I don’t have a million-dollar marketing budget. No company starts with millions of dollars in their marketing budget. Show that people use your product and love it! They do this on Instagram every single day: You don’t need billions of dollars in your marketing budget to show customer appreciation and build loyalty by sharing UGC! But if we can learn anything from Coca-Cola and bring it back to the real world of small business, it’s this: Consistency is key. Although Coca-Cola spends billions of dollars every year on advertising, this lesson requires zero ad spend. That’s what content marketing is for. Or that 43% of people want to see more videos in marketing? They’re using content marketing. You don’t need a six-figure marketing budget to do it, either.
Every other day, it seems like big brands are launching some of the best marketing campaigns we’ve ever seen.
They’re pulling in millions upon millions of views.
Everyone is sharing them, and sales numbers are through the roof.
But as small business owners, we often think:
“Who cares? I don’t have a million-dollar marketing budget. Why does it matter to me?”
I know I often feel this way. However, it’s not always that simple.
No company starts with millions of dollars in their marketing budget.
No company starts out as an industry giant.
They grew from the ground up with similar tactics that they still use today. They were just like us once.
Sure, some of these companies got lucky. Some might have had insanely large investments to kickstart the business.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t trying every tactic in the marketing book to continually grow their company.
Small businesses and startups won’t be able to copy everything they do.
We can’t always create a huge marketing splash like Red Bull, or Nike, or Chipotle.
We simply don’t have the audience size and millions in spare cash to spend like they do.
However, you can adapt their strategies to fit your own marketing budget on a smaller scale.
Here are five lessons that million-dollar companies can teach you about online marketing.
1. Use user-generated content like Blue Apron
Blue Apron might be one of the biggest startups of the last decade.
Actually, make that half decade. They were only founded in 2012!
Blue Apron sells ready-to-cook meal kits.
They sell these meal kits online and deliver them directly to your doorstep.
They include everything from the recipe to the ingredients in the exact quantities that you’ll need.
That means all a customer has to do is cook those boxed ingredients based on the step-by-step instructions. No time-consuming, exhausting work required.
As of 2015, they were delivering over 5 million meals per month to their customers.
It’s safe to say that their growth was explosive.
And according to Greg Fitzgerald, the former director of acquisition marketing at Blue Apron, user-generated content (UGC) was a massive contributor to that success.
In a survey, 85% of users said that user-generated visual content was more influential than brand photos or videos.
On top of that, startup Yotpo found that ads featuring UGC can lead to a 4x higher click-through rates.
It’s no secret that UGC is a powerful motivating factor in building trust and credibility. Take a look at how Blue Apron creatively leveraged UGC by sharing “Love Stories” from its satisfied customers.
Blue Apron credits a ton of their success to social posts like this one.
To build more trust, they often feature current customers who loved their product. That also deepens the bonds of loyalty with existing buyers.
They even targeted high-end celebrities on social media to post natural, native ads.
Real people in a real environment are eating their food and enjoying the product! What a concept!
On top of that, they launched user-generated content campaigns on YouTube to some of the most popular influencers around.
Just look at all that positive engagement. How’d they do it?
They showed that real human beings can benefit from using their product in a natural way.
Now, as a small business, you obviously can’t afford to land most high-end influencers.
But that’s not the point.
The point is to share user-generated content. Show that people use your product and love it!
One of my favorite examples comes from Buffer. They do this on Instagram every single day:
You don’t need billions of dollars in your marketing budget to show customer appreciation and build loyalty by sharing UGC!
2. Sell without selling on social media like JetBlue
How on earth do you make something as boring as booking a flight entertaining?
How can such a boring industry leverage a platform like social media to drive sales?
By creating an atmosphere that lives and breathes their mission. For example, here’s JetBlue’s motto:
Now look below at the other airline mottos.
They’re all pretty decent. But they just communicate different outlooks for the brand.
Southwest is cheap and transparent.
Sure, that’s a great value proposition for tons of travelers. But it’s not very inspiring.
You can’t do a whole lot to use that in your advertising or marketing creatives.
JetBlue, on the other hand, is inspiring us to do more. Their motto conveys that they put the customer first.
“You above all.”
Most of all, they’re crafting a brand image that allows them to appeal to the deepest desires of travelers.
Most people want experiences, inspiration, and adventure when they hop on a plane.
JetBlue takes this to the next level. They go beyond the typical beach and scenic photos.
In fact, they partnered withLocaleur, a platform that connects travelers to places locals actually go in different cities.
They base it on local reviews and recommendations from residents.
All of that ties back perfectly into their motto of putting the customer first.
They want to connect people with authentic experiences that they can take advantage of the next time they fly.
It’s real, it’s authentic, and it goes deeper than the surface-level posts we see on social media every other day.
JetBlue clearly cares about the customer experience from start to finish.
They don’t just talk about it or plaster a slogan on banner ads. They try to live it.
And that sparks adventure and wanderlust. It makes people want to explore.
JetBlue owns social media because they sell without selling.
They trigger your inner travel desires without actually saying “book a flight now.”
They turn an otherwise boring industry into a masterpiece.
And you can too. Nobody wants to see social media marketing telling them to buy a product all day.
It has to be natural.
Plus, you don’t need an insane budget to succeed!
Just look at how Evernote does it: