3 Ways to Engage With The Community and Drive Profits

In the world of marketing “community and social engagement” have come to mean a wide variety of things. For some marketers, community engagement refers to the activity among a base of users and customers that regularly use a brand’s products or services. For others, community engagement can be synonymous with social responsibility, which sometimes has political connotations.

But we like to take a different approach.

What does it really mean to engage with the community?

Here at BRAINBOX, we believe being community-minded goes far beyond aligning with a certain social cause. Community engagement is about being on the ground with your audience at events that matter to them, providing experiences that will stay with them for years to come.

Because the BRAINBOX team has activated brands at events all across the country, we wrote this article to help marketing managers and business owners see how they can engage with the community in an authentic way that drives profits and maximizes ROI. Here are our top three key steps to running a successful community engagement campaign.

Do Your Research. Know As Much As Possible About Your Target Audience

If you want your community engagement efforts to drive profits, it’s important you pick the right community. As with other types of marketing, when it comes to experiential marketing, knowing your audience is your biggest and most valuable asset. With that in mind, it’s important to do research to determine what groups and causes matter most to the people your brand is trying to reach.

How much information is enough?

One of the biggest challenges in market research is knowing when you’ve collected enough data about your target audience. You could send out surveys for years and still continue to discover new insights.

Marketers have a (sometimes unhealthy) love affair with data and numbers, but we’re not always the best at strategically applying what’s relevant and not wasting time on what’s not.

Part of this is because marketing departments are often tasked with accomplishing the goals of others: HR wants help recruiting, Sales wants help driving new business, the Operations Manager wants clearer internal communications. With each of these segments of the company competing for the marketing department’s limited time, you never know what information will suddenly become useful.

But unless you’ve got a full time data analyst at your disposal, sometimes you have to develop a bit of tunnel vision to avoid a classic case of analysis paralysis.

In the end, the key to segmenting relevant information is always going to come down to your target audience. Once you know these five things, you have enough information to begin crafting a community-oriented event.

  1. Where does your audience get their information?
  2. What are they reading and watching, online and offline?
  3. Where does your audience fall on the political spectrum?
  4. Which causes or organizations does your audience donate money to?
  5. What is the end state they are attempting to achieve? What are their goals for success?

What do you do with the information once you find it?

Knowing the answers to the questions above should help you establish some clear boundaries for creating an event. From this data, you should be able to discern what your audience cares about and how to promote your event once you create it.

Actually Be A Community-Minded Company

If being socially-minded is important in today’s climate, being authentic is even more vital. So as your company is choosing community initiatives that align with its social stance, make sure you’re picking things that truly matter to you and your audience.

The best philanthropic and community campaigns have posterity that extends beyond this quarter, especially in the age of the internet. People are going to be coming across press releases and social posts of your community efforts for years to come, so make sure that your message and actions are consistent.

An example: Patagonia

Patagonia Worn Wear experiential marketing campaignNo company is better at this than Patagonia.

Their business model is a simple one: they sell apparel and accessories to people who participate in outdoor activities for recreation and work.

It stands to reason that their target audience would be interested in protecting the environment, but Patagonia goes much further than a standard fundraiser or donation to an environmental charity.

Instead, the company organizes protests and community activism centered around conservation and is transparent about making its supply chain increasingly eco-friendly.

Will everyone agree with the company’s stance on things like climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and their approach to helping solve those problems? No, but no one doubts the company’s sincerity because over the past four decades they’ve been incredibly consistent in their beliefs, which have shaped every aspect of their business.

Be Clear About Your Goals. Plan For Tracking ROI Before You Start.

If you’re a Marketing Manager, you’re evaluated by the ROI of your marketing efforts. So while there’s nothing wrong with creating a community engagement campaign for purely philanthropic reasons (i.e. without expecting your company to tangibly benefit), at the end of the day (or quarter, or year) your business needs to make money. Even nonprofits have to track how the amount of donations come through fundraising events.

Track everything.

ipad with marketing dataSo you know who your target audience is and you’ve chosen a cause or event that aligns with what matters to both that audience and your company. The next step is determining your KPI’s for your campaign and crafting a clear method to track them.

Do you want to create awareness by activating your brand at a community event?
Start by recording attendees to reach out to them in another campaign.

Considering offering a discount for one of your products?
Coupons, when used correctly, are really the gift that keeps on giving. Even if you’re giving away products to a community partner or group for free, you can track online and in-store purchases from that community if you issue a coupon that’s specific to that campaign with your donation.

Don’t get overwhelmed. Call the Experts.

Are you looking to engage with your customers at events they find significant? Not sure where to start concerning research or tracking KPI’s that will make you look like a marketing rockstar? Don’t stress. Contact the BRAINBOX team for help to get your national, regional, or local event up and running.

We’ve even got no stress, turn-key experiential marketing solutions to get your brand in front of thousands of people on the ground and online.  So whether you need help crafting a custom experiential marketing solution, identifying and targeting your audience, or promoting your event to the press, our team of experts can help make your event a success.

Think outside the box with BRAINBOX.

Photo Credit: Patagonia

3 Best Ways To Grow Your Audience

To succeed and thrive in today’s ever-changing digital marketing world, there are thousands of things you can do but there are a few that you must do. This article explains a few key components that are necessary to make sure that your business reaches the right people. And, how to  continually improve that skill in order to grow your audience over time.

Are you doing these three things to grow your audience?

1. Know your audience inside and out.

group of friends in the sunshineThe most crucial part of growing an engaged audience is getting to know them. For example, do you know whether your audience likes more, or less, frequent interaction or digital touches? Or do they prefer a day or two in between reach outs?

Does your audience respond more favorably to photos or videos? Do you know where your audience spends their time? What websites do they visit and what content best gets a response from them?


Knowledge of them through market research, surveys and audience observation is essential. Their preferences will drive your interaction and its success.

2. Provide value beyond the point of sale.

Once you understand who your audience is and what makes them tick, you must then build a strategy to meet their needs. This is the point where their needs and or desires meet your offerings and abilities which will result in their selecting you to meet those needs. Knowing what you have to offer is vital in understanding how it can benefit the audience.

workplace teamTo make a plan that meets their needs, ensure that you aren’t offering a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Focus on the real issues and offer solutions through your strategy.

A trap many marketers fall into is focusing solely on their products and then selling those products as the only solution. Don’t do that! Instead, understand their needs first and you build trust with your audience.

One thing to note while building your strategy is the offering of a product sale versus providing them a lifestyle message. Rather than be all product focused all the time, try adding value to their lives – make your marketing campaign about a lifestyle vs a product.

How does the product that you are marketing match an aspirational lifestyle? Most audiences today see right through the “sales-y” approach. But if the product is shown to be relevant to their lifestyle, you’ve made a connection.

3.  Be ready to adapt.

Lastly, as you are growing your audience, you must stay relevant. The solutions of yesterday won’t work today and don’t assume they will! Take a step back – just because you have been marketing a certain way or offering a certain product for years, do not assume this means it remains valuable to your audience. Listen, Learn, Repeat and grow.

Test, test, then test again.

science lab equipment

One way to do this is to stand out – be different and always adapt! One example of this is, if you are focused solely on digital and social marketing, be different…expand your message ‘to the street’ with experiential marketing. More and more, audiences want to be able to see a product or brand face to face, vs on their mobile device or computer screen. Experiential marketing gives marketers the extended opportunity to interact with their potential audience in a unique way, and to provide an experience to the audience they may not otherwise get.

And the best part about getting to know your audience and directly interacting with them either digitally or face to face is that they will tell you want they want, what they need, and what they’re interested in now and in the future. The key is listening more and hearing better.

So go out and meet the world with enthusiasm and remember: it is, always has been and always will be about the customer.

Need help with your audience?

Market research can be hard, especially for small business starting from scratch. Luckily, the Brainbox team is here to help. We offer everything from persona creation and customer value journey workshops to full reports on the people and markets you’re trying to reach. Give us a call at 859.225.4488 or contact us today.

How To Communicate Your Brand Personality Through Video

Companies typically spend thousands of dollars paying experts to help them nail down their brand voice, brand personality, and brand tone.  The larger a company is, the more voices are typically included in the process, and the longer it typically takes.

