Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 20th 2015 Contents I recently started up my own aes-
thetic centre in the Philippines,
and I'm having a hard time getting
our name out there. What advice
can you offer on marketing a
fledgling company? (By the way,
I'm a filmmaker by profession, but
I was born into a family of busi-
Louis Padilla, the Philippines To get your brand out there,
you need to present your
business differently than
your competition does.
Louis, you might not be
experienced at marketing,
but your background in film is a huge advan-
tage. If you combine attention-getting
footage and social media exposure, you can
create something that resonates around the
globe and instantly builds your brand s rep-
My mentor---Sir Freddie Laker, the
owner of Laker Airways---gave me similar
advice in Virgin s early days, and this even-
tually defined our marketing strategy,
helping to make the Virgin brand inter-
AUGUST 20 • 2015 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG13
When we launched Virgin Atlantic, we were entering
an industry rife with big players. "Make sure you
appear on the front page and not the back pages,"
Sir Freddie told me.
"You are going to have to get out there and sell
yourself. Make a fool of yourself; whatever it takes.
Otherwise you won t survive."
I took Freddie s advice to heart. We drew attention
to Virgin Atlantic by creating spectacles. We floated
an airship with a sign saying "BA can t get it up"
above the London Eye Ferris wheel and flew a "UFO"
over London in the early hours of April Fools Day.
Over more than 40 years, the Virgin team has
launched hundreds of companies worldwide, and
I ve done some outrageously fun and entertaining
things in the name of marketing our products and
I donned a wedding dress to launch Virgin Brides;
drove a tank down Fifth Avenue in New York to
launch Virgin Cola; jumped off the roof of the Palms
Hotel and Casino to celebrate the first Virgin America
flight to Las Vegas; maneuvered an amphibious car
across the English Channel to mark Virgin Atlantic s
20th anniversary; and drank champagne while rap-
pelling down the side of a new Spaceport air hanger
for Virgin Galactic.
Our team has donned countless costumes, thrown
hundreds of parties and enlisted myriad people to
help us along the way. While not everything has
always gone according to plan---and I ve definitely
made a fool of myself---it has been worth it: we ve
put our products and services on the map.
Of course, Virgin isn t the only company that has
used inventive marketing to make a splash.
The band U2 put their album in the spotlight by
giving free copies to everyone with an iTunes account;
Samsung was behind the comedienne Ellen Degeneres
famous selfie at the Oscars a couple of years ago;
Taco Bell outraged some and entertained others by
placing an ad in The New York Times proclaiming
"Taco Bell Buys the Liberty Bell"; and Burger King
reinvented its signature burger with the release of
the "Left-Handed Whopper." The list goes on.
Startups and fledging companies especially have
a lot to gain from such tactics and do. Dollar Shave
Club was a relatively unknown company until it
released an online introductory video in 2012 that
went viral. The brand quickly achieved global fame
with millions of views.
So, Louis, get thinking. Ask yourself: why did you
start your business? What is it that sets your products
and services apart from the rest? What would you
ultimately like to achieve?
Once you have that down on paper, brainstorm
some fun and entertaining ways you can deliver your
message. And don t shy away from asking for help.
You said you were born into a business-minded
family; ask for their ideas and opinions.
If you run into naysayers, remind them that no
matter how great your product or service is, no one
will hear about it if you don t attract attention. It s
that simple. So do something original. Do something
your competitors have never thought of.
Above all, remember that inventive marketing---
and creativity in other areas of the business---is not
just rewarding, but a lot of fun.
(Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin
Group and companies such as Virgin Atlantic,
Virgin America, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Active.
He maintains a blog at www.virgin.com/richard-
branson/blog. You can follow him on Twitter at
twitter.com/richardbranson. To learn more about
the Virgin Group: www.virgin.com.)
(Questions from readers will be answered in
future columns. Please send them to RichardBran-
firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, coun-
try, e-mail address and the name of the website
or publication where you read the column.)
Drawing the spotlight to your business
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