Usually when we talk about ourselves in relation to other companies, we always state that we consist of a team with "...years of experience in the vaping industry, superb customer service, and powerful marketing." Let's analyze what powerful marketing means in the vaping industry and how we've built ourselves to not only achieve such a level, but maintain it with relative ease.
This past Monday, we reposted an article by Adweek onto our LinkedIn. This particular article suggests that a 'Brilliantly Dumb' strategy can be effective and we made the comparison to ourselves and the marketing and media machine based on it. In fact, the conception of BLVK Unicorn was, at its very fundamental levels, a brilliantly dumb idea. When we first launched, we as a company wanted to make a real dent in the vaping industry and we had to quickly create this brand that would not only resonate with vapers, but also position it in such a way that would convert non-vapers to believe in our brand. How do we do this?
Like any brand development or targeted campaign alike, there lies four main tenets to consider:
There are actually several other tenets to consider, but for the purposes of the vaping industry and what generally works, let's focus on these.
Statistically-speaking, brands without a clear goal of what to achieve on the marketing end in a set amount of time are destined to fail a lot more often than brands with some degree of a plan. This plan can honestly be an abstract vision of what kind of power the brand is to possess in a given time frame. The only caveat in the decision of your plan is that it must be attainable given the amount of resources your business can handle and still operate profitably.
Back in 2010, Adweek published an article that slammed companies that use social media as their platform of choice to go into such a strategy without any form of plan. Despite the dated article, this is especially fervent in the vaping industry where over 80% of our marketing stems from social media and its respective followers and engagement algorithms.
Here's some info that you might not have heard about - there's a good chunk of the BLVK Unicorn team that is very familiar with marketing and media management. More often than not, we'd come across clients whose literal goal upon launch was to "sell to everyone and make as much money as possible in the process." And here's a hard pill to swallow: THAT IS NOT POSSIBLE, at least not anymore. Companies need to have a particular cause or vision that is attainable and stick to it. Jason Harris, President and CEO at Mekanism states "It can be tempting to jump on the trend of the day, but it's more authentic if a brand chooses a cause and sticks to it." Not only will the brand last the test of time after said fad wears out, but the brand retention would only increase in volume if there's a clear-cut image to be paired with said brand.
With the case of BLVK Unicorn, our goal is simple: BLVK Unicorn strives to bring clients and end-users an exceptional vaping experience with our flavorful product collections: BLVK, WYTE, FRZN, CHBY, SALT, and MILK. Just by breaking down our mission statement readily found off our website, that alone already sets us apart from other companies in that achieving such a vision via a sound content strategy, the use of influencers, and a series of brand retention campaigns can be achieved in a much more concise fashion.
The next fundamental tenet towards achieving and maintaining powerful marketing is of course, a sound content strategy. After all, what is a brand without a medium in expressing what it's all about? BLVK Unicorn is, first and foremost, a tobacco company. Although, it wasn't until early 2017 that the brand went from showcasing its products to taking on more of a lifestyle element to the brand, this shift in delivering content across social media stemmed from planning and effectively executing a content strategy that is in this day and age, often imitated, but never truly duplicated to the same degree.
Without giving too much away as to how we execute our content strategy, what we can tell you is that just by looking at what we post on social media, we're pretty active with. Not only do we make a great use of photography and videography, but with each post scheduled, there's a particular aspect of the overall goal being achieved. That is what a sound content strategy looks like. Through our content we can 1) sell a product, 2) engage with our audience 3) ask a question 4) showcase the lifestyle 5) make our brand more relevant to a demographic that wouldn't normally be associated with out brand. The list continues on and we invite you to check out our Instagram to see.
At the very fundamental level, the goal to achieving and maintaining a brand in the vape industry is to adopt a sound content strategy that both embodies your brand while also INNOVATING and continually pushing the envelope to further increase the amount of time spent for each piece of content.
Influencer Marketing has been around in the United States for over a century. This type of exposure uses key leaders, such as relative celebrities and those with a large following to promote your brand, its message, or a product/service. This, coupled with an internal media strategy is one of, if not, the most successful business models to abide by in the vaping industry. There are two types of influencers to consider. This distinction can effectively "make or break" a manufacturer in the vape space; so we'll break down both:
"Influencer marketing is still effective when they're looked at as peers..." said Kyla Brennan, the founder and CEO of HelloSociety, an agency that connects brands with influencers for specific campaigns. A micro influencer is an individual with a smaller, but more loyal following. These are your tricksters, the photographers, the videographers, and those that are more or less just as passionate about vaping as your average vaper. Sure, these influencers may or may not have a monetary fee attached to their agreement to take on the brand for promotion, but at the end of the month during account audits, one can calculate the actual interest for your brand.