So now, after hours of workshops and surveys, your company has a specific brand tone and personality. It’s been emailed out to all of your employees. Maybe you even use it in your email signature, or have it tattooed on your arm. You work hard to make sure that every piece of written content fits with your brands persona, but now you want to try your hand at video.

Where video was formerly considered an extra tool to be used whenever time and budgets permit, more and more companies are starting to understand that video is the primary method that many millions of people consume content. So, as companies are consuming increasing amounts of video, content marketing managers are faced with a big question:

As you develop a video marketing program, how do you clearly communicate your brand’s personality in every piece? Read more

I Am Your Millennial

I am a millennial. What in the world does that mean?

I was born in 1988, right in the middle of the generation, defined by 9/11. 13 year-olds shouldn’t watch such things on television.

I am dichotomous.

I can’t decide whether I envision myself in a New York City apartment, some kind of digital Don Draper, or if I see myself in a cabin in Montana typing the next great American novel on an old Underwood.

This is a uniquely American idea, after all. I am not unique.

I shop at Whole Foods out of guilt. I own a home at 30 and find myself lucky amongst my peers.

I hide things from all except those I feel closest to.

I will research for hours before deciding on which 15 dollar bag of coffee to buy for the week.

I watch shows on HBO, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon yet don’t pay for any of these services.

I am optimistic and pessimistic, light and dark, easygoing and obstinate, truthful and fraudulent.

I am confounding. I am a fork in the road of history. I am clearly arrogant. I am bashful.

I am exactly who you want me to be. Tell me what I already know. Tell me a story. But make it about me.

We know millennials. We can help you tell them a story. Let’s make something memorable.





Aaron’s Sneaker Vlog Episode 1: Aaron Sneaks into the Future

BBIM Social and Digital Media Coordinator Aaron Perkins likes sneakers. A lot. Welcome to episode 1 of Aaron’s Sneaker Vlog and stay tuned for more episodes.

Ski.com Does a Social Contest Right

Contests are back. Not that they ever went anywhere, but 2019 is shaping up to be a huge year for social contests. And one particular company recently used a contest the way we should all aspire to.

Ski.com knows its audience can only dream of skiing around the country free of charge, so that’s what they decided to offer. They called it “Epic Dream Job,” and the trip literally circled the globe. It included skiing in Vermont, Italy, France, Japan, and back to North America. With such a passionate audience and an amazing prize (and such an expensive sport), ski.com knew they’d get tons of entries.

Skiers submitted more than 1,100 video submissions and one lucky rider, Jackson Lebsack from Hood River, Oregon, won the trip. But here’s the catch. His one requirement for winning the trip was he had to document the whole trip on social media.

Ski.com did it right. They knew that where most companies mess up with contests is people submit and then they forget. Ski.com has been keeping those who submitted and those already interested engaged before, during, and, crucially, AFTER the contest.

Sure enough, the winner has already been announced, but here I am on social media keeping up with where Jackson is skiing today. The contest certainly didn’t end when the winner was announced, and that’s how you do social contests.



The Power of the “Shock Drop”

Sold Out. The two words that any sneaker head dreads seeing when trying to buy the newest sneaker. Seeing the notification pop up, knowing you’re in line to purchase it, only to see it sell out seconds later is a sneakerhead’s worst nightmare. With companies wanting to maximize profits, Nike and Jordan continue to prove that less can sometimes be way more for a hot sneaker release.

Last night, Travis Scott, arguably the hottest artist in the world, performed at the Grammy’s, wearing one of his latest Air Jordan collaborations. Back in June of last year, Scott has his first collaboration with the brand, the Air Jordan 4 “Cactus Jack.” Some sneaker websites and blogs dubbed it the Sneaker of the Year, for its nod to the Houston Oilers.

When word started to surface that another collaboration was in the works, social media started to buzz. As recently as last week, the shoe in question, the Air Jordan I “Cactus Jack” got an official release date, April 26th. Some fans, however, speculated the shoe might drop via a “shock drop” during his Super Bowl LIII performance, meaning that a portion of the stock would release early via the Nike SNKRS app.

