Brands Who Did It Right in 2016

(and How To Help Your Small Business)

Has 2016 felt like a long, slow train wreck to anyone else? There’s been an undeniable chaotic energy to the entire year. The world of marketing wasn’t immune to the messiness and upheaval either. In 2016, the marketing industry went through a period of trying it all to see what worked, with many industry leaders even having differing opinions about best strategies. As the year came to a close, a few brands and thought leaders emerged, having carved out simple strategies that worked.

As we enter 2017, it seems one word will prevail when it comes to marketing efforts: simplicity. No more throwing it all at the wall and crossing your fingers that something sticks. We’re entering the year of getting back to basics, of remembering the forest over the trees. However, this simplicity isn’t meant to be reductive. Maybe savvy simplicity is a better way to put it. The coming year will be about having a few smart, tight plans that work. Doesn’t that sound nice?

We do realize, however, that it can seem hard to apply marketing strategies to your own business, particularly if you own a small business. It can often seem like you’re too busy being in survival mode to initiate a new plan to thrive. We’ve got your back. We studied some of the biggest winners of 2016 to see what exactly they did right and how you can apply it to your own company. Hint: there’s a theme that’s going to direct us all in the new year.


The Winner: Dollar Shave Club

If you’re not familiar with Dollar Shave Club, it’s an online, subscription-based service that delivers razors to your doorstep when you need them at a reasonable cost. How did a razor delivery service become so hot in 2016? Bought a razor at the store recently? The team behind Dollar Shave Club recognized a small, seemingly simple need. Most adults buy razors on a regular basis. Most stores know this and sell razors at high prices.

Make It Yours

Dollar Shave Club utilized what’s called removing the friction. People need razors, but they don’t like having to remember to buy them or pay high prices. So, the company removed the middleman and gave control to the consumer. They found something small but necessary and made it easier, and for that, they recieved customer loyalty. Is there some way to make your product or service easier to use or receive in 2017? Can you cut out unnecessary steps or cater to overlooked needs? Imagine yourself as your customer. What’s going to make your life simpler and remove the hassle?


The Winner: Coca Cola

If you haven’t seen Coca Cola’s individualized labels, you maybe didn’t set foot in a store this past year. Coca Cola upped its tactic of creating personal labels, printing labels that featured names, messages, and groups. Consumers were sucked into playing the game of finding a Coke with their name on it, buying one for a friend, or bringing themed bottles to a gathering. It felt like a special, personal touch made just for them, and they wanted to participate in the fun. What Coca Cola did was make the product personal by thinking about their customer personas, and the success didn’t take long to be evident.

Make It Yours

Can you state what your customer personas are right this second? If not, that’s an issue to address moving forward. Having a good grasp on your customer base is essential when trying to customize your products and services to your audience. Take some time to think about this. Who’s your target demographic? Are you sure? Do you revisit this often to see if it has changed? Get to know your customers well, and customize your offerings to them as much as possible.


The Winner: Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods is arguably the most successful of all grocery store chains that lean toward providing healthier food and lifestyle products. What sets it apart from the competition? Its approach to content marketing. Whole Foods puts an emphasis on not just selling healthier products, but on educating its customers on why these products are healthier, how they affect people’s lives, and what makes them more beneficial than the next store’s product. By doing this, Whole Foods show its customers that it cares and wants to be a partner in changing customers’ health and habits. The chain proved it wanted to make a lasting change in its customers’ lives, and those customers thanked it by being loyal Whole Foods shoppers.

Make It Yours

This tactic is about investing in your customers on a human level. It’s about taking care of them. Whole Foods remembered something important: shoppers weren’t coming to their store because they offered x, y, and z products. Those products could likely be found elsewhere anyway. Shoppers were coming because they were motivated by why they wanted those products: to live a healthier life. Whole Foods provided that educational content along with the products. When you think about your services or products, do you stop to consider why your customer is looking for them in the first place? This piece of the puzzle is the key to appealing to your customers on a more personal level, to showing them you care about their needs and goals and are with them on the journey to fulfilling them. Check out our last blog post to learn more about content marketing and how it can help you reach more customers. 


The Winner: AirBnB

The hotel industry took a hit in 2016 with the rise in travelers seeking out AirBnB properties for their overnight stays. AirBnB allows people who have a vacant property to list them online for searchers seeking a place to stay while traveling. How is that different than a hotel? Well, for starters, it’s people working in collaboration with other people on a more direct, relatable level. There’s more intimacy to it than seeking out a hotel. One huge tactic AirBnB employs is letting its community handle a lot of the marketing. Their site heavily encourages reviews, they run features on their top-rated hosts, and they’re extremely active on social media. They created a community, and then let that community do the word-spreading for them.

Make It Yours

Community-led content can go a long way to help your brand. Allowing for product and service reviews, featuring testimonials, and bringing people together on social media are powerful ways to foster business-boosting intimacy. Consumers want to hear from other consumers. They trust one another more than they trust you. They want to see that you have a loyal following, that people like what you offer, and that the opinions about what you’re offering come from real people just like them. How can you give your customers more of a voice in 2017? How can you let them advertise for you more? Here’s a head start: If you’re not yet active on social media, you should be. 


The Common Theme

Notice a pattern here? The theme of these strategies that worked is that all of these companies focused in on their customer. They thought about what the customer really needed and how they could make it simpler. They recognized who their customers were and appealed directly to them. They positioned themselves to be a partner in their journeys, and then they gave their customers the platform to tell each other about it.

The year of the customer is upon us. Let go of the need to force your customer into adapting to what you want, and focus on adapting your business to what your customer wants. This is something we at Textivia have been thinking about a lot lately, so if you need help getting started, let’s work on this in 2017 together. Visit our site or call us at (888) 408-9847 to create a marketing plan for your business in the new year!