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How Timberland Is Embracing the Future of Content Marketing
The Timberland brand has always been about one iconic product: the yellow boot. But even this one item has come to mean different things to different groups of consumers around the world. For the content marketing team, led by Senior Manager of Paid and Digital Media Frank Hwang, it’s challenging to tell the story of a pair of shoes that are worn on both on construction sites and runways around the world. On top of this, Timberland has built a reputation for more than just shoes. “We make everything except underwear,” says Frank, pointing to an array of stylish products from watches and backpacks to t-shirts and blazers.
“Most marketers would kill for this type of awareness, but it’s also our biggest challenge. The boot is known for all these great things, but it’s also known to many people around the world for different things.” –Frank Hwang, Timberland
But being one of the world’s most recognizable apparel brands, comes with its challenges. Namely, not only does Timberland’s content strategy have to accommodate dozens of product lines, categories, channels, and regions each season, but each of these might have multiple storylines and goals that the brand needs to promote and capture. Without a method of organizing and tracking all these elements, it would be easy to have confusing or conflicting messages floating around about Timberland’s products. “As we look at our owned and paid media, how do we integrate and tell all those stories?” asks Frank.
It all starts with a brief
The Timberland brand may be “all things to all people,” but for each campaign, the marketing team must focus in on specific storylines and goals. For example, Timberland’s latest footwear launch was a sneaker-boot hybrid called Flyroam that was built with the “Heart” of their classic boot, but with the sleek design and “Soul” of a sneaker.
Like all great marketing, the Flyroam campaign began with a thoughtful brief, which outlined the vision for the launch. The brief provides a source of alignment on critical information before content is created and directs creatives as they craft and execute the brand’s content. So, what were the elements of the brief that were most important for the Flyroam campaign?
- Target Audience – Timberland’s products are beloved across generations, but for Flyroam, Frank’s team wanted to speak specifically to a youthful, urban consumer ages 18-24 without alienating their broader customer base.
- Channels – To reach their target audience the Timberland marketing team needed to execute a variety of content activations across channels including TV spots, digital advertisements, and social media marketing.
- Key Insight – All great campaigns are driven by a central finding or idea about the consumer’s preferences, choices, and lifestyle that guide creative decision making. For Timberland, the central insight was that young consumers were tired of advertising clutter and wanted to be entertained by branded content, not merely sold to.
- Objective – The campaign objectives outline what success looks like for the initiative. For Flyroam, Timberland want to focus on raising awareness for their brand and enhancing their credibility as a maker of sneaker-hybrid footwear, leading to an increase in sales of the Flyroam line.
Understanding building blocks of Timberland’s content
But Flyroam is just one launch campaign for one product during one season. If you zoom out and look at Timberland’s wider content strategy, the number of product lines, journey stages, objectives, stories, and channels increases exponentially. So, how does a brand like Timberland track and manage all of these elements of their strategy across all their content?
The answer is metadata. Simply put, metadata is data about your data. It can be used to encode the elements of a brand’s strategy into its campaigns, content, or assets. For instance, a Facebook ad created for the Flyroam campaign could be tagged with a selection of strategic attributes such as “Footwear,” “Men’s,” “18-24,” or “Awareness.” Allowing the team not only to track the attributes of a single piece of content but also aggregate information about their content as a whole.
Timberland has a structure of metadata tags within Percolate – their System of Record for Marketing – this way, their content calendar can be easily sorted, searched, and analyzed based on any element of their content strategy. This enables the Timberland team not only to publish a high volume of content without losing the thread of single campaign storylines and initiatives, but also allows them to answer questions like:
- What percentage of my content was aimed at customers early in their buying journey versus late in their buying journey?
- How much of my content was focused on women’s product lines versus men’s or kid’s?
- What portions of my content speak to urban millennials versus Italian fashionistas versus construction professionals?
As the Timberland brand continues to evolve to serve new generations and launch new products, this type of technology is going to be increasingly valuable – serving as a record of past strategies, a guide for today’s executions, and roadmap for the content of tomorrow.
See how Percolate could help you get better insight into your brand’s content strategy. Talk to a Percolate expert today.