Learning from 2 of the Best Marketing Strategy Case Studies

Walt Disney once said: If you can dream it, you can do it. Can you dream?  Have you noticed that the world of marketing is changing? A big cliché, yes? Yes, it is, but it is having a significant impact. And the change is rapid. Traditional media vehicles are losing effectiveness as people communicate in new and different ways. Here we will illustrate learning from the best marketing strategy case studies.


Mass audiences are fragmenting into small segments. Developing a point of difference is harder than ever. It takes a lot of creativeness, but it is certainly doable.


Related post: How to Get Small Business Press Coverage


Let’s consider a couple of examples to illustrate.


Guinness marketing strategy shows their creativity

This Guinness marketing campaign demonstrates that Guinness marketing has certainly noticed.

Check out our thoughts on creative marketing.


And Guinness marketing has adapted and come up with some cool new marketing ideas. This new ad from Guinness proves that beer commercials can be so much more than guys and bars.


“Empty Chair,” tells the story of a bartender who leaves a pint of Guinness at an empty table every night amongst birthday celebrations and sports team’s victories. No one sits at the table, and the woman shoots a dirty look to anyone she catches eyeing one of the empty chairs.


Without fail, the frosted glass is there each and every night. It’s a powerful image that serves as a sign of hope for the bartender. But we aren’t exactly sure who the beer is for until the very end. Everything comes together when a soldier finally returns home to claim his Guinness.


The spot finishes with the tagline “The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character.”


Guinness’s marketing story based on emotion has flipped traditional beer advertising on its head by getting rid of the template and telling a story – a real emotional story – that connects with people. The responses were overwhelmingly positive … customers and particularly the target customers are looking for meaningful stories. The emotion in this marketing strategy certainly is addressing this end state in our opinion.


This Guinness “Empty Chair” commercial salutes the character of a community as they honor one of their own who is out of sight, but not out of mind. They remind us that a true test of character is what you do when no one’s looking.


The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character. Guinness proudly raises a glass to those who are #MadeOfMore.


Guinness has made the message as clean and simple as possible. You cannot overachieve on the simplicity of the message.  A message that the reader will quickly grasp and fully appreciate. Keep in mind that pictures are far more valuable than words. Guinness certainly gets it and tells an interesting story as it weaves the message together.


Many business leaders are uncertain about the future. What will great marketing look like in the years ahead? Guinness’ spot shows the way.


The marketing works in many ways.


First, it breaks through the clutter. It is visually arresting, surprising and beautiful. After watching it once, I wanted to watch it again. There are no better means of influence or the power of persuasion than emotion. Hands down the best, in our opinion. And enhanced with a great dose of curiosity.


stories and emotion
Are you using stories and emotion?

Experiences that trigger our emotions are saved and consolidated in lasting memory because the emotions generated by the experiences signal our brains that the experiences are important to remember.


Second, it has solid branding; it is clear that this is for Guinness and the brand’s personality.


Third, it communicates a benefit. The entire spot revolves around the Guinness commitment to people.  It is very clear that Guinness has something special and remarkable that they want to share.


The ad has generated an astonishing amount of buzz and attention. It is engaging, well branded and focused.


The ad was serious and emotional. It is like they left a note that says:


… there will be a seat left open, a light left on, a favorite dinner waiting, a warm bed made…because in your home, in our hearts; you’ve been missed. You’ve been needed, you’ve been cried for, prayed for. You are the reason we push on.


It touches deep emotions about loss and longing. And the spot worked to build the brand; it made people feel proud of Guinness and its values.


Example takeaways

Stories and emotion are the future of great marketing strategy, aren’t they?


12 Lessons from Ben and Jerry’s Marketing Strategies

Ben and Jerry’s marketing is changing the game of social.


What are you favorite brands? Which ones do you follow closely and learn the most from? When choosing to learn from others marketing successes, it is always helpful to choose great brands to follow. We follow Ben and Jerry’s marketing strategies because of their creativeness and unique approach to customer focus.


Meet Ben and Jerry’s. They have been successfully executing their social marketing strategy and plan for the first days of social media and social commerce. For over 20 years their strategies have played a significant role in their growth.


An introduction to Ben and Jerry’s is unnecessary, isn’t it?


With more than 600 retail locations in 34 countries, the ice cream scoop shop is the picture of success.


Ben and Jerry’s rode the baby boomer trend in the late 1980s, the swelling ranks of mid-age professionals that created the need where people could share and enjoy a unique ice cream dessert with friends and colleagues, away from work and home.


