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Brand Marketing vs. Funnel Marketing: What’s the Difference?

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You might’ve noticed that all of us at Wistia have been talking more and more about brand marketing. Our view — as we outline in our Brand Affinity Marketing Playbook — is that the next stage of investment in video marketing will be long-form, serialized content designed to increase brand affinity. And when it comes to brand marketing, this method is a different type of investment than the one you’d make in typical, straight-forward digital advertising. Let’s take a look at the differences between brand marketing and funnel marketing and why you might want to invest more in your brand.

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Brand marketing is the investment in marketing activities designed to associate imagery, ideas, and feelings with a brand in the mind of consumers. It typically takes the form of creative content that’s distributed through advertising, organic channels — or both.

It’s not a new concept. Brand marketing, in various forms, has compromised the lion’s share of investment in marketing since the 1950s. TV, print media, and billboards are all created in an effort to tell a story and increase emotional connections between a consumer and a business. It’s how most established major businesses have built a name for themselves.

But the promise of more trackable, directly attributable advertising and marketing activity, led by innovations in CRM and digital advertising over the past 15 years, has shifted the default approach to marketing most new businesses now take.

Typically defined as performance marketing, inbound marketing, or digital marketing, the new “funnel-centric” approach starts with the premise that potential customers go through a linear process called the “buyer’s journey.”

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Image credit: HubSpot

The idea is that businesses can — and should — reach their users (“prospects”) at each stage of this journey, providing appropriate guidance at each point that eventually leads to users choosing their product or service.

The growth of the buyer’s journey mentality has ensured businesses move away from one-size-fits-all messaging, toward offering more targeted and focused offerings for individuals based on their particular situational needs.

However, it’s also meant that a huge number of small businesses today aren’t doing any brand marketing at all. The shared thought is that brand marketing is something big companies invest in, which smaller companies can afford to avoid, since an investment in targeted and specific messaging will yield returns more efficiently than expensive creative content.

Brand marketing and funnel marketing essentially use the same tactics, with different foundational strategies. Both heavily rely on using content to acquire users via search, social media, advertising, and email. But, they differ in terms of the audience, the intention, and the success metrics.

“They differ in terms of the audience, the intention, and the success metrics”

Let’s compare:

Funnel Marketing Brand Marketing
Audience is potential customers Audience is potential influencers
Goal is to drive conversions Goal is to drive engagement
Reach people when they’re looking for solutions to problems your product solves Reach people when they’re looking for general information and entertainment
Convince people of the value of your product or service Explore an idea or topic your audience cares about
A focus on acquiring leads A focus on acquiring fans and subscribers

While funnel marketing treats each new user as a potential new customer on the first step of their journey, brand marketing treats each new user as a potential advocate who can further spread a company’s message.

“Brand marketing treats each new user as a potential advocate who can further spread a company’s message.”

Funnel marketing, therefore, focuses on nurturing new users as individuals, with a single end goal for each user (revenue). Brand marketing, on the other hand, treats users as members of many different communities, providing an opportunity to further amplify a brand message through word-of-mouth.

Relying solely on conversion-oriented investments has several flaws.

The modern buyer’s journey relies much more on word-of-mouth than individual research

With the growth of private, ad-free social messaging platforms, more than ever, consumers are researching products on platforms that marketers can’t see or track — in a phenomenon ominously (and excellently) called “dark social.”

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For example, if I want to buy a new monitor for video editing, my first step is not to search Amazon or Google, but instead to text Wistia’s ultimate gear-head, Chris Lavigne. And if I want to find a new small-business banking service, I don’t start with searching comparison sites, but instead sending a message to a Whatsapp group of self-employed friends from college.

This trend isn’t only reserved for B2C businesses; it holds true for B2B investments, too. If I want to buy a new rank tracking software to provide data for some marketing dashboards, I won’t shop around. I’ll just ask for tips in a private Technical SEO Slack community.

In all of these cases, I’ve bypassed the awareness and consideration stages of the funnel, and gone straight to the decision phase before any business had the chance to market to me at all.

