How a fresh pastry avoids stale branding

Ever tried a Cronut? This delicious marriage between donut and croissant was consummated in 2013 by Dominique Ansel after someone remarked that his bakery did not offer donuts. Being French, and not familiar with donuts, Ansel created the Cronut after two months of experimenting. Following a positive review by New York restaurant blog Grub Street, which garnered 140,000 links overnight, the bakery’s website saw a 300 percent increase in traffic and a line of customers around the corner. Ansel’s pastry became the most viral dessert item to date.

How did Ansel deal with this immediate success? First, he trademarked his “Cronut,” aggressively tracking down pastry poachers and forcing them to rename their imitations as “Croissant Donut” or “New York Pie Donut.” Then, he leveraged the pastry’s popularity to raise thousands of dollars for New York food-based charities and open a larger bakery.

Several lessons can be learned here. First, marketing unknown or lesser known brands requires different strategies than brands that are easily recognized. In this case, the audience needed some education. The Cronut was introduced to the public by a respected and local food blog, creating instant demand. Ansel maintains this demand by producing only 350 Cronuts a day, leaving many people empty-handed, sometimes after waiting hours in line.

Successful marketing campaigns demand that you become active and remain current on the social media platforms your customers use. You have to know who they are and what motivates them. Be available to answer questions (on Reddit for example) and always try to preempt inquiries with videos, ads, or podcasts. More one-on-one interactions mean more brand loyalty—53 percent of Americans who follow brands on social media remain loyal. Use this time to create hashtags with your company’s logo and product to spread awareness.

Maintain that momentum with new, exciting, and engaging content. Don’t be afraid to keep it light, even humorous or musical – see Dollar Shave Club’s wildly successful ads. Create pay-per-click ads with keywords and phrases targeted to your company and products; don’t be afraid to pay more for traffic-boosting keywords.

Finally, use some of your marketing budget to outsource creative content. Graphics and videos are more user-friendly and may help introduce your audience to your product. Check out Melbourne’s metro system’s wildly successful safety campaign, Dumb Ways to Die. This animated campaign earned 77 million views within months of its release, spawning a video game that became the number-one free app in 101 countries, generating $60 million in revenue and a 21 percent reduction in railway traffic accidents.

Marketing a new product or service requires context, then content. Know your audience so you can answer their questions. You’ll look smarter, and sell smarter.

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