An unlikely blog post perhaps. However, before you scoff at such popular culture, this isn’t the first time comparisons have been drawn between the two – Forbes, no less, have made similar observations.
I’ll try not to use terms like ‘love them or hate them’ or ‘marmite’ as I attempt to outline what I think are useful lessons to learn from the marketing strategy of a million dollar, maybe even, one day, a billion dollar family. I hope that in this unusual context there may be something to take away, an idea or even just a mentality of branding that could work for your business too.
So first and foremost – who are the Kardashians and what is their story?
A family with roots in Armenia, initially found fame in Robert Kardashian, the father of some of the Kardashian clan, who was OJ Simpson’s renowned attorney. An unlikely beginning but it gives you an idea of the circles the family moved within. But for those who question who or what a Kardashian is, it was Kim Kardashian that thrust the family to the limelight.
Kim, the eldest daughter and the face of the Kardashian brand found a niche backstage overhauling celebrity wardrobes, with high-profile clients including Paris Hilton and Serena Williams. Kim’s famous curves, her matriarchal mother and ‘that’ scandalous video created the perfect storm for what has become a multi-million dollar empire with a formidable brand.
Perhaps a questionable foundation for a career but there is no doubting Kim’s entrepreneurial spirit. From which she has built businesses that include TV shows, clothing lines, jewelry, perfume and at least two endorsements with Dorothy Perkins and Sketchers. All of which have helped to successfully cultivate her brand and lead her to such notoriety that Kim has been offered up to $25k for a tweet. Hardly a surprise considering the Kardashian family twitter followers equate to the same size of a small country (the sum total of Kim, Khloe and Kourtney’s twitter followers is 36.2 million).
As I see it, there are 6 key marketing, and branding, attributes that businesses can learn from the Kardashians.
Fingers in pies
If ever there was a time to bet a little in a lot of places, then it’s now. The Kardashians have invested in anything and everything from perfumes to clothing lines to even a short-lived pop career. This strategy minimises risk across your brand.
Whether your brand has an identifiable niche or not, how will you know which avenue works best? Like the Kardashian family can you place your brand in a few different markets? Measure activity and figure out which provides the best return and adjust accordingly. Once you have identified your strengths, become an expert in that area – you want to be the brand people first think of.
There is no such thing as bad publicity…
…a phrase which rings true when Kim’s sex tape went viral, Momager Kris Jenner stepped in and turned bad press into good press attention. The publicity storm surrounding the debacle gave the Kardashians the platform they needed to start building their empire. Even if there is bad press around your industry in general, your brand or a product, take the opportunity to comment or write a blog post outlining your stance.
Find your brand’s voice
Having a voice is one of the most important aspects of your branding strategy. This is particularly important if you want people to consider you as an authority on a topic as mentioned previously.
If you are yet to establish your voice you can start by producing or sharing relevant content via a blog or social media platforms. The Kardashians’ voice lies in fashion, modelling and lifestyle and can be heard across both online and offline marketing channels.
Contribute to the conversation
The Kardashian family are the ‘go-to gals’ for their advice on a range of products and industries from fake tans to interior design, whether it’s on TV or twitter. Once you have established your voice, people will want to hear what you have to say – just as people want to hear what Kim has to say. So much so that she is rumored to have earned $25K from luxury brand Armani for a single tweet.
Take the time to answer customers’ questions, jump onto breaking news with an opinion, share links to other industry related content. Being a part of the conversation will enhance your position as an expert in your field. Not only will this drive traffic but also give you credibility, something which certainly shouldn’t be overlooked and will encourage customer loyalty.
Your fans are a powerful marketing tool
Like many celebrities (read ‘Is fandom out of control?’) the Kardashians, attribute a lot of their success to their fans. Angling your fans as a marketing tool can be extremely successful for your brand. There is a huge online community that can do all the work for you, as they can drive social shares and interaction.
Khloe Kardashian in particular is an advocate for this marketing strategy. They created ‘Tumblr Tuesday’ which sees credit given to any fans that create a fansite for them. You may not be able to directly apply this to your brand but letting your fans know you are listening is extremely powerful. Repost or share a picture of them using your product or give them a shoutout on Twitter or Facebook if they signed up to your service.
Make your content work harder
As tempting as it is to hit the share button as soon as a blog post goes live, spread your content distribution out and it will go a lot further. The Kardashian’s do this on a regular basis. Often an image will be posted on Instagram which will then be added to their blog the next day. The day after, perhaps two, the content will be shared on Facebook and Twitter. They have successfully stretched one piece of content into four and spread it over a week rather than one piece of content on one day. It’s also worth remembering that your audience is segmented and will consume information in different ways but don’t forget to spend the most time on a network that gives you the most value.
Love them or hate them (there, I said it!) I truly believe that we can learn from all situations even if it is from Kim Kardashian.
The cynics out there will probably say ‘well, she had a sex tape, she has a reality TV show…it’s easy’. But ask yourself, how many people have had the drive, ambition and nouse to do similar? I can’t think of many. The black and white of it is they are still online marketing innovators, with a multimillion pound brand – something we would all love to achieve, right?