Google and Facebook completely control what’s left of the funnel

As pointed out in this study, the big tech giants are steadily taking over the entirety of the buyer’s journey, and filling it with ads. One of the smartest strategic plays of Google and Facebook over the last few years has been to convince marketers that all marketing investments are now quantifiable, all the while ensuring the only truly quantifiable activity available are ads on Facebook and Google. The removal of keyword data from Google Organic referrals (i.e., not provided) in 2011 was the first stage of this, and more and more control has been asserted ever since.

Both Google and Facebook seem to share the goal of being a one-stop-shop for advertising and marketing, where marketers can go to buy access to an audience of potential customers, and reach them efficiently with appropriate messages for their stage in the buyer’s journey. And, they’re doing a very good job of it. The problem is that this trend involves all businesses being completely reliant on just two giant businesses to survive, at which basic rules of the market mean advertising costs are going to increase significantly, punishing any business that hasn’t been able to break away from the “pay-to-play” model.

As the adage goes, you get what you measure. And if you only measure the value of content in terms of its contribution to a sale, you’re going to inevitably start shifting all your creative energies towards things that look like ads and product videos.

Even if the desire initially is to do something more creative and entertaining (perhaps under the framing of “top of funnel” content), measuring success based on sales will mean you end up wanting to include product value propositions in everything you do — hampering the initial intent and its efficacy.

Success with brand marketing relies on two things: consumption and conversation.

1. Consumption: Are people engaging with your content and message?

2. Conversation: Are people talking about your content and message with others?

Obviously, to start with, you need to have a great message and brand identity.

Need help getting started? Ogilvy’s Big Idea framework is a great resource if you need help refining your brand identity.

Once you have a solid message and identity, the challenge then becomes how you can maximize consumption and conversation with your creative assets and distribution:

Creative

Creatively, you need to come up with something that will get people talking. Word-of-mouth relies on galvanizing communities and subcultures, which you can achieve by targeting a niche audience.

Distribution

On the distribution side, you need to get in front of people in the places they’re looking for distractions, like social media. You also need to make sure whatever you’re creating captures the attention of anyone who comes across it and captivates them enough to keep exploring, all while providing sufficient reason for sharing — on both private and public platforms. At Wistia, we believe the best way to achieve all this is by marketing like a media company, which, in short, means marketing your content like a product.

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One of the reasons why businesses are reluctant to invest more in brand marketing activities is that the return is inherently much less directly measurable. For example, If you spend $10,000 on PPC ads, and implement a sensible attribution model (e.g., linear or time-decay), you can arrive at a very straightforward “money in, money out” figure. This then makes justifying further investment very straightforward, since you can say with an extremely high degree of confidence that this activity will be worthwhile.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for brand marketing activities, where the direct benefit is in changing the way people think and feel about you — something which doesn’t necessarily manifest itself outside of the minds of consumers. So, to effectively measure brand marketing, we have to use a series of proxies which likely represent a shift in attitude and behavior. But the one, single most important metric to quantify value from Brand Marketing is time spent with your brand.

While funnel marketing has helped dictate our strategies in the past, it isn’t the best way to build a lovable brand in the future. When it comes down to it, if you want to grow your brand, you need to combine funnel marketing with Brand Affinity Marketing, investing in tactics that increase word-of-mouth and create more meaningful relationships with your customers.

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Video Marketing

7 Fashion-Forward Video Series to Keep Your Eye On

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Who said videos about fashion were only made for the big screen? The Devil Wears Prada might be a pretty high standard to live up to, but in reality, tons of brands are already making innovative shows and video series to help move their businesses forward.

In fact, we recently stumbled upon four fashion-focused brands that are all creating entertaining, binge-worthy video series, that even Meryl Streep herself might be interested in watching. Businesses like Vans, Refinery29, Marc Jacobs, and Foot Locker stood out to us as top-dogs in the branded content space because their shows are so clearly focused on attracting a niche audience, which is a key part of executing an effective brand affinity marketing strategy. Plus, they’re just plain fun to watch!

