In the world of business, there are some words that get tossed around so much they almost lose their meaning. Marketing is one of them. There are thousands of PR firms and marketing strategists trying to capitalize on the new digital channels, the new means of reaching customers. But a large part of them have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. They repeat words like ‘branding’, ‘innovative’, ‘aggressive marketing strategy’, but ultimately, they’re doing nothing new, just advertising on social media like everyone else.

Same rules, new playing field

The world may have changed, but the mechanics of marketing are the same as they’ve always been. You’re approaching platforms where people congregate and advertising what it is you have to offer. But while these mechanics are simple, that is not to say that they are easy to deploy successfully. Good marketing in the modern age requires a detailed strategy, an understanding of your product/service and the type of person that would be interested in your business. If you understand your target customer, you understand what makes them tick, how they communicate, their vocabulary, their likes and dislikes, then you can craft statements and content catered directly to them. You can make references they will understand and appreciate. The value of this should not be underestimated. People in the modern age regard companies with suspicion, assuming that they will say or do anything in order to get their money.

Whose side are you on?

As a result, many of the companies that do well are those that are ‘on side’ with the consumer. Of course, with a good enough product or service, any business can be successful, but marketing is about doing the most with what you have to offer. A lot of companies are pairing up with podcasters because they understand this is one of the easiest ways to bypass the consumer/corporation divide, the us vs. them mentality. There was initial trepidation on the part of YouTube viewers who were irritated that marketing strategies had wormed their way into the heart of the content they enjoy, but appreciation for the content creator and his/her need to make profit has overridden this wariness. Today, it is normal to see a podcaster introduce their video with a promotion — many don’t even skip past it.

The success of these companies comes down to the marketing strategy and how it is implemented. Yes, all of them have something of value they are trying to offer, but they’re presenting this offer in a very deliberate, targeted way. Manscaped is one such company. The product is for young men primarily, and the company realised there was an opportunity to present the product in a humorous way, via genuinely funny podcasters that have the respect and attention of their viewers. Andrew Schulz, an American comedian and podcaster, posted a video of himself in an airplane bathroom explaining how the need to ‘manscape’ can arise suddenly and without warning, and a young man can find himself travelling to visit a potential partner without having made the necessary preparations. For these dire scenarios, the usual implements won’t do — Schulz asserts that the new technology of Manscaped devices is needed for a faster, more efficient trim.

Learn the language of your target demographic

I apologize for the unsavory image some of you may have (and for the mouthful of coffee you may have sprayed over your laptop), but the point is an important one. Manscaped and Andrew Schulz have figured out how to market in 2021. You have to get on side with your customers. You have to show that you ‘get it’, that you use their language, you’re on their team and you fit into the world of your target audience.

For Manscaped, that audience is the new world of internet culture. They identified that you need a sense of humor to be accepted into internet culture, you need to know how to talk to the new generation. But the same can be said for any demographic. You might be looking to captivate young, successful, entrepreneurial women for a line of beauty products. In that case, you’d need to find the digital channels these women are operating in and build a marketing voice that would fit into that culture.

Marketing won’t take you all the way there. The best salesperson will still get turned down if they have nothing of value to sell. Alan Jenkins of Koreti Ltd comments, ‘As the internet becomes increasingly inundated with spam marketing content, it is getting more and more important for businesses to dissociate themselves from these manipulation-based strategies. This means focusing on the value you can provide via your product or service.’ But equally, it’s no use sitting on a valuable product or service without the know-how to promote it in the right places with the right packaging. Digital marketing in 2021 requires an understanding of online culture, of the communities and forums people frequent and the way they communicate with one another. Businesses that fail to appeal to their target audience as equals, as co-members of a wider community, will be cast aside in favour of others that do. Unless you are already a well-established member of an internet community or have successful brand sponsors, achieving this consumer relationship will require work. It will require a carefully-considered plan. So identify your target consumer, put yourself in his/her shoes, and start strategising.