Brand recognition in the twenty-first century is an uphill battle, but with a bit of forethought, any brand can position itself where the users are. The hardest part is engaging the users and getting their feedback. This is something that GE has managed to do successfully.
Using Reddit (one of the most difficult social media platforms for brand recognition) as its base, GE has managed to woo users to their side by providing high quality content consistently, so much so that their e-zine GE Reports is now considered as relevant and important as older publications in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field. But how exactly did GE manage to do this? How did they place themselves in such a great position compared to their peers? Their strategy is both admirable and inspiring, doing all the things content producers should be doing right.
A Big Secret: Knowing the Audience
When GE set off on the task of making its brand known for something, they first had to figure out the audience they were creating content for. GE is an engineering company at heart and the obvious audience for them would be engineers and other professionals in STEM fields.
The things that interest these types of readers are not what you would consider mainstream content. GE, being a leader in innovation, realized that their audience was made up of people who wanted to know what was going on in science and technology around them.
And so GE’s brand marketing strategy was born.
GE started producing a series of articles that recapped and encapsulated new discoveries in the field of science and technology in a way that was accessible, not only to STEM professionals, but to anyone who had an interest in new discoveries. What they discovered was that although a large percentage of their core audience were STEM professionals, there were as many readers that were laymen tuning into their content since it was so approachable. The key behind this easy entry was the type of writing that was involved to build these articles.
Human Interest Factor: 3 Methods GE Won At Doing
GE Reports doesn’t go the traditional route of science reporting. Rather, they focus on the individuals behind the discoveries. What motivated them? What made them decide to explore this particular field of interest? Dry science writing went out with the 80’s and more science and technology magazines were focusing on a different style of science writing: one that sees the inventors and researchers as people first. Human interest stories always get mileage, but combining it with technological breakthroughs was a master stroke of genius.
- Channels of Interaction: Success With Email? Marketing a brand is about marketing its message and for a brand to become recognized, it needs to get its name out there. Paid channels of marketing isn’t usually a major factor for GE Reports. Most of its users know about it from Reddit or from Twitter, thanks to the massive following on the social media sites. Facebook also figures into its equation, but the surprise factor in GE Reports marketing strategy is its use of email subscriptions.GE knows email is old school, but they also know that their impact comes from personal interaction and bringing out the human side of a story. Email allows for far more interaction with an individual on a personal level and goes hand in hand with their article style. Email gives GE Reports personality and that is something a lot of brand marketing seems to lack these days.
- Loyalty is a Major Seller. Recently, the thinking behind social media for large marketing companies is to sink a lot of money into a targeted ad campaign. This doesn’t win over an audience, but simply “rents” them. At the end of the campaign it’s unlikely that that same audience would care to purchase from that brand again. It relies heavily on gimmicks and the ability to go for a quick sell. GE’s strategy is the complete opposite. GE Reports focuses on building a community as opposed to simply renting an audience, something that can be very useful to GE in the long run.
Why Are Loyal Users Important?
Going back to the idea of understanding an audience, the more you interact with an audience is the more likely you are to understand them and the more able you are to spot content that would sit well with them. In addition to that, GE serves as a hub for the latest news and opinions on the cutting edge of science. By cultivating a community, they ensure that not only readers are able to get the information they want to read, but that media outlets are clued in to what is the “next big thing”. This makes them as much of an authority site as any other science and technology outlet that has been in existence for years, all because of their dedicated community that shares and adds to the rich tapestry that is their user base.
- It’s not about Quantity, It’s About Quality. The thing that sets GE’s brand marketing strategy apart from those of their competitors (and indeed, anyone else in the field of brand marketing) is their dedication to the delivery of quality content. Good content is any entry that enriches the user in some way, either by teaching them something new, informing them of a development or giving them an opinion on something that is worth talking about. GE fulfils this demand admirably, consistently delivering content that appeals to its user base without compromising the usefulness of the content.
Isn’t Brand Marketing about Marketing?
Brand marketing isn’t simply about marketing, and that’s where a lot of brand marketers fall woefully short. GE goes about brand marketing via another more traditional route. They include their marketing into their content, but their content comes first and the marketing aspect comes after. The idea of a marketing blog should be to inform and enrich your readers before you start working on them as potential customers. This is another interesting point when it comes to user loyalty (as mentioned above). A user that is loyal to GE because of GE Reports is more likely to put money on a GE product than any other brand, simply because of the enrichment GE Reports brings to his or her life.
GE’s Impact on the Population
So how do we know that GE is getting through to this mass of users that they claim are reading their posts? Although it may seem as though GE Reports is getting a lot of traffic, the numbers of subscriptions also measure up to scrutiny. GE sends out more than fifteen thousand emails to subscribers every time a new article is posted. As far as reach is concerned, that’s huge in terms of organic numbers. When you factor in how many of those people share, like and tweet those stories and the branching effect of social media relationships the reach is immense in scope.
The other way that GE can measure its population impact is from their newsworthiness. News agencies turn to GE Reports as an authoritative site on the news of the STEM world. By getting the leads from GE Reports, these sites can then go on to research and create their own content (yet another benefit of a community of loyal readers). By seeing their own stories covered in the mainstream STEM news, GE can safely say that it has quite an impact on the world today.
Through the middle of January, GE Reports was seeing three hundred thousand unique visitors. For any type of brand marketing site that is a huge number and although that represents a single month, GE has the potential to do it again, since they have done it before. Their power comes both from the way they build their content and the places they market it. Maybe email marketing isn’t such a thing of the past after all.
What Does GE Do That Others Don’t?
GE has forgotten about the old-style press release that so many larger brand marketing professionals stick to as the gospel. By avoiding this method of interaction with the audience, they are able to reach further and to capture a larger, more attentive readership. Their style of writing is different, more engaging than that of their competitors. The information they present is accurate and timely. All of these contribute to having a loyal readership with thousands of subscriptions and hundreds of thousands of readers on a monthly basis. Whatever they are doing, even though it’s not traditionally brand marketing, is certainly working for them, according to Contently.
4 Things that GE Does You Can Do, Too
If you’re looking to build a better brand marketing image then you should really consider how these have worked for GE so far:
- Know your audience and write for them.
- Create high quality content.
- Don’t confine your marketing aims to social media, but rather branch out.
- Build a loyal readership and user base to fall back on.
GE has a plan that has made it one of the most successful brands in the world.
By building on their success and patterning yourself after them there is no way that you can fail to achieve the same sort of results. All it takes is dedication to the goal and the time to see it through.
Photo credit: Mashable.com