Episode 29: How Mars Makes Content the Cat’s Meow

Guest: Rob Rakowitz Global Director of Media, Mars

The customer should be at the center of every marketing campaign. Before selling, though, advertisers need to make the right impression. Content that connects with target audiences is king nowadays, as message pushing continues to wane in effectiveness. Businesses must adapt to their target’s needs in order to have a fighting chance at conversions. Award-winning content marketer Rob Rakowitz, Global Director of Media at Mars, understands better than most that catering to your audience drives brand engagement. (Show notes by Jay Tellini).

Hear Rakowitz share his marketing advice on this week’s episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite. You can listen to the podcast above. Here are this episode’s highlights:

Understanding how customers behave is an essential step towards marketing success. Mars’s Uncle Ben’s brand team noticed that consumers who start their meals with rice are more likely to select a lean protein or a vegetable to go along with it. Under Rakowitz’s leadership, the brand message was refocused accordingly. Rakowitz says, “Uncle Ben’s is about helping consumers make sure that they’re making great food choices on a daily basis.”

To promote this message, Rakowitz’s team launched health-driven campaigns for the brand. In the UK, for instance, the team created a series of short viral videos with a celebrity chef to show consumers how to prepare healthy foods. Given the correlation between Uncle Ben’s products and consumers’ healthy meal choices, the campaign yielded some savory results for Rakowitz’s team at Mars.

Rakowitz used behavioral data to manage the campaign and repurposed the videos for a variety of mediums. “We then figured out how to take that two-minute video and cut it down to 30’s,” says Rakowitz, “which we could put on TV and various social channels—Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.” This campaign owes much of its success to the marketing team’s willingness to learn about Uncle Ben’s target audience—what they want, how they behave and where they go to get their information.

Once Mars finds their customer insights, Rakowitz and his marketing team work to produce a clear and meaningful message. “Media is starting to hit more and more functions both within marketing and outside of it,” says Rakowitz. “The more you can simplify down what it is that [your business is] trying to do from a vision perspective, the better an idea travels.” Because the Uncle Ben’s team made the brand’s healthy eating message clear and executed it efficiently, Rakowitz had a more successful campaign on his hands.

A clear message also depends on defined goals, which Rakowitz says that Uncle Ben’s, Pedigree, and Snickers have all done well. “These brands truly understand that they need to reach more and more customers,” Rakowitz says. “The way that they’re going to do that is not just by throwing advertisers out there, but it’s by actually really figuring out what is their brand’s purpose.” Mars frames its products as solutions rather than simply as objects to establish credible brand identities in the minds of consumers.

Once those impressions are in place, it’s important that target audiences can maintain a healthy relationship with the brand. It all leads back to 4 C’s of conversion, according to Rakowitz: consumers, customers, communications, and commerce. When companies tie these pieces together, they’ll be well positioned to create and execute valuable messages.

Sometimes this means offering a service before selling. Like the Uncle Ben’s campaign, Mars also found value in educating consumers for the corporation’s Whiskas cat food product line. This team launched Kitten Kollege, a series of tongue-in-cheek videos that informed kitten owners about their pets’ life stages. Even though the campaign didn’t specifically push Whiskas, Kitten Kollege earned tangible results for Mars. Rakowitz says, “A lot of the insights that we shared were actually proprietary to Mars and we were able to connect them back to Whiskas.”

Offering a helpful service to customers was a core tenet of both the Whiskas and Uncle Ben’s campaigns. Rakowitz recommends that any other business do the same for its brands. “Don’t message push,” he says. “Think about creating an experience and a solution.”

Meet the Guest

As the Global Director of Media at Mars, Rob Rakowitz is always multitasking. He’s in charge of multiple brands within the Mars corporation, working to present a clean and engaging persona for each one. A learned professional, Rakowitz holds an MBA in Strategic Management and recently earned a CMO Club award for his prowess in content marketing.

Rakowitz demonstrates his skills both in and out of the office. He’s a member of a competitive cycling team, where he works with his teammates to deliver a high level of performance. Rakowitz is also a true citizen of the world, as he speaks five languages.

What You'll Learn

  • How to make your marketing campaign stick.
  • The significance of identifying brand purpose and engaging with consumer culture.
  • How to diversify your marketing strategy.
  • Why service is the new selling.

Quotes from Rob Rakowitz

  • Keep things simple.
  • Embrace the ability to be agile.
  • Think about creating an experience and a solution.
  • [Mars’s] brands truly understand that they need to reach more and more consumers… by actually really figuring out what is their brand's purpose.

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