Marketing Fun Friday: Learn to Market Like Nike

Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Marketing [ 0 Comments ]

market like nikeValued at $10.7 billion, with 2012 revenues exceeding $24 billion, Nike is the most valuable sports business in the world (Forbes). Much of that value is the direct result of the company’s skillful marketing campaigns making it a valuable resource for your own marketing efforts.

By examining how Nike has branded itself, and continues to market that brand, you can learn how to apply that same strategy towards your own business.

Related: Work with one of our online marketing vendors to get on the right track

Company Branding

Nike’s brand story is instantly recognizable. Its connotations include the feeling of achievement and the sense of endless human potential through sports. Rather than telling a simplified story like, “We sell great shoes,” Nike’s branding extends far beyond its products. It says, “You can be great. Just do it.”

No matter how Nike’s various advertising campaigns, marketing strategies, and products themselves have changed over time, that core branding has been a consistent and integral element of their marketing. Nike doesn’t sell a product – it sells an emotional response to their brand: achievement.

  • What is it about your business, products, and services that can help you develop a compelling and engaging brand story? What emotion do you want to convey? Your products are just the starting point of your branding. How can you extend your brand to sell not just a shoe, but an emotion?
  • For example: Every plumbing service sells their ability to fix pipes. How could one build their brand to make an emotional connection with frantic customers whose basements are flooding? By selling the feeling of relief.

Related: 4 Reasons why Building Your Brand Never Stops

Traditional Campaigns

Nike’s Just Do It campaign had a startling effect on its sales – from $877 million in 1988 to $9.2 billion in 1998 (CFAR). Their advertising campaigns were geared towards taking advantage of the growing fitness craze of the late 1980’s. Further cementing their brand story, Nike also brought on a number of celebrity endorsements from famous athletes, including:

  • 10-time Olympic medalist and standing world-record holder Carl Lewis.
  • 6-time Olympic medalist and standing world-record holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
  • 4-Time Olympic medalist and world-record setter Sebastian Coe.
  • Athlete Michael Jordan, whose branded Air Jordan sneakers have been on the market continuously since 1984.

Your business may not be able to attract celebrity endorsements. Nor, perhaps, would celebrity endorsements be appropriate for your particular business. However, you can learn from Nike’s marketing messages all the same.

They successfully combined their Just Do It campaign with strategic elements – athlete endorsements – that further underlined their message.

Think about your product. What message do you want to convey to your customers, and how can your advertising further emphasize that message in the mind of your audience?

Related: 10 Tips for Building Long-Term Client Relationships

Nike’s New Strategy

Nike’s brand has not changed since 1984, even as new technologies and altered marketing techniques have emerged. Instead, they have utilized these new tactics in order to reinforce their existing brand and engage their customers in creative new ways.

  • They release new Nike commercials on social media before they hit the television screen.
  • They created an interactive HTML5 website.
  • They created a video to promote their new Nike+ Fuelband – generating 8.5 million views on Youtube.

In an interview with Fortune, Nike CEO Mark Parker explained, “Connecting used to be, ‘Here’s some product, and here’s some advertising. We hope you like it.’ Connecting today is a dialogue.” Creating a dialogue with your own customers doesn’t necessitate a huge marketing budget.

The key is to establish your brand, use it to reach out to your customers, and make sure everything you do coincides with and reinforces that branded image.

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