an old house where passionate coders worked hard and survived on Red Bull and Twinkies.
While it’s important to discern your company’s overall differentiator, this approach can be drilled down even further by your marketing team. Spend time defining the value your team will bring to the company, whether it’s greater brand recognition or higher lead-generation rates. How will you add to company goals and what makes you different from the other departments?
Once you know what you want to bring to the table, pivot and use this approach to evaluate what makes each product and service offering unique. Craft your strategy around their differentiators, tying them back into the overarching company message. This process will provide immediate value to your target tech consumer.
2. Understand Not All Paths Should Be Followed
As Randi clicked through examples of revolutionary 3D printing initiatives and harmful 3D printing projects, she showcased how some companies have succeeded in this innovative market and others have failed. Her point was to emphasize that not all technology is good technology.
Along the same vein, tech marketers need to remember that while there are many marketing strategies bound to improve brand awareness, others may be more likely to hurt it.
When a new marketing trend bursts onto the scene, don’t jump on board simply because you see your competition getting a head start. Carefully plan out how this new method of advertising or messaging fits into your current marketing plan. Is the approach out in left field compared to your existing strategy? That may be a sign.
Take baby steps when implementing something so foreign to your operations. Some shake up is good, but too much too fast can blur your brand message. Since innovation can be vital to success, however, embrace new trends after carefully vetting them first. (Also, in some instances, it can be beneficial to wait and learn from your competition’s experience. Did their marketing strategy with this new trend crash and burn? How and why? Learn from their mistakes before making your own.)
It’s also important to be conscious of your ideal tech consumer as you incorporate new mediums and strategies. If the latest marketing ploy won’t reach those you’re targeting, it may not be a sound investment. Likewise, if you’re struggling to reach your desired demographic, it may be time to research what competitors are doing and how it’s working for them. Maybe they’ve tapped into a new way of advertising to tech users online and have filled their funnel as a result.
3. Communicate Like a Media Company
Not all companies are created equal — especially when it comes to levels of marketing competence. Some companies have large budgets built for brainstorming and development in order to create the best approaches, while other companies may not have large budgets, but hire innovative workers slated to make waves. There are companies who view marketing as an essential part of the business process and others who do not. No matter where your company falls in the spectrum of media and marketing savvy, you can still find success by meeting consumers where it counts. From television ad spots to magazine ads and digital media, companies are using available data to uncover the best place for their message. And they’re making the most of it.
Randi explained how in 2015, Dominos sent out a tweet using only pizza emojis. It was a post that garnered serious attention, because it showcased the company’s newest feature of being able to order pizza through Twitter using only an emoji. They discovered where a high population of consumers were living online, and they joined in the conversation. They created a splash, generated some media buzz, and reaped the reward.
“If you reach even one person, you’re successful,” advised Randi.
As you move forward in your strategic planning, find the spaces where your audience is interacting. Is it on Snapchat? Capitalize on that. Is it in a community forum? Engage there. Find someone on your marketing team who knows the medium or can learn it and begin interacting with users online.
This is especially important for reaching tech consumers, as they’re regularly adverse to the typical marketing approach. If you come to them in an effort to provide quality content and value with your product or service — not as a salesperson — you will gain followers.
4. Try Something New, Even if it Scares You
Part of Facebook’s competitive ingenuity sprung forth during their monthly hack-a-thons. Known as a forum where workers spend a day on a passion project completely outside of their day-to-day tasks, hack-a-thons spur ideas that may be worth exploring. In fact, that’s how Facebook Live came to be. One of Randi’s lifelong dreams was to be a host of her own television show, so she worked at a hack-a-thon to create Facebook Live. What began as an exclusive service used only upon request by celebrities — and even the president — has now grown to be a button on more than one billion phones worldwide.
These events provide good exercise in looking beyond usual idea generators to see what others in the company can create.
“There was always one really cool presentation and one product we could put on our roadmap,” said Randi. “It was always an entry-level employee or new intern with a fresh perspective. There was no hierarchy… If you had an idea, you just waited for a hack-a-thon and created your own job.”
While it’s not always possible to leave behind the daily grind to think of new, cutting-edge approaches for your marketing campaigns, it’s an important part of growth. If your message never changes year after year, the audience will fatigue and your campaigns may drown among the noise. Consumers will get used to you and your message. It’s important to work as a team and encourage idea sharing to find the best way of reaching the tech users most likely to engage with your product, year after year, as preferences and mediums change. Don’t be afraid to step outside the norm in the same way a hack-a-thon challenges you to flex your other skills. For Randi, overcoming the fear of putting her ideas out there paid off when she was met with resounding support for a new product offering.
Online forums like Experts Exchange come in handy when looking for fresh angles, allowing you to pinpoint brand ambassadors who may have the best insight into how and where you’re excelling with consumers. While interns may bring fresh perspective to Facebook, brand ambassadors are often an untapped resource for technology companies. Take their opinions and ideas back to your team and you’ll find exciting ways to gain traction with your audience.
As your company releases new products or services and marketing is tasked with creating a message, consider first implementing these four approaches. Differentiate your value, evaluate the latest practices, find new ways to get your message across, bring a fresh approach to planning, and you can craft an inventive, original marketing plan bound to be noticed.