From Mickey Mouse Club to big screen star: Craig Catley, director of StrategyBlocks, on what brands can learn from the incredible story of Justin Timberlake.
When you think of strategy, the first word that comes to mind isn’t “sexy”. I’m not talking about the traditional sense of the word, though we all know when it comes to marketing sexy certainly sells. No, I am talking about sexy in the dynamic sense; the way the right strategy can reinvent a brand, launch a next-level approach to marketing, or simply raise a company to a whole new level of stardom.
In order to achieve a sexy new level of success, it’s nice to look to the masters. And you can’t ‘bring sexy back’ without talking about the man who coined the phrase – Justin Timberlake.
His life is a practical case study in smart marketing and his name is a brand unto itself. So what can a Mickey Mouse Club ex-alum, teenage boy band phenom, and a man who attained a level of longevity most brands only dream of teach the business world about strategy? Turns out, quite a lot.
Know Your Audience
It is no coincidence Timberlake became a triple threat in singing, dancing and acting. After all, his success was bred early with a clear focus on where he wanted to go and how to market it to the world.
From Star Search to The Mickey Mouse Club to N’ Sync, and then finally to the big screen and TV, Timberlake has adapted and expanded his audience and brand every step of the way. As a product, he’s a shining example of content marketing. He knew what he had to offer, honed his skills, and continues to strategically deliver it to the right audience. There is a lesson in that for businesses.
“When marketing and sales efforts map to larger business strategy, there is greater chance for success”
To sell something – whether it be a persona like Justin Timberlake or a can of soda – businesses need to have a clear vision of the content they are trying to market and a strategy to get it in front of the right audience.
Surprisingly, in a report from the Content Marketing Institute, only 3% of B2B marketers say they have a documented content marketing strategy. Content is the forward-facing representation of a company’s internal organizational strategy, and should map to it. Business who don’t “know thyself”, as Socrates once said, can hardly represent themselves to the external market.
When marketing and sales efforts map to larger business strategy, there is greater chance for success. And success is certainly sexier than failure.
Who You Work With Matters
Timbaland, Jimmy Fallon, Clint Eastwood – the list of people Timberlake has collaborated with across different mediums could go on for miles. Imagine what getting all those names behind your business and brand could do for name recognition.
A vast majority of Justin Timberlake’s success is his uncanny ability to collaborate, cooperate and work in a team environment over the years. Without collaboration N’Sync would have been gone, Saturday Night Live would have missed out on some not so “single ladies” dancing, and Jimmy Fallon and the History of Rap would be, well, history.
The point is that collaboration matters, whether it be through strategic partnerships to bring about greater brand name recognition, or internal collaboration to promote new ideas. And while studies show 39% of employees worldwide say people in their organisation don’t collaborate enough, what is equally important is how they collaborate.
Collaboration should not be just communicating ideas, but about communicating and collaborating in a way to make old ideas new and innovative. Much in the way Bai’s Super Bowl ad made consumers look at N’ Sync’s song ‘Bye, Bye, Bye’ in a new way, creative collaboration can lead to outside-the-box thinking that brings about next-level ideas.
Make An Experience
“I’m ready.” Two words that launched a marketing campaign like no one had ever seen before. Under the radar through Twitter, YouTube and social media, Timberlake hailed his return to music with an upcoming album release.
While social media marketing was not new, Timberlake’s ability to use it to connect with fans on a personal level by inviting them into his studio through video led to a fan frenzy, which was new. He had hit on a key aspect of strategy – marketing is as much about creating an experience as it is about selling a product.
“What makes him innovative and contributes to his longevity is his ability to plan and prepare for the future”
According to Adobe, 60% of marketers struggle to personalise content in real-time, but personalisation is the very strategy that wins the hearts and minds of consumers. Too many companies overlook the psychological aspects of marketing. Companies need to weave together strategic marketing plans that address the product itself, but that also create a VIP experience for consumers. Consumers today want more than the next new thing. They want an experience that makes them feel a part of product and brand.
Arguably, Justin Timberlake’s success is not all his own, but what makes him innovative and contributes to his longevity is his ability to plan and prepare for the future, to collaborate and communicate, and his innate ability to draw the masses into everything he does.
And, while his success is enviable, where he has truly brought “sexy back” is in his next-level strategies that connect with today’s ever-changing consumers. So the next time you look at bringing sexy back, maybe take a page out of Justin Timberlake’s playbook and look to execute strategically in an entirely new way.