Business success is certainly about being at the right place at the right time. Luck plays a role too. But the real driver of business success is sound strategy. That is where business owners can draw valuable lessons from successful global brands. Today I want to talk about Coca Cola and the lessons ecommerce businesses can draw from Coke’s advertising.
On the face of it, there is little similarity between a beverage giant and ecommerce businesses. But peel one layer of that onion and similarities start to manifest. For one, the actual offering of both is fairly undifferentiated. Despite that, in both cases, effective communication can make a big difference. Also, Coca Cola is as much a global phenomenon as most ecommerce businesses would wish to be. So what are the lessons ecommerce businesses can learn from Coca Cola?
Just speak to the customer: don’t speak up or speak down.
Take a look at the evolution of Coca Cola’s tag lines, from “Delicious and Refreshing” in 1886, to “Things go Better with Coca-Cola” in 1963. And from “It’s the Real Thing,” used often since 1942, to “Welcome to the Coke side of life” in 2006, you will notice that all of Coca Cola’s tag lines are in simple, everyday English — no smarty-pants wording or clever puns. They use the same language that their customers use.
That is an invaluable lesson right there. If you want to strike a chord with your customer, just talk to them — plain and simple.
Target your marketing communication to the right audience.
Focusing on your message without first targeting the right audience is an exercise in futility. And that is one more lesson you can learn from Coca Cola’s global advertising. Is it a coincidence that middle-class teens, Coke’s target audience, is one of the fastest growing consumer segments globally?
It’s a case of finding a worthy battle, and then going out and winning it. There are many product lines, customer segments, territories, and price points that you may want to target. Make sure you choose one where conquest will be sweet.
Strong brands are consistent.
While Coca Cola adapted its tag line to the popular sentiment of the time, its logo script has remained virtually unchanged in about one and a half century. Coca Cola is written in almost exactly the same way today as it was in the late nineteenth century. How’s that for a consistent branding message?
As an ecommerce business, you do not have to take this lesson literally. Surely you can change your logo script, or for that matter the entire logo, if that is what you choose to do. But you should ensure that your brand communication is consistent. Your ecommerce brand stands for something specific. Make sure the customer never doubts that.
Stay current with the instruments of advertising and communication.
Up until two decades ago, Coca Cola’s advertising was all about buying TV, radio, and print advertising. Today Coke has taken to digital media like fish to water. Be it social platforms, content marketing, videos, or websites, their marketing assault has left no stone unturned.
While ecommerce businesses may not have Coke’s advertising budget, one can certainly admire the nimbleness with which a legacy brand is able to adapt to new media.
Adapt the offering to the advertising.
Advertising is not about convincing customers that garbage is gold. That would be running a scam. Contemporary food and beverage advertising has to deal with a more health conscious consumer. So, instead of trying to tell the customer that Coca Cola is extremely nutritious, the company went ahead and created health-oriented drinks, too.
Likewise, instead of trying to force one’s offering down the customer’s throat, ecommerce businesses should come up with products that suit the customer’s preferences.
I could go on singing praises to Coca Cola’s global advertising strategy, but that is not the point. What I want ecommerce businesses to focus on is that getting your marketing communication aligned with customer preferences is key. The rewards can be staggering, the least of which is continued existence a century later — how many ecommerce companies can really say that they will be around even a decade later?
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