Who doesn’t love a good surf video? Have you ever wondered what it really means to be a “sneakerhead”? Take a look at what these creative brands put out into the world and get some insights into what you can do at your business to make an awesome series yourself!

We bet you know someone in your life who owns a fresh pair of Vans. But if you’re not familiar with the brand, Vans is the original action sports footwear, apparel, and accessories brand promoting creative self-expression in youth culture across action sports, art, music and street culture.

Vans decided to showcase those company values with a video series called Weird Waves, which follows the gnarly journey of Dylan Graves as he introduces viewers to “the weirder side of surf culture and the characters who chomp weird waves.” In two seasons, he links up with people from the underground side of the surf scene to ride everything from waves in wintery Great Lakes to waves formed by falling ice in Alaska. This show is no joke — things get weird!

To successfully showcase what their brand stands for, Vans identified the perfect brand ambassador to be the host for an engaging binge-worthy series. While not everyone can relate to riding waves in unthinkable places like Dylan Graves and his friends, viewers can be entertained and identify with how Vans is a champion of creative self-expression.

In a more fashion-focused realm, Refinery29 is an online media and entertainment hub that appeals to young women who may be interested in style, health, careers, technology, and a whole lot more. To pique the interests of their target audience, they’ve created an award-winning video series called Style Out There exploring “the connections between clothing, community, and culture across the world.”

Style Out There features hosts Asha Leo and Connie Wang as they travel the world to learn more about “the ways clothing has given women a way to speak out, look within, and identify the forces that limit their potential.” In season one, watch Leo dig into Decora style in Tokyo and how it goes against the mainstream, or jump ahead to season three and learn about Afrofuturist fashion with Wang and why it’s more than just a costume for black women.

For someone interested in style, this series goes deeper than the outward appearance of an outfit or accessory. It shows the significance of fashion for people to express themselves around the world.

Now, if you’ve ever wondered what the inner workings of a high fashion label look like days before a runway show, check out Marc Jacobs’ The Making of RUNWAY.

This six-part series follows Marc himself, Joseph Carter, Creative Director of Runway, as well as many of the faces working to run the ship five days before Marc Jacobs’ February 13, 2019 show. From fittings and design meetings to set and music planning, they show you what it takes to make a fashion show a success.

Marc Jacobs is a world-renown brand, but the way they shot their behind-the-scenes footage could be pulled off by any company big or small. Whether you’re aspiring to work for Marc Jacobs or a fan of the brand, this simple series gives you an authentic look at the people, the work, and the creativity that makes Marc Jacobs what it is.

In the fashion industry, Patagonia is famous not only for leading the fight against climate change but also for spearheading the binge-worthy content movement with their visually stunning and thought-provoking documentary series.

To promote their signature line of work-friendly attire, they blended their passion for the environment with the art of storytelling to craft a video series called Workwear.

In this seven-part video series, you’ll meet farmers, eco-friendly automotive technicians, conservationists, fishermen, and more to learn what drives them to work so hard day in and day out and how they protect the environment while doing so.

Even though Workwear is meant to promote Patagonia’s line of work clothing, they don’t draw any direct attention to their products.

Instead, Patagonia focuses on the real reason each person in the video series chooses to make an honest living. And with over 2.5 million views on YouTube, they’ve reached and resonated with plenty of people who share the same “why” when it comes to their work.

Lululemon is an athletic apparel retailer with strong roots in yoga, running, and any other activity that makes you break a sweat and feel great. However, when they think about their marketing, they make sure not to just focus on the physical aspects of these activities. They also make sure to highlight the mental and emotional side of physical fitness.

To celebrate the International Day of Yoga, for example, Lululemon released a video series called Yoga Changed My Life to tell the stories of three people who used the power of yoga to overcome a traumatic experience.

