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5 Marketing Strategies From Major Brands: What You Can Learn From Their Mistakes and Successes You don't need a big budget to learn from these big-budget brands.

By Jim Joseph

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Gregory Rec | Getty Images

Marketing is a spectator sport. We can all learn from each other by observing what brands do in the marketplace, even if we don't have big budgets.

Specifically, we're finding more and more brands making a buzz in the court of social media, and there's something to be learned from every one of them: the good and the, shall we say, not-so-good.

Marketing strategy mishaps

PepsiCo

One of the most newsworthy marketing moments of late came from PepsiCo, which made headlines about snacks designed for women. Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree talking about "Lady Doritos," asking CEO Indra Nooyi to focus on the bigger issues facing women that are making headlines right now. Even Ellen had something to say about it!

The lesson: Before any public announcement, prepare a message track that you have vetted with those closest to you to make sure it all makes sense. Then, make sure you understand the greater consciousness happening in the world and consider it in everything you say and do.

Related: 10 Marketing Influencers That Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From

Ram

We recently enjoyed an entire buffet of Super Bowl commercials, many of them scoring quite well with consumers. But, one commercial in particular failed to resonate the way the company must have hoped. Ram Trucks used a voiceover clip from a speech from Dr. Martin Luther King that talks about service, and in the context of the commercial, it came across as disingenuous.

The lesson: Make sure your branding is consistent across the board, from your product or service offering to all of your marketing materials and messaging.

Related: 4 Ways to Market Your Business for Free

Marketing strategy successes

L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean, via Facebook and perhaps other touch-points, announced that it was no longer offering a lifetime guarantee, but rather a one-year return policy along with further consideration for defects that occur after that time. The company basically blamed those who abused the policy for having to eliminate it.

Yet, many customers explained that the lifetime guarantee was the only reason to purchase and the only justification for the price points. L.L. Bean kept quiet for a moment, and let other customers come to its defense by explaining the reasonableness of the policy and the need to uphold sustainable business policies. I actually joined in myself on that one! As a result, what could have been bad buzz quickly became a non-news item.

The lesson: Let your loyalists speak on your behalf in good times and in bad. Others can be far more influential for you than you can be for yourself.

CVS

Retailer CVS announced that it will no longer retouch photography in the marketing of its beauty products and it will stamp or label any other brands who continue to retouch or alter imagery, in an effort to promote positive self-esteem and healthy beauty standards. While viewed in conjunction with its decision to discontinue tobacco products a few years back, this move was heralded as yet another triumph.

The lesson: create a powerful platform that people can rally behind and that is at the core of what you do, and stick to it by repeating it with consistent and innovative initiatives over and over again.

Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

Gerber

After 140,000 applications to be the new Gerber spokesbaby, the brand picked its first baby with Down Syndrome after 90 years, which met with an immediate standing ovation on social media. The brand announced Lucas on The Today Show. According to Gerber CEO Bill Partyka in a press release, it was Lucas's "winning smile and joyful expression" that won him the role and by the looks of the pic everyone could see why. In one moment, Gerber proved its long-lasting mantra of inclusion that says "every baby is a Gerber baby."

The lesson: Make sure your marketing materials reflect your brand -- and prevailing attitudes that are relevant to your brand.

Marketing is certainly a spectator sport, for big brands and small. Pay attention to what's out there in the marketplace, and you'll learn things that you can positively apply to your marketing plan, too.

Jim Joseph

Marketing Master - Author - Blogger - Dad

Jim Joseph is the chief integrated marketing officer and president of the Americas for New York-based communications agency Cohn & Wolfe, part of the media company WPP Group PLC. He is the award-winning author of The Experience Effect series, teaches marketing at New York University, and is on the board of directors for the number one branding school in the country, The VCU Brandcenter. Joseph's new book, Out and About Dad, chronicles his unique journey as a father during a unique time in our cultural evolution.

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