In our opinion, the company has changed the way companies market themselves to customers. Here is how we feel they have been so successful:


market segmentation
Lots of uses for market segmentation.


Marketing Strategy Case Studies … market segmentation

The company has stayed with the upper-scale of the ice cream market, competing on product quality rather than convenience or price, which are the case with its closest competitors. They target customers with high-end ice cream tastes and unique flavors.



The company continues to focus on its original product bundle that includes great ice cream, unique flavors, quality service, and a nice environment to hang around. They keep their focus on paying attention to the details of great execution and service.


Social Media

One of the earliest adopters of the use of social media for marketing and social commerce, Ben and Jerry’s has certainly taken a leadership position in social engagement. Their social media strategy is built on their company website and six additional social platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, G+, Instagram, and YouTube.


Adaptation and innovation

Ben and Jerry’s have clearly embraced the social realm. With a strong presence on multiple social networks, the brand has set a high bar when it comes to being social and engaging its customers. They are at or near the top of nearly every major brand ranking in social commerce.


Ben and Jerry’s ability to wear so many hats on corporate success, “local” favorite, and Internet sensation warrants close examination.


What makes this company so good at being social and executing a great marketing strategy? And what can it teach us?  Here are our thoughts on these questions:


Customer collaboration

Collaboration with customers is used to obtain customer ideas on new flavors. Fans inspired the best-selling Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavors.


Customer relationships

Instead of solely focusing efforts on accumulating new customers, it cultivates its current relationships. This ensures more fans/followers in the long run, as well as the continued existence of brand advocates. This holds true across the board: in-store experiences are highly valued, along with online engagement, emphasizing the importance of customer service.


Interactive customer engagement

Engagement is a high priority for the brand, and they continually look for new ways to collect inputs from customers.  A good current example is their ‘Scoop Truck’, which travels around the country giving out free samples of new products and soliciting customer inputs.


They believe in letting customer engagement and conversation occur as naturally as possible.  They listen carefully, observe, and apply new ideas from what they learn.


Encourage sharing

Happy customers are eager to share good experiences and offers. For example, frequent promotions garner an extraordinary amount of engagement on social media through comments, “likes,” and shares.


Social mission focus

Ben and Jerry’s brand has always chosen a social mission … to stand for and stand behind. One great example of an issue they got behind was supporting the push to get corporate dollars out of politics … www.getthedoughout.org.


Experience customization

Ben and Jerry’s provides its unique experience through programs such as personalized ice cream flavors and localized store experiences. Their social sites, in particular, Pinterest and Instagram, encourage users to share their Ben and Jerry’s moments’ which are shared on all their social sites.


Taking a stand

Giving consumers a charitable reason to buy that ice cream cone or package is beneficial for all. The takeaway from Ben and Jerry’s is to know your customer and tie that in with what matters in the world … so, pay attention to how your brand can fit into trending topics.


 Showing customer appreciation

Appreciation for their customers. The lead in a quote to this article from Ben Cohen says it all about their culture and success at showing customers appreciation.


Whether we are discussing businesses that are social, the best at engaging customers, or being great at a social commerce business, there are few businesses in the class of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.


Being social is a core component of Ben and Jerry’s marketing strategy. It is the integrating ingredient of their online and online to traditional marketing/media.


Not all businesses can go to the extent that Ben and Jerry’s does. But they can support local issues and do weekly online promotions to increase customer engagement, gain new customers and convert good customers into advocates.


Lots of ideas here that can be easily replicated … which ones do you feel could benefit your business? How could you improve the Ben and Jerry’s marketing strategy for your business?


marketing strategy



Need some help in capturing more customers from your marketing strategies? Creative ideas to help the differentiation with potential customers?


Call today for a FREE consultation or a FREE quote. Learn about some options to scope your job.

Call Mike at 607-725-8240.


All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new ideas.


When things are not what you want them to be, what’s most important is your next step. Call today.


Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.


Are you devoting enough energy to improve your marketing, branding, and advertising?


Do you have a lesson about making your marketing strategy better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?


Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+Twitter, and LinkedIn.  


Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change.  We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.


More reading on marketing and advertising from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library:

Pinterest Marketing … Rich Pin Tips for Discovery Shopping

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How to Get Small Business Press Coverage

Secrets to BMW Marketing Videos … Effective Campaign?



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Learning from 2 of the Best Marketing Strategy Case Studies