From conquering teenage homelessness to a near-death experience due to a complication from Crohn’s disease, you’ll learn how powerful yoga can be for the mind, body, and soul.

Most athletic apparel retailers try to generate demand for their products by emphasizing the physical benefits of exercise, but Lululemon understands that truly resonating with an audience requires a message much more inspiring than that. You can’t just strive to look good — you also need to feel good.

Nike’s I Am Giannis tells the origin story of Giannis Antetokounmpo, a forward for the Milwaukee Bucks and one of the best basketball players in the NBA.

Giannis is known for having a strong work ethic and bulldog mentality that rivals the game’s most iconic players’. And after watching this five-part video series, you’ll quickly understand how his humble beginnings in Athens, Greece have fueled his fire to reach the upper echelon of the basketball world.

You can’t help but smile as you watch Giannis’s story unfold. From getting selected in the first round of the 2013 NBA draft to attracting thousands of Greek and Nigerian fans to each of his games to designing his own signature Nike shoe — the story is both uplifting and inspirational.

As marketers, we recognize that Nike knows how to tell a compelling story, especially with just a few words. But by venturing into long-form storytelling and spinning a narrative about one person’s life over 20 minutes of video content, they might have just told their best story yet.

After seeing the ideas these brands have come up with, we hope you’re feeling inspired to start creating a video series of your own! Start by figuring out what makes your brand unique and what your current audiences like about you. The next concept for the perfect video series could be right under your nose!

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5 Food and Beverage Video Series That’ll Make You Hungry for More Content

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Do you remember the iconic “how many licks” Tootsie Pops commercials from the 70s? What about the heartwarming snowman that thawed after eating a satisfying bowl of Campbell’s soup?

Many food and beverage brands are famous for their clever and memorable advertisements.

However, only a handful have taken their creativity to the next level and crafted full-scale video series that rival the very TV shows they place their ads with.

We’ve rounded up five of the best video series in the food and beverage world so you can draw inspiration for your next project. Read on to cook up some delicious ideas for your next show!

As the most popular energy drink in the world, Red Bull naturally gears its brand toward pro athletes who participate in extreme sports. One of the ways the company connects with this cohort is by crafting thrilling video series about the world’s most extreme athletes. From a video series about wingsuit fliers to one about the top athletes in their respective extreme sport, you can get your daily dose of adrenaline from a single episode.

But out of all of Red Bull’s video series, the arguably most compelling one is about the athletes who have overcome near-impossible odds to ascend to the heights of their extreme sport. It’s called The Way of the Wildcard.

In this wild video series, you’ll hear from a two-time cancer survivor who holds two world records in cycling, a former prisoner turned Iron Man triathlete, working-class brothers who won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics in rowing, and many more impressive athletes.

All of the stories in The Way of the Wildcard are naturally chock-full of conflict, which grips audiences from start to finish. And by showing audiences how these athletes achieved their dreams with the odds stacked against them, it inspires viewers to do the same.

Growing up, a day out with your friends during the summer usually included a swim at the pool, a bonfire, and a can of soda. Was there anything more carefree?

Coca-Cola wanted to tap into this nostalgia to forge a closer bond with their audience. Their bold idea? A video series called One Last Summer, which follows a group of incoming college freshmen as they enjoy their last summer together.

Throughout the four-part series, you’ll learn all about this friend group’s future plans, watch them cross off their summer bucket list, and navigate the complexities of their high school romances.

Each episode of One Last Summer focuses on a single character. This approach allows you to get to know them personally, understand the dynamic of their friend group, and understand why it’ll be bittersweet for them to split up when it’s time to go off to college.

One Last Summer is sure to transport you back to your most carefree days as a teenager — and it might even persuade you to crack open a Coke while you’re at it.

When you think of Cadbury, you most likely think of rich, creamy chocolate. And when you think of chocolate, you might reminisce on the good old days when your mom or dad would slip you a piece of chocolate after dinner.

That’s why Cadbury decided to create Families Reunited, a video series that aims to reconnect parents with their teenage children by giving parents a crash course on their children’s passions.

