​Let's conduct an experiment. I say a word and you tell me the first brand that comes to mind.

Tablet. You thought iPad, right? 

Search. You thought Google, correct?

Energy drink. I am assuming you thought Red Bull.

That is called ownership. Apple owns the tablet space with the iPad, Google owns the search market, and Red Bull is pretty much the only energy drink that matters. And yet?When you visit Red Bull's website, there is one word missing, one very important word. Beverage. Or drink.

It simply doesn't appear there because Red Bull isn't a beverage company, it is a content company that sells drinks. And that right there is the secret to it all and the way this company took absolute ownership over the energy drink space. 

Pay attention to these three lessons you should learn from Red Bull:

Jump out of planes.

If you are a marketer, you have gotten the question "How do we measure the results, the ROI of all our activity"? ten times today and it's only 9 A.M. If you are a CEO, you have asked that question countless times too. It is a valid question and an important one. And yet? Do you think every time Red Bull jumps out of a plane or does some other outrageous marketing activity that drives millions of video views, that they measure the impact that has on beverage sales? They don't and neither should you.

Yes, measure and quantify your marketing, but don't make the mistake of thinking that if something doesn't lead to more short term results, that it is not valuable. Jump out of planes, be creative, rise above the noise, be courageous in your marketing. 

Stop selling.

Well, this is just an extension of the previous point but let me say that loud and clear. Marketing is not just glorified sales. The two departments should complement each other but both have independent value and should not be underestimated. Not everything is about sales and not everything should be tied to have many products you ship.

There is sales and there is brand building. Red Bull does sales, they do advertising, but all of that only comes after the many touch points and endless brand exposure that is created with the crazy marketing campaigns that Red Bull does. 

Elevate your brand, then leverage that to optimize your sales, but make sure not to skip the first part.

Get out of your comfort zone.

I wasn't in the room when the CMO of Red Bull decided to transition the company from a player in the beverage space to a player in the content space, but I imagine the conversation went something like this. 

CMO: "Let's take the word "Beverage" off of the site."
CEO: "Excuse me? Are you feeling ok?"

CMO: "In a few years, when someone mentions energy drinks, there will only be one brand that matters, Red Bull. We will get there by means of our content."

CEO: "Sounds insane and intriguing. Let's do it."

Ok, I would imagine the conversation took a little longer than that, but the point is that not only did Red Bull make the decision to embrace content and go all in on this strategy, they also decided that their content won't be about beverages, but rather, energy.

They went broad, they stepped out of their comfort zone to build a lifestyle brand, a content brand, and through this strategy, which very few brands get, even today, achieved total market dominance. 

So, if you are a CEO of a company selling Barbie dolls, and if you are sold on the whole content thing, don't misunderstand and fall into the trap of producing content about your products. That is selling, not marketing. In fact, don't even produce content about dolls, in general. Go wide, go big, go long and set your north star as total ownership of your market, but always remember, jumping out of planes should not in theory sell more drinks, and yet, here we are, with a market full of energy drinks that don't matter and one brand that maintains total ownership of the space.

Jump out of planes, stop selling, get out of your comfort zone, and you will win.

Published on: Dec 6, 2018