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Brand building in the digital era

The following is a recap of my responses to questions that were provided for a Twitter chat I participated in with Wrk.

As marketers we know there are no “quick wins” when it comes to marketing in the digital age. Trends and best practices are changing every single day. This makes building and differentiating your brand even more difficult.

Overcoming marketing challenges in the digital era

Question 1: In the digital age, how would you say our role has changed and transformed overall from merely promoting and selling products when it comes to building a brand? 

As a marketer, when you’re promoting or selling products, you’re solving a need or customer pain point. A product is something your customers own. But a brand is bigger than that, it’s intangible ownership; it’s an outlook or lifestyle that your fans and followers are a part of.

Fundamentally, selling is different from brand building activities because building is by nature inclusive; you’re finding like minded people and creating a space for them to come together and a collective identity (your brand) to rally behind.

From an operations standpoint, it largely depends on where you “sit” within the org & whether or not you’re part of a marketing team. Are you a brand builder focused on awareness and activation activities in the market? Or are you on the product team focusing on delivering a great user experience when customers are shopping on your site or app?

Question 2: In today’s digital era, what are some of the biggest challenges that marketing professionals face today that they’ve never had to overcome before? 

I don’t think the obstacles have changed that much as much as the focus has shifted to place more prominence on the message being delivered. 

I heard this at the AdWorld conference recently by Ryan Deiss (and I’m paraphrasing)  the marketers mantra has been: right message, right time, right person. But today, the effort should be placed on the message. Meaning: the message itself has now become more important than the medium because brands can basically leverage any medium they want to reach their audience. It’s the message that needs to stand on its own.

I think today consumers expect a lot more from brands they spend money with. I’m part of the Millennial group – and we especially – expect the brands we back with our dollars to give back in a meaningful & measurable way, to demonstrate actions to eliminate things like climate change, or to to act more sustainably. Consumers expect brands to use their resources to make a difference for current and future generations.

Question 3: There is an old saying in the industry: “The medium is the message,” which means the forms of communication (or media) used to deliver information significantly impact the message. Does this still ring true today in the digital era? Why or why not? 

I think that’s flipped now: the message is now the most important component because mediums are largely a commodity.

There is so much opportunity to reach the right audience(s) with things like automation and paid search but if the message itself doesn’t resonate, it will get lost in the noise.  

Question 4: Technologies are advancing at break-neck speed, and while it can be a challenge to keep up, there are also unquestionable benefits for #marketers everywhere. What types of tools are helping you build your brand digitally today? 

I’m a search marketer at heart so I like any tool that can tell me what people are searching for, what time of year they’re searching for it, and what words or questions they’re using to find what they want.

I use a variety of tools that show me metrics like search volume and/or trends over time. Some of the paid tools are Google Keyword Planner (Google Ads) and SEMRush. The best free tools are Google Trends, in particular because it shows Search Interest over time for keywords or topics, and KW Finder that can be added to your Internet browser as an extension. Other tools I love and use are, which tells you what people search for and the words they use. For audience insights, I like SparkToro. I use Glimpse for discovering trends before they take off.  

Question 5: Now more than ever, it’s vital that marketers unite online to share insights and ideas. What are some digital channels that you use to stay connected?

I think marketers should dabble in lots of different digital channels to stay up with what’s going on and to learn what others are doing and to see where people are spending time. I pop in and out listening to topics in Clubhouse or on Twitter Spaces.

I subscribe to a handful of newsletters. My rule of thumb is that information you consume as a marketer should help you get a read on things in 3 ways: what’s going on internally for your industry, what’s happening externally and a high level view of the trends in the broader marketplace.  Here’s what I mean: in the SEO industry, I subscribe to a handful of newsletters like #SEOFOMO and Marie Haynes Consulting – Search News You Can Use, a few external sources are DTC newsletter and Ann Handley’s newsletter, and sources that are going to help me get a broader marketplace perspective (my go-to currently is CNN’s 5 Things daily newsletter).

What sources help you stay connected? Tweet to me at @millertime_baby.

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