We live in a world where we are bombarded by marketing every single second. From the ads that ruin our TV nights to the in-app notifications and offers, we seem to be stalked by a company or another that tries to sell us something. The problem with marketing is that it got a bad reputation in the last years, as the regular consumer feels it is intrusive, invasive or simply annoying – this is why ad blockers happen.
Nonlinear marketing comes as an answer to this problem. It is a different, integrated and friendlier approach that allows the convergence of best of both worlds: traditional marketing campaigns (everything from TV ads to in-app ads) and offline marketing (advertising for the brand as a whole, as it would be a person trying to make new friends).
Besides the very short attention span people have nowadays, there is a growing trend which cannot be ignored: people are more willing to buy from a company they trust, that makes them feel valued, that listens to them, and that makes them a part of the company’s life.
This is how business storytelling strategies have emerged, and they are just the tip of the iceberg. But the best way to understand nonlinear marketing and its power of bringing companies and people closer, let’s take a look at three businesses that use this approach with stellar results.
The first thing that crosses your mind when you think about Starbucks may be their wide variety of drinks, but the second is the “Starbucks experience,” and this is nonlinear marketing at its best.
Starbucks doesn’t just invest in online marketing campaigns, Facebook ads, Twitter storms and cool Instagram hyperlapse campaigns – it also invests in brick & mortar marketing and real, human social marketing.
So let’s take a look at how Starbucks approaches the nonlinear trend.
- Product development: The Starbuck’s portfolio includes a wide regular drinks and food portfolio, complemented by seasonal drinks, local culture-inspired drinks and plenty of products suggested directly by its customers. MyStarbucksIdea is a platform, and people are more than willing to share their ideas with others, becoming a true community of Starbucks fans and engaging with the company in every way possible.
- Online Marketing: Starbucks has introduced a seasonal drink called Pumpkin Latte, and it integrated this approach with the newest feature of Instagram – hyperlapse videos, offering their Gen-Y customers friendly imagery of dry leaves and pumpkins to advertise their new latte and bring people into their stores.
- Stores: Starbucks is concerned with every single detail when it comes to its stores: from the sofas’ design to the music you can listen to while you’re there.
- New Social Media: Starbucks was the first company to tap into the advertising power of Tumblr, appearing as the “Sponsored Tumblr Dot” on National Coffee Day, also featuring a changed logo. This approach sparked plenty of social buzz and there is no better place to speak about Starbucks than a Starbucks store over a cup of coffee.
- Global Branding: The “Meet me at Starbucks” campaign focused not on the brand, but on the people that actually keep the brand The idea was to feature real stories of people who met at a Starbucks location somewhere in the world and present a 30-second mini-documentary. The documentary is two years old and has over 1 million views on YouTube.
- Other important nonlinear strategies: Starbucks offers premium perks to premium customers, plenty of free drinks with special occasions (selected customers’ birthdays), permanent customer surveys, feedback and dialogue (via the community pages and forums), corporate social responsibility campaigns, sponsorships, technological processes and human resources, all developed to offer the customer an engaging experience, no matter if the client enters a shop or browses their website.
In comparison to Starbucks, Red Bull doesn’t have stores or mobile payment apps. It didn’t even change its logo in ages and doesn’t invest in branded merchandise. What Red Bull does in terms of nonlinear marketing is different, mind-blowing and aimed to break everything we know about marketing in general. Of course, this is not the best example if you are a small/medium sized enterprise trying to cut costs, but it is a model to follow in case you want to diversify and integrate your marketing strategies, no matter how small scale they are.
- Patronage: Red Bull invests in athletes, extreme sports events, and art festivals.
- Diversified marketing portfolio: For Red Bull, everything works — TV ads, content creation, use of influencers, traditional online marketing, free sampling, entertainment programs offered from the goodness of their hearts
- Creation of their own media channel: All companies have a website, but when Red Bull came up with Redbullstratos and Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic freefall from 120,000 feet, Red Bull changed the game in marketing for everybody. The marketing of the event was done before the event and after, including traditional and digital promotion channels.
- Investing in a slogan: Red Bull gives people wings for eons now, and the slogan is so powerful and so well known, they are not likely to change it anytime soon.
Put together high-quality spicy rum, a brilliant package design, a truly amazing call for action and offline + online marketing campaigns and you have the holy grail of nonlinear marketing and one of its flagship carriers: Kraken Rum.
The company tapped into multiple channels to create a powerful brand that people are more than happy to engage with and, of course, buy its products.
- Theme: The “Release the Kraken” slogan accompanies all marketing efforts, turning into a catch phrase that goes beyond the realm of the movie it was inspired from.
- Design: When they launched, they knew they wanted a simple, yet mysterious design that was not cluttered but essential to the theme. This is how they appealed to design buffs, getting their first target audience on board while offering a messaging platform to build off of.
- Offline Marketing: Speaking of nonlinear marketing at its best, Kraken Rum has a huge mural in Brooklyn challenging fans to compare their size with that of the Kraken. Moreover, people are also enticed to post the pictures they take with the Kraken mural on Instagram using the hashtag #KrakenHugeness.
- Digital Marketing: In addition to their giant mural, Kraken Rum has its own YouTube channel dedicated to the anatomy, legends, stories and cultural references related to the Kraken. Needless to say, the YouTube videos are shared via social media. With around 500,000 Facebook page likes and an active community on other media platforms, it is safe to say that Kraken knows its marketing.
- Mobile App: Kraken Rum also offers people the chance of playing a mobile app game, navigate the seas and face plenty of epic The game is not Candy Crush, but it keeps people engaged with the brand at all times.
- Find the Kraken Facebook map: The map shows all the countries and states where people can find the Kraken for purchase.
- Video Marketing: Besides the legend of the Kraken, the company also offers a wide range of video recipes on how to make cocktails based on their rum.
- Branded merchandise: From tote bags to baseball caps, the merchandise not only builds brand awareness but make the company enough money to invest in further nonlinear marketing campaigns.
What Can You Learn from Them?
Forget for a second that such companies have huge budgets to rely on when engaging in their nonlinear marketing strategies. The lessons you need to remember here are simple: mix the product, the price, the location (if any), the design, the online marketing, and the offline advertising to make people feel entertained, engaged, valued and respected. Make them come to you no matter if you start by writing them personalized emails on their birthdays, offering them a free product or a discount or if you go the full ten yards and fill up the walls in your town with murals.
Author bio: Amanda Wilks is a Boston University graduate and a Digital Marketing Strategist. She has a great interest in everything related to content marketing, online marketing and corporate and personal branding.