"Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories that you tell.” Seth Godin
Authentic storytelling is key to creating a successful brand today; be it sharing your own story, listening to your users, or a hybrid of both. In the end, it’s all about how well you communicate and this involves both active talking and listening.
When I was studying and in my early career days, people used to tell me that a singular objective of marketing is money. But, I always had a hard time believing it and I still hold reservations to the above-mentioned answer. I would say the sole objective of Marketing is 'communication done right'. And the by-products of those efforts are increased sales, growth, and higher returns.
Let me elaborate on this concept. We are always taught that the route to success is being the best at whatever you do and money would follow. I think it’s really true; a good product/ service will always be profitable and the bad ones will never make it, irrespective of marketing. So, how does Marketing really help? It helps you reach the right audience with the right message at the right time and over the right touch points.
Marketing combined with good product/ service = Miracle
Marketing combined with poor product/ service = Cheating
Making of the Brand Lollypop
I joined Lollypop as the 22nd employee of the company with no marketing department. For those, who are not aware of Lollypop, it is a niche research-driven experience design studio known for its bespoke designs. Today, it’s ranked among the ‘Top 3 Design Studios Globally’ and has an extremely renowned list of clienteles under its hood from across 13 countries. It is also considered among the community leaders in the field of design.
So, how did an underground studio scale so big in a matter of 3 years and became the first choice for all the companies? How did a 500% increase in the leads happen with organic marketing? It was achievable for majorly two reasons; first, it was exceptionally good at its services and second, the power of storytelling was leveraged with the help of conventional and unconventional platforms. Here are a couple of things that we did as a team to ensure that our storytelling was compelling, creative, and connected.
I spent the first two months very closely with the sales team attending calls and client meetings other than extensive reading and meeting each department head. This helped me gain in-depth knowledge of design, client requirements, and about Lollypop in a short period of time. I learned everything about the company and its domain right from its history, sales, services offered, its clients, stakeholders, domain, operations, everything!
This initial investment of time was a groundwork to help strategize the internal strengths that could be utilized in communicating efforts and to draft a skeletal framework of our resources, internal processes, budget, and the intent of the brand. With these insights in place, it was easy for us to prioritize and craft the initial guidelines for brand positioning and communication.
Being in an experience design domain, it was essential for us to present our digital selves in the best possible manner and hence we always spend a lot of time and energy in keeping ourselves in line with the new trends; we try and update our designs every two years. You can read the Lollypop rebranding blog done in 2018 here.
Every company has varieties of stakeholders, some are revenue-generating while others are more geared towards the community. We did the classic persona mapping exercise and gained an in-depth understanding of the users' behavior and different touchpoints. We could gain insights on the critical decision-making factors of users along with their interests, frustrations, needs, wants and preferences, timings etc. We used tools such as heat maps, search console, google trends, ubersuggests for the technical side of digital marketing.
This helped us craft a very targeted strategy even with the limited resources:
- Proper budgeting to demarcate clear spends that were absolutely necessary
- Targeted only a few digital platforms with high conversion possibilities
- Defined story-telling for each target group that could establish a connection
- Leveraged social groups for greater accessibility
- Adopted 80-20 rule by focusing on branding. For us showcasing the work took 80% of effort and 20% was community building efforts.
If you have worked in a start-up, you know the money crunch and how the very little share is allotted for marketing initially. We adopted the organic marketing method and spent only on awards. Yes, that’s all we spent on for one year straight. We used many unconventional channels and made use of online groups, niche communities, offline events, LinkedIn Networking to make sure our impact still goes the long way.
Sometimes, there might not be money but marketing is not about money as I said earlier it’s about the right storytelling.
Content Is The King
Today world is flooded with content from words to videos. But again, content is important and if you can get to know what your users are searching for, nothing like it! We understood that design was at much nascent stage and hence spreading awareness was our priority both for the clients and community likewise. We ran a lot of polls, question weeks, and scouted through Quora to understand what are the questions that the community is seeking an answer to? Hence, our content strategy was something like:
- Design workshops for prospective clients and students
- Basic articles on the benefits of UX/ UI Design
- Case studies with impact
- And insightful articles on our learnings from each project
Word Of Mouth Marketing
We focused on relationship building. If your service is good, it is easier to have references and newer leads. We sent emails that could keep our clients engaged be it an interesting piece of news on their domain, some announcement or just a hello!
We still have our first clients as our friends and we still work together whenever new projects come in. We try and engage with everyone as much as we can, and make it a point to send a small token of appreciation once every year.
Marketing can never be done individually. We ensured that everyone at Lollypop became a marketer along with our clients. Our blogs were written by in-house designers, our visual content for social channels came from in-house designers, basically everything.
There is much more to the making of brand Lollypop but the above steps laid a strong foundation to the path ahead. Our clients had loved the art of storytelling so much that we were invited a couple of time for consulting them on marketing. Though we do not provide this service in-house, we abided by their requests as relationships go both ways. We do hope that you liked this story, do leave us a comment if you agree with the thoughts about marketing! And, thank you for the read, means a lot.