While that never happened, fans held out hope something might happen during his Grammy performance. Sure enough, it did. Fans started to flock to the app in hopes to purchase them. As soon as fans logged on to the app, they were treated to the dreaded SOLD OUT screen. Some people speculated only 250 of the rumored 36,000 pairs were released last night, but why? One word. HYPE.

Jordan took advantage of arguably their biggest influencer performing at one of the biggest awards shows of the year, to generate even more hype for a shoe that isn’t expected to release for another two months. And with a rumored five more shoes scheduled to release this year from Scott and Jordan; the hype for this collection will continue to grow, bringing more awareness to the brand.

We’ve already seen this type of release happen once this year with the Air Jordan XI “Infrared.” With the shoe officially releasing this Saturday; it got a surprise drop on February 1st. 100’s of people were able to purchase a pair early. While the shoe will not be as limited at the Cactus Jack line, the early pairs sneaker heads are posting on social media only fuels the hype even more for those who missed out. People want what they can’t have, and Nike and Jordan have mastered this marketing tactic perfectly to get people to talk about their brand.

We Now Live in a Post Fyre Festival World

I remember waking up on a rainy, lazy weekend and heading on over to Pitchfork. My wife sleeps in. I don’t. So these mornings are when I catch up on what I might have missed during the week. I love my wife, but it’s one of my favorite parts of the week.

Of course, that morning, what caught my attention was this disaster called Fyre Festival. A mess put on by Billy McFarland and Ja Rule (it was probably my late-90s, early 00s music loving self that made me click on the story), the event had clearly gone astray.

Of course, the now infamous tweet of the plain bread with two cheese slices immediately made me gasp. I think it’s fair to say I became obsessed at that point. I wanted to know everything about how this could go so wrong.

In the last couple of weeks, two competing documentaries have been released on Hulu and Netflix. While the Hulu documentary, Fyre Fraud, highlights what is apparently wrong with youth culture at large, the Netflix documentary, Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened, asks much more intriguing questions, especially of marketers.

How much culpability do marketers have in these situations? Are those marketing the event responsible for misleading, or does the blame fall squarely on those in charge? Are agencies simply to do as their told and not ask questions?

I don’t think we have the answers yet. But there is some soul-searching to be done, a line in the sand to be drawn. One thing is clear, though. Marketers now live in a post Fyre Festival world, where new considerations and questions must be asked.

The Age of the Individual

Marketers have for too long thought of marketing as a numbers game. They seek gains in followers, in revenue, in brand awareness. Seeking these numbers is not the problem per se, but in 2018, it is more necessary than ever to think of the individual in order to get those numbers.

We now live in an age where massive numbers of the population grew up with smartphones in their hands. Thanks to social media, individuals now have a brand, a platform, a way they see themselves. In order for brands to best connect with their customers, they have to understand this individual brand that develops among customers most likely to purchase their product.

That’s why in 2019, more and more brands are embracing political activism rather than rejecting it and straddling the fence, as brands had previously done for decades. Brands have to accept that they aren’t for everyone anymore. They cater to a specific subset of people who have very specific views. It’s vital for brands to become aware of just WHO this subset is. What do they believe in? What do they do for fun? Who are they influenced and inspired by?

This collection of individuals is now the customer base. How can we help you understand and connect with your unique set of individuals?

Egg Picture Beats Out Kylie Jenner

Sometimes cleverness can appear simple or even be concealed. And sometimes the best social media posts are anti-social media posts, which, yes, we understand is maybe the height of irony. But the account EGG GANG on Instagram understood the culture at large and took full advantage of it.

Whoever’s idea it was to try to beat Kylie Jenner’s previous most-liked Instagram post of all time (a photo of her daughter, Stormi, after giving birth) knew that people were hungry to reject the celebrity Instagram culture we live in and wanted to lay the smack down on that culture. Of course, all these people who liked the post did that by being on Instagram.

So we’re not sure who wins this one, but we are sure that Kylie Jenner probably loses. Sometimes simplicity and a dream is all you need on social media in 2019.

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