In terms of how BLVK Unicorn utilizes its influencers in 2018, just by looking at our main social media platform, Instagram, we no longer showcase our influencers on our page. Reason being two-fold - 1) as a tobacco-classified business, we'd want to promote OURproducts and associated brand identity. Taking our content strategy and overall look and feel of the BLVK Unicorn branding and it doesn't always fit with an influencer within the vape industry. 2) While the whole point of the influencer is to effectively capture their target demographic as a means of gaining more exposure, it is not required for the business to use that content as part of the company-content strategy. This point goes hand in hand with point before in that the overall exposure for the brand on social media can come from multiple avenues and doesn't always have to come from the brand exclusively.
Macro influencers would be the opposite of micro. Macro influencers in the vape space would be your huge accounts with several hundred thousand, if not, millions of social media followers. While these are a little harder to find that exclusively promote for our industry, the basis of calculating the return on investment is also blurred. We won't mention any accounts specifically, but from our experience in using them, it simply wasn't benefiting the brand. The content created by the influencer obviously followed their style of content and the engagement showed it to be a success. Upon a deeper audit however, the engagement was more or less about the fascination with the influencer and not so much the product or service that was being promoted. Taking more math into consideration, the cost to lock down the partnership ultimately did nothing for the brand in terms of converting the otherwise insane amount of engagement into actual sales.
Within the vaping industry, we found that a lot of brands that aren't always familiar with trends in the United States would bring on macro influencers as a way to kick start a brand's following. We'd advise a more balanced approach to this theory. Given a particular marketing and media budget, set aside a budget to pull in both micro and macro influencers. There are plenty campaigns one can run to adequately gauge an influencer's reach and worth to the brand.
Most brands think that upon launch, one can organically build up a cult following just by posting nice images and maybe throwing a video up on Instagram. We'll tell you right now that that is not what is needed to be successful. Every brand, we repeat every brand needs some type of disruptive campaign to be developed, executed, and done again and again to ensure constant engagement. These types of campaigns need to continually push that envelope of what's hot, what's cool, and will throw people off just enough to spark up that interest in your brand.
There are two different types of campaigns that exists in the marketing world, and to see both of these campaigns is very few and far between in the vaping industry: planned campaigns and quick-reactionary campaigns. Both are required in 2018 seeing that most brands are more or less established looking to take on the FDA in the long-term.
These are your campaigns that reinforce the core values as a brand by hopping onto an interest people may associate vaping to. Let's take last Sunday for instance - Father's Day. We planned this campaign to be a video that went against the grain in terms of what other brands in our industry usually do. Sure, we did a sale, but we also created content that relates to people on a more personal level, that may or may not include vaping.
Don't hate us, but we did a dad joke for Father's Day. Sure, it's crude humor, but it follows the demographic to which we service: adults. The scripting and concept of the video is relatable to the average American. There's branding for the company without it looking too much like an ad. Lastly, the video was yet another innovation towards delivering content to the vaping industry. Yet again, BLVK Unicorn did it, and did it well.
Last week, IHOP launched their new line of burgers and showcased that by changing their name to IHOB (remember that 'brilliantly-dumb' comment above?). While this campaign was planned well-ahead of time, the reactions that were generated more or less came that Monday upon announcement. This is called a quick reactionary campaign in which a brand responds to a trend by altering an aspect or several aspects of the brand in reaction to said trend. In response to IHOP's transition into burgers, Burger King changed their Twitter name to Pancake King.
On the day of the announcement, even we did something to follow the trend. We changed our Instagram name to @blvkburgers and posted an Instagram story video showcasing our reaction to the pancake house switch.
It's quick and easy, but it really shows that the brand is in tune with what's going on in the world, even if it's just the latest trend that'll be hype one day and completely dead the next.
Long story short, when we say we have powerful marketing, we mean to showcase our best interpretation of our brand values across relevant channels using effective methods of delivery. From the conception of the brand to the executing of campaigns to having this image posted instead of that one all needs to come from a constant desire to be different. In a sense, each and every brand needs to have that hunger to be #MajesticAsFVCK, otherwise, how would one make it to the top?