B2C marketing can be almost anything — an Instagram story, an in-depth interview, or even a short film — but it can’t be boring. If you’re boring, then you’ve already lost your audience.
Unfortunately, many brands spend too much time talking about the details of product specifications and features, and not enough time creating compelling and interesting content that people truly want to watch, read, or follow.
Output is different. The company creates software and gear for musicians, composers, producers and sound designers, and you might think their marketing would be a bit boring and technical. But you’d be very, very wrong.
The brand has a serious cool factor, driven by Joey Ng, the VP of Marketing at Output. Ng has a background in fashion brands, including seven years at American Apparel as a Marketing Director and VP of Marketing at a lingerie startup, and she’s brought her creative mindset to Output.
Instead of focusing on their product’s features and specifications, Joey focuses the brand’s marketing on the artists, musicians, and producers who use their software to create amazing music.
In this exclusive interview, Joey shares:
- The 80/20 rule she follows for all marketing content
- How she builds a community around the brand with in-person events
- The importance of storytelling in your marketing
- …and much more.
LISTEN TO EPISODE 9: THE EMPOWERED MARKETER
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW
1. Who exactly is your target audience for Output? Is it hard to find them and engage them?
As a marketer, I’m very blessed to have such a niche market, rather than a mass consumer good. Anyone could potentially buy sunglasses, but not everyone’s going to buy a piece of software or a studio desk from Output. Because of our product and how sophisticated it is, the quality it is, and even the price point that it is, the Output buyer is a professional music maker.
Whether you’re a composer, or a producer, or you play in a band and you’d like to add rhythm effects to your live performances, people buy our stuff because it’s a want and not a need. They’re making a living based on music, as opposed to the hobbyists. And so, when you have such a defined audience, it’s a lot easier to find them out in the world.
Developing relationships in the music community is really important, and we really put that at the forefront of all that we do, not just in marketing. Our company consists of all musicians, so we can really speak the speak when we look for people to market to.
2. How do you market to that highly influential audience of musicians and performers?
We hate the hard sell. To us, I think, because we’re speaking to creative people, it isn’t deal oriented or focused on the sale. Instead, we’re building a real connection with them, and also providing them with tools to help them make music. That is our slogan right on the home page. We help you make music.
That’s the first thing that we consider when we think about making any piece of content or any piece of marketing is: does this help someone make music? Does it provide them with knowledge? Is it entertaining? Are we focusing an A-list producer, a composer, and getting behind the curtain with them and teaching our audience something new? We’d really rather show them and teach them something, than talk about our product in specifics all the time.
Since it’s 2018, we all scroll through our Facebook feeds and Instagram feeds. Because of that, a lot of our content is video-based. But before we can get someone to watch a video, we have to arrive into their feeds. And so, a lot of that is a mix of paid social media, as well as email marketing campaigns, which we initiate through Zaius to let people know ‘Hey, perhaps you’d like to get in the studio with Om’Mas Keith today.’
We don’t always include our software in our content. With that example, it really is getting talk to a legendary producer about the records that he makes, and it doesn’t mention our products. But sometimes, we might be working with more emerging producers who do want to talk about it. For example, Scribz Riley, he was nominated for a Grammy for having produced a song on Khalid’s album this past year. The song was crafted with our software, and he wanted to talk about it. There is a fine balance between let’s do something because it’s a good idea, as opposed to, let’s only do it if it features us.
3. Once you’ve created this interesting content, how do you get it out there? You said you do paid social and email, but are there any other ways that you’re communicating with your audience?
We also have organic social media. We’re active on Instagram and Twitter. Not too many brands — outside of fashion — have really caught on to Instagram stories. So, when we’re doing organic or paid social media outreach through Instagram stories, we get a very high engagement rate, and people are sort of surprised that we’re using that vehicle to tell them another story.
A lot of it is also interpersonal. We get into the studio with artists, take them to lunch. They hit us up through Twitter DMs to say, ‘Hey, I love using your stuff,” and then we continue the conversation through there. People who really like using our things are advocates as well. They’re not afraid to be in a studio saying, ‘Hey, what sound was that?’ And, they’ll be like, ‘That’s that Output stuff.’
We like to do things in-person, not even just for the music community. Our office is right across from the Los Angeles State Historic Park and once a month, we host a bonfire with a mix of s’mores and a DJ set by one of our staff members. Perhaps a live jazz band, that sort of thing. We definitely try to create communities online and off.
4. Why do you think that personalization is so important in your marketing?
Creativity is so personal. For someone to work in the field of music and be successful enough to make a living from it, I think a lot of them would say it’s because they’ve crafted their own sounds. No one wants to sound like the next person on the track list, and our products really help people individualize specific sounds very quickly.
That sort of personal touch has to extend to the marketing and how we speak to people because everyone wants to feel unique. Especially in the creative world, it’s important to have a distinct voice.
5. When you launch something like a new product, how do you approach it? Since you try not to talk about your products as much, how do you inform your audience about it?
It’s all in the balance. There are times where we are very product specific — usually surrounding a launch. In the world of software or music software, we find that everybody wants that new, new. It’s most interesting to someone when it’s brand new, and the curve might look like it goes up on launch day and then it dramatically drops off.
During the launch period, we do have a thought out plan in terms of our editorial calendar of how we speak about the product in different ways. This is when it is about the product. We have introductory discounts for our loyal customers in that period. But then, after that sort of big, new product rush, we definitely switch back gears, and intersperse it more with content.
I would say it’s probably an 80/20 rule — so 80% of the time, we really are providing educational, entertaining music pieces and 20% of the time, we talk about our product and tips to use it better.
6. What’s a project that you’ve worked on at Output that you’re really proud of?
Coming from more of a fashion background, the ratio really is all women and the occasional guy in the fashion world. In the music world, it’s the exact opposite. When I came in, I was one of two women in an office full of cool dudes with beards. When you’re in studios, when you’re at labels, women in music are definitely much lower in terms of the percentage count of employees. Even artists, when you take a look at a festival line-up, it’s all of these white dudes who are DJs, and maybe a couple of women are featured.
Coming into this role and being around so much girl power for the majority of my career, I wanted to do something so that the face of music and our content is a lot more diverse. One of the first things we did was host a panel with nine female composers who were putting on a concert called The Future Is Female. And, I really loved that. Our company was open and embraced that sort of content, and highlighted people who aren’t always at the forefront of this industry.
7. What do you think is going to be important in the world of B2C marketing in the future? How do you think brands will stand out most?
I think that personalization is key. We all like to believe that we’re special and unique, and we’re not going to waste our money on generic things anymore. I think sustainability is a big question. Having things that are customized to your lifestyle or, your expressive voice in the world. You want to be able to buy a shirt that looks like you.
And so, even with music, we’ve talked about how important it is to sound like yourself and be unique. In marketing, I think every message should be tailored to the person who’s reading it through the lens of who you are as a brand.
The more dynamic personalization we can do with our marketing tools, the better we’ll be able to communicate with people at large.