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How to compete with "Goliath" brands

The era of big brands dominating everything is over. The rules of the game are always changing, and the ones that find themselves at the finish line are always the ones that are open to change.

When a smaller company enters the market, they often have many hurdles to overcome -- how can they stand up against the established brands with deep pockets? At the 2015 iMedia Agency Summit, Kevin Ryan, Founder and CEO of Motivity Marketing and author of the best-selling book "Taking Down Goliath: Digital Marketing Strategies for Beating Competitors With 100 Times Your Spending Power", brought light to some of ways you can overcome these obstacles with strategy and level the playing field.

According to Ryan, marketing automation is an enabling technology that allows us to remove people from the equation. Today's "listicle" brand of communication is aiming for quick clicks and ad dollars -- leaving quality and real relationships behind. While these automated  technologies allow you to reach many of your target audience, relying on them too much can result in massive PR fails that exploit the same people that you want on your side.

Ryan brings up many examples of brands that over-depend on this impersonal, disjointed method of strategy. This includes brands like UPS and KY Jelly getting too close for comfort on Facebook, and forced partnerships like The Deadliest Catch and Carl's Jr. One of the most baffling is the idea of "apology marketing", which is when a brand sends the wrong message out and follows up with an apology email and discount offer.

Despite all this, Ryan is hopeful for the future of technology. People are finally starting to realize they're being exploited. When big bands keep screwing up, the small guys have the opportunity. He closes with a reminder that technology isn't sentient, and automation alone isn't strategy. If you can keep your strategy focused on people and relationships, you can jump over the big brands that are stumbling.

Agata is a writer, editor, and social media marketer living in Los Angeles. She's a former Associate Editor at iMedia Connection and Social Media Manager and Editor of MMX at Modern Marketing Summit. Before that, she worked in the healthcare,...

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