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  • Writer's pictureKara Maddox

4 Brand Marketing Tips for Beginners

Hi! I'm Kara. Welcome to the Digital Millennial – a blog built to help you bring your brand online.

Pike's Peak Summit

To us, ‘brand marketing’ is another way of saying ‘personality marketing’ – how do you act online and how does this compare to your offline world? And what exactly is personality? These are questions the Digital Millennial seeks to answer – how can we help new explorers navigate our digital landscape, set up shop, thrive and win?

To help make that jump to digital, you'll want to start with an outline - here are the four ingredients you’ll need to create a plan of your own:

1. Data. To make the right decisions, to understand where to start – to know how to show up to the meeting, you need data. And that’s the same no matter where you are – online or off.

Data sometimes has a bad wrap because, well, it just sounds boring. It conjures images of gray, stuffy cubicles, under-lit offices and...numbers, lots and lots of numbers. And while numbers are important, it’s the qualitative nature, the story these numbers reveal that makes the difference. Why? Simply because most of us don’t think in numbers. We think in language and images.

“And by this data there are twelve problems solved,” said Robert Morden back in the late 17th century. He was one of the first to use the term, data, in English while describing his collection of maps. He suggested a strong connection between data and problem solving centuries ago, and he’s still right!

Allen Gannett_The Creative Curve

Data solves problems by showing us where to start. Get the right data, and increase your odds of success – that’s what Allen Gannet, creator of Trackmaven and author of The Creative Curve: How to Develop the Right Idea, at the Right Time (which hits shelves next month) says when he talks strategy. He’s built his multi-million dollar business off the stuff, not because it sounds cool, but because it works. Data is your friend. At KJM, that is our first step in developing a successful plan. It is the foundation. We get our hardhats and mine that data!

2. Content. To say it simply: content is king. Period. This is the core of your personality, the variety in life. Are you a ‘one trick’ pony? Do you even have a pony? Content is the spice to your sauce. It puts meat on the bones. It makes you interesting and unique. It keeps your audience coming back, and without it, people have no reason to ‘talk to you.’

It would be like showing up to a dinner party and not saying a word. You may have met people like this. Why were they even there? At best, we attribute this lurking to the good food, and at worst, we get creeped out. In both situations, people may misjudge your intentions if you have no content. It’s the same online. Are you lurking in the digital shadows?

What’s the best content out there? How do you create the goodstuff? The answer is rooted not in top-notch gadgets, apps and programs, but in truth.

The best content is authentic content.

People—especially Millennials—have a knack for telling the difference between what’s authentic and what’s not when it comes to online brand marketing. And the reason for that isn’t some extra gray matter, but time.

Clear and simple: there is a batch of older Millennials on what we call the Millennial Spectrum that remembers a time with no cell phones, no computers, no internet, no Facebook. To some younger folks, these were the murky ‘dark ages,’ a time they have trouble even picturing simply because they didn’t live it. Anybody remember the game snake? What about texting through numbers on your jumbo keypad?

These older Millennials know what’s authentic because we’ve seen which brands have thrived by taking the leap to digital. We can spot the winners straight away, and with us, we’ll use those successful advertising techniques to help you.

3. Search Optimization. This concept is fragmented into many different areas like SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing), SEA (Search Engine Advertising), SMO (social media optimization)… just to name a few, and a lot of them are expensive bells and whistles. Don’t get me wrong, you can funnel a good part of your marketing budget into these areas, but don’t become dependent on them. To relate this noise to offline life, these optimization plans are important as long as the core is of quality.

Let’s track back to that dinner party. You’ve been thinking about this party for months. You’ve had it marked on your calendar since last year, and the year before that, you planted the seed to get the invite. You buy a new suit – you even went to Need-less Mark-up department store, landed some new kicks, new bling – even hired Uber Black for the night. You have ‘upped’ your chances of somebody talking to you, you appear important, you’re dressed to the nines.

You walk in, and somebody speaks to you straight away. What do you say? How do you react? Are you all bling and no brains?

Search Optimization gives you that killer dress, those cute pumps, the materialistic, pretty appearance, but it’s the quality content that creates meaningful, symbiotic relationships. And you got one shot. You show up to that party, you look beyond and you got farts comin’ out your month – it’s done. First impression over.

That’s why you need the 4th and last component to construct a great map – you need a plan, and your plan needs a purpose people can understand.

The Peace Sign Plan

4. Plan with a purpose. Visually, these four components are not linear; they’re circular. Think of a peace sign – a circle divided into three main areas with a common point of intersection straight dab in the middle. That's where your plan sits – in the middle (like a clock). It is the heart of your brand, your personality, and it’s constantly moving in you guessed it, a circle.

Start at the top right compartment – this is your data area, and this is where you start. Moving clockwise, you enter the content compartment, and at last, you’re headed back up to search optimization. It’s important to note your plan doesn’t stop there; you continue back to data, because by now, you have new input to consider. You have new metrics, new feedback, and new experiences. Based on this, you ask: do I keep doing what I’m doing, or do I adjust?

If this sounds familiar, you already know why this works. This is life boiled down to your four basic needs: the need to live, the need for variety, the need for love and the need for purpose. Picture that same peace sign. On the top right, you have life. This is all the input your senses take in day in and day out – these are data points.

Peace Sign Life

Moving clockwise, we enter variety. This is the output that makes up your life – these are the funny jokes you tell on a first date, the news reel you repeat at work, the adventures you write about as a kid, the advice you give your best friend, or the postcard you wrote to your grandmother. This is the content that makes up your life; the variety that makes you thrive.

Heading to our last compartment, we have love. Love starts with that clinch of your stomach, those butterflies, that chemical reaction that just happens. It’s a walk between fate and time, an algorithm that’s allowed us to evolve. It’s physical attraction, the first impression, and how you begin to build a meaningful relationship. Like search optimization – you must have that quality core to keep your relationships. Yes, how you look does matter at first – but quality matters most.

Finally, your plan with purpose is the center; it is the mechanism that moves the hands of your clock from data, content, search optimization; from life, variety, love back to life.

And the quality of your ‘data’ depends on the quality of your life.

When you enter the digital world, you should trust us at KJMdigital as your guides. We know the landscape, we understand where you’re coming from, and most importantly, we know where to go.

So what’s KJMdigital all about?

Connect the dots_Par marketingthema

We’re a group of Hopkins grads eager to apply the skills we learned through our MA in Communications coursework. Some of us specialize in niche areas like B2B content marketing, B2B social media marketing, business marketing and brand marketing. Our one main common denominator is we all know how to translate the offline world to all things digital. We come from all over the United States (and the world), which brings a unique freshness to an increasingly crowded space. We have the latest research, the tools to make things happen, and the minds to connect the dots.

We value radical transparency, authenticity and independence. Accustomed to JHU’s online courses, KJMdigital keeps a similar schedule where our team meets once a week to discuss upcoming deliverables, due dates and our community outreach projects. We have boots on the ground in the government, health care, real estate and education sectors – all areas in need of digitizing their communication initiatives.

Why choose KJMdigital?

With KJMdigital, we’re here to help bridge those gaps between the offline and online world. We have a wide range of life experiences and backgrounds that make us both unique and competitive. Johns Hopkins University chose us - why shouldn't you?


Need help reaching your audience? The KJMdigital mission is to serve and support the creative community both online and off. And the KJM Team works because our mission and values align with what we value - radical transparency, autonomy and flexibility. At KJMdigital, we put people first because we know real relationships are what matter most.

Interested in learning more? Get our weekly post sent straight to your inbox by reaching out! We are always here to help!

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