Today, marketers have no shortage of options for engaging and strengthening relationships with their audiences online. Almost every quarter, a new social media platform comes out that leaves communication professionals questioning if their brand should be active in the new space. What guiding principles keep our messages from getting lost?

“A brand must first decide what experience they want customer to have,” said Joe Alfidi, director of Global Go to Market programs for DC Shoes. “Do not just talk at the customer but show them the benefit of coming back to you.”

For the AMA Houston April Academy, keynote speaker Alfidi shared examples of how brands set themselves apart across the marketing channels.

Marketers in any industry build trust between their brand and audience by providing reliable expertise. Footwear industry leaders tap into sneakerhead culture, a segment of shoe enthusiasts who collect high-end and rare sneakers. Ronnie Fieg, the owner and designer of footwear shop Kith NYC, only has two retail stores but has built a massive following through small special collections. Fieg has created a refined in-store experience that he continues with an active social media and blog presence. Alfidi said people look to Fieg as the “CNN of footwear” and trust his timely knowledge.

Think your product is too technical for social media? Alfidi suggests you think again. Kaspersky Lab, a cybersecurity and antivirus provider, found a fun way to make their product engaging. Their Facebook strategy is a mix of fairly dry internet safety articles, blog posts and product news, but on Instagram they let loose. The team’s regular travel to global technology conferences provide ample opportunities to share beautiful scenery and the quirky exhibits they see along the way. Tron, Pokémon and Star Wars references are used liberally and give the brand an accessible way to engage with their audience’s techie tastes. The few branded images that promote their product are created as infographics and add value. Kaspersky’s Instagram and Facebook strategies are channel-specific but both support the overall brand story.

After the keynote speaker presentation, Academy attendees were able to choose from a roundtable of topics that delved into specific marketing channels. I chose a session taught by KHOU local sales director, Lori Clark, who taught on navigating traditional and digital broadcast media. The focus of Clark’s presentation was on over-the-top (OTT) cord cutters, the group of 58 million viewers who have canceled their multichannel subscription television services for internet streaming. This change is fueled by younger people who don’t want to pay much for subscriptions and prefer to catch-up on "Pretty Little Liars" or "Empire" at their leisure. How do marketers reach this growing group? Pre-roll ads. The completion rate is as high as 95 percent and viewers are often watching on a big screen, which means the potential to reach more than one person. As technology advances, targeting is becoming more precise. Clark said it won’t be long before televisions will be able to tailor ads by voice recognition.

"Both the speaker, Joe, and the SEO roundtable leader, Beau, were good,” said Academy attendee Ali Asgher Sunelwala of Saifee Signs & Graphics, LLC. “Like always, when I come to these academy sessions I get to learn from the experts and have new ideas to implement in my business."

Join us for the AMA Houston May Academy on May 17 to hear special guest speakers Jillian Fortin, principal consultant of and Maggie Malek, head of public relations and social media, MMI Agency discuss the question of how to compete in dynamic, global markets with "Everything I Know about Marketing, I Learned from Justin Timberlake!"


Written by Jahmal Clemons, AMA Houston volunteer. Posted by Allegra Boutch, AMA Houston volunteer. 

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