B-Side Teacher Spotlight: Marketing your Business

Our fifth B-Side session, Marketing Your Business and Finding New Clients/Customers, is all about the power of promotion. AJ McDonald, the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Republic Wireless, has years of experience building a successful brand voice and social media strategy. On July 20, AJ will discuss how to create a customer journey and brand story through social media and content marketing.

AJ_bsideBlog editor, social media strategist, content writer and brand storyteller; and that’s just his day job. AJ McDonald is an expert on defining a brand voice and creating community.

How did you approach branding/online marketing when you started with Bandwidth?

Bandwidth is purely B2B, while Republic, Bandwidth’s smartphone branch, was the company’s first B2C venture. As such, Bandwidth wasn’t really sure how to translate their approach over to the more general consumer mindset. Before I even accepted the job, I kept hearing about how awesome a guy Bandwidth’s CEO, David Morken, is. I heard stories about how inspiriting and genuine he could be. The kind of person that when you’re around them, makes you feel like you need to go do some big amazing thing with your life (he himself tried to swim the English Channel after all). So, I figured David would be a good place to start. I actually asked to spend a week with David to see what he was about up close. Astonishingly, David agreed to it. He took time out for a complete stranger off the street. I interviewed him, watched him, learned the tenor in his voice. What fired him up. At the end of that week, it was obvious that David wasn’t creating Republic “just to sell phones to people.” Republic was rooted in a very genuine desire to help people stay better connected to each other as affordably as possible using technologies around us in new ways. That was really cool to me. That was something on which I could build a foundation for a brand approach.

Why do you believe in branding a business?

What good is a story if no one hears it? What good is a company if no one knows who you are, what you stand for, or where you’re going? That is what good branding gives your audiences and turns them into real, lasting advocates.

I have a website and business card, that is branding right?

Those are elements of a brand. But so is what you say when you hand someone that business card. And the followup conversations after that. Where and how are those happening? What is the lasting impression a person walks away with? When you hear a brand’s name, what thoughts come to mind? If they are positive, inspiring, and make you want to tell other people about the company, then your brand is doing its job.

I do not have anything to write/talk about, do I need a blog?

There’s always a story to tell, but it needs to be told at the right time. That time varies per company and their GTM strategy. A blog that isn’t paired with SEO best practices and a clearly defined role in the customer journey can still work and provide value, but you’re flying blind and creating a lot more work for yourself – more likely to have your content join the ocean of noise in the sociosphere. Instead, it is better to identify your addressable market and determine where your blog content should slot in. For Republic, it is in the early-stage decision step for prospects. That informs our blog content needing to be helpful and informative so that by the time the person decides to make a purchase, Republic is present in their minds. This may be totally different for a company in a different industry however, who may find better conversion from, say, late-stage on-site content.

“It is a matter of understanding your unique company’s customer journey and filling in the gaps of content along that journey to best meet your audience’s needs. How are you helping them be better versions of themselves?”

Why should I use social media to promote myself?

We live in an era where there is no one, linear path for a customer to come in and convert. When your next big fan could hear about you from a friend on Instagram, it is excellent to be able to meet that person where they are at. The stage is set for creating, real, lasting, genuine relationships with people. You don’t have to social network, but you’re missing out on incredible engagement opportunities that foster brand solid loyalty if you don’t.

Register for AJ’s B-Side session here. See you there!

By Chelsea Brown
Published July 10, 2016