In this two-part video series of 20-minute episodes, you’ll watch a dad learn how to pop a wheelie on a BMX bike just like his son. Then, you’ll watch a mom learn how to conquer the ice and figure skate with her son. At the end of each episode, the parent ultimately proves to their kid that they’re not as different as they think. Even better, they can also spend time bonding over a shared passion.

Almost every parent goes through a rough patch with their kids, especially when they’re teenagers. But Families Reunited lets parents who have drifted from their kids know that they’re not alone. It also inspires them to truly understand their kids before they try to rekindle their relationships with them.

Known for their fun, playful brand identity, Taco Bell stuck to their guns when they released The Taco Bell Show. It’s a game show that features celebrities — including Drake Bell and Spencer Pratt — known and loved by Taco Bell’s young target audience.

On the show, the host and the guest celebrity play Taco Bell-inspired games, like “Diablo Dare.” It’s Truth or Dare, but instead of doing a dare, participants have to drench a tortilla chip in diablo sauce and eat it. What a creative way to plug two of their products into one game — kudos, Taco Bell!

The Taco Bell Show draws you in from the beginning by immediately informing you what it’s all about — a game show with celebrities. It then keeps you glued to your screen by having the celebrities play fun, creative games. If you ask us, that’s definitely a recipe for binge-worthy content success.

Another brand that leans on humor and lightheartedness, Kentucky Fried Chicken released a series of satirical Shark Tank-esque pitches for outlandish business ideas called KFC Innovations Lab. These ideas include Colonel on Ice, a bow tie that also serves as a GPS locator, and a walking cane that doubles as a remote control for your TV.

All of these pitches relate to KFC’s founder Colonel Sanders in a creative way, which makes the video series one of the funniest in the food and beverage industry. After watching it, you’ll laugh so hard that you’ll work up an appetite, and KFC hopes it’ll be for some of their famous fried chicken.

Crafting a creative and compelling video series is just like cooking. It’ll be hard. It’ll get messy. And there’s a chance you might burn the dish to a crisp. But, hopefully, with these examples, you can put together a recipe for a video series that will please your audience’s palate.

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Video Marketing

Announcing “Built to Last”: An Audio Conference from Buffer and Wistia

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If you’ve watched an episode of Brandwagon or tuned into our Change the Channel event last year, then you know there’s nothing we love more than talking to people about what it takes to build a great brand. And now, we’re super excited to continue that conversation with Buffer, a social media management platform, throughout Built to Last — a free audio-conference for brand builders.

Taking place on August 19 and 20, this first-of-its-kind conference will feature guests (including our very own Chris Savage!) from companies that are invested in building stronger brands and creating compelling content in all forms. If you’re looking to learn how to foster organic growth, take marketing risks, or develop an audience of engaged advocates — this conference is for you.

Attending a marketing conference once meant spending an entire day in a windowless ballroom or glued to your computer screen for hours on end. By leveraging the power of podcasts, our conference sessions will be available for your listening pleasure no matter what you’re up to.

Wait a minute — what does an “audio-conference” really mean?

We’re taking the concept of an in-person conference and delivering it as a podcast. Built to Last attendees will receive access to a private podcast feed where we’ll release seven episodes over the two-day conference. Each episode will feature lessons and insights to help you craft memorable content and campaigns that create devoted audiences.

By signing up to attend this conference, you’ll get access to the content in real-time or on-demand (with show notes!). We encourage listening while making a meal, getting some fresh air, or moving your body. In other words — you do you!

Beyond the podcast episodes, we’re encouraging attendees to join our private community to network with each other, participate in facilitated discussions, and interact with select speakers live. Simply sign up to attend Build to Last and you’ll be invited to join — simple as pie.

We hope you’ll join us for this interactive podcast experience. If you’re as pumped as we are, then head on over to the Buffer site to register, see the full list of speakers, and get all the conference details. Oh, and be sure to charge those headphones so you’re ready to rock ’n roll!

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