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Marketing Strategy Examples: Proven Methods From 14 Top Brands

Published February 21, 2022
/ Updated August 9, 2022

Ask a room full of marketers about the most important element of a marketing strategy and you’ll get many different answers. Answers range from buyer personas to clear marketing goals to consistent messaging.

One thing they will agree on is that there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy.

As B2B marketer Jason Bradwell puts it, “Every company is different. Whether it’s what they want to achieve through marketing, common marketing approaches from the sector they operate in, how their buyers research and buy new products, or if the internal infrastructure can support a modern strategy, there are a thousand variables that influence whether a plan will work or not.”

That being the case, how can you come up with effective, custom marketing strategies and campaigns for your company?

Learn from these 14 exceptional marketing strategy examples.

Let’s take a look at how marketing teams of some of the world’s top brands generate brand awareness, create lead generation machines, and acquire new customers?

1. McDonald’s Marketing Strategy

Global fast-food brand McDonald’s is known for many successful marketing initiatives. It strategically markets to children via Happy Meals, McFlurry’s, and even playgrounds.

What makes McDonald’s marketing strategy unique:

The brand also had great success with influencer marketing, partnering with celebrities to create limited-edition meals.

Why does McDonald’s strategy work?

Influencer marketing in itself is powerful because it riffs off of the popularity and reach that powerful people have. The addition of urgency only increases the success of McDonald’s campaigns.

McDonald’s marketing strategy example:

In 2021, McDonald’s launched a limited-time meal in collaboration with K-Pop superstars BTS.

Reuters reported that “global sales and profit for McDonald’s Corp surged past Wall Street targets…as…consumers lapped up a wildly popular celebrity meal inspired by South Korean pop band BTS.”

McDonald’s Twitter status [source]

2. Disney Marketing Strategy

Disney—one of the most iconic brands in history—is loved by children and adults alike.

What makes Disney’s marketing strategy remarkable

You’d be hard-pressed to find a brand that combines experiential marketing and storytelling as effectively as Disney does.

Why does Disney’s strategy work?

Disney doesn’t just tell stories in the form of movies and TV shows. It gives fans opportunities to be part of those stories, most notably through Disneyland and Disneyworld.

This creates feelings of nostalgia and excitement—both of which keep loyal fans coming back and creates new supporters through word-of-mouth referrals.

Disney marketing strategy example:

The Walt Disney Company celebrated the 90-year anniversary of Mickey Mouse by hosting a pop-up experience, which was a hit among Disney fans.

The #Mickey90 hashtag originally associated with the event now has over 251K Mickey and Disney-related posts on Instagram alone.

#mickey90 hashtag to celebrate the character's 90th birthday

3. Starbucks Marketing Strategy

Love it or hate it, Starbucks has mastered the marketing of its premium coffee and tea.

What makes Starbucks’ marketing strategy remarkable

One of the secrets to Starbucks’ success has been its loyalty program, which rewards tens of millions of existing customers for their purchases.

Why does Starbucks’ strategy work?

This rewards program, of course, keeps the brand top of mind among its fans, enhancing the user experience. This translates into word-of-mouth referrals, brand mentions on and offline, and increased brand visibility.

Starbucks marketing strategy example:

Customers are rewarded with stars when they purchase a Starbucks drink. In 2020, 18.9 million active members used the gamified loyalty program—many of whom earned gold status for earning 450 stars in one year.

4. Pepsi Marketing Strategy

Largely through smart marketing, Pepsi has been able to give Coca-Cola a run for its money and expand its product lines beyond soft drinks.

What makes Pepsi’s marketing strategy remarkable

Among Pepsi’s most effective methods for promoting its products is its sponsorship of the Super Bowl halftime show. It has controlled all rights and advertising for the performance since 2012.

Why does Pepsi’s strategy work?

Pepsi has a marketing budget of millions per halftime show, purely because it knows the value of having its name associated with such a widely-viewed event—especially when it’s not competing with other sponsors for attention.

Ultimately, astronomical viewership numbers and the exclusivity of Pepsi’s sponsorship agreement boost its sales.

Pepsi marketing strategy example:

Since 2006, the numbers have consistently been above 90 million, earning Pepsi a massive amount of exposure and millions in sales. Its 2021 sponsorship, for example, gave the soda brand exposure to 91 million viewers.

5. DoorDash Marketing Strategy

Despite being in a competitive market, food delivery brand DoorDash has been steadily climbing the ranks, ending up with an impressive 48% market share.

What makes DoorDash’s marketing strategy remarkable

One of the smartest moves DoorDash has made is supporting causes that its target market cares about. This includes everything from lending its technology to food banks to supporting small, local businesses throughout COVID-19.

Why does DoorDash’s marketing strategy work?

DoorDash knows that emotion is a powerful driver of decision-making. People want to do business with people and brands that share their values. Whether the company directly promotes its philanthropic efforts or not, word gets out, brand awareness increases, and sales are likely to follow.

DoorDash marketing strategy example:

The Open For Delivery video was part of DoorDash’s 2020 campaign to support local businesses during the pandemic. It has racked up more than 114 million views and was well-received by many DoorDash fans.

DoorDash even put aside competition for the sake of this initiative, creating the #OpenForDelivery website that allows visitors to order from UberEats, Postmates, and other direct competitors.

6. HelloFresh Marketing Strategy

HelloFresh—known for its fresh, affordable, meal kit delivery service—has used various types of marketing to rise above competitors.

What makes HelloFresh’s marketing strategy remarkable

The strategies that come to mind most readily are influencer and social media marketing. However, HelloFresh has also taken an interesting and effective approach to content marketing by blogging about tech as it relates to the growth of the company.

Why does HelloFresh’s strategy work?

This content marketing plan works for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s unusual and creates curiosity since most blogs in the industry cater to consumers, sharing recipes and cooking tips.

Secondly, capitalizes on two popular topics: Tech and the HelloFresh brand, which is top-of-mind as a result of the brand’s other digital marketing efforts.

HelloFresh marketing strategy example:

HelloFresh has seen a positive response from its target audience. One example of this is the blog post Rethinking Customer Lifetime Value using Machine Learning at Hellofresh, which has amassed more than 300 claps on Medium.

7. Microsoft Marketing Strategy

Microsoft is a tech giant on a mission to “empower every person and every organization to achieve more.”

What makes Microsoft’s marketing strategy remarkable

Like many other big brands, Microsoft does a ton of advertising online and on TV. What stands out, though, is Microsoft’s product and use-case-centric approach.

Why does Microsoft’s strategy work?

Rather than hard-selling its latest tech by listing features, sharing pricing, and pointing to “buy now” CTAs, much of Microsoft’s advertising soft-sells. It simply shows quality product shots and the products being used in contexts that highlight their benefits like convenience and creativity boosts.

Microsoft marketing strategy example:

A 30-second commercial for the Surface Pro 8 with no product info or calls-to-action earned thousands of likes (and cracked 1.75 million views on YouTube in under a month). It goes to show how powerful indirect approaches to marketing can be.

8. AT&T Marketing Strategy

AT&T is the largest telecommunication company in the world. Online marketing and television advertising have been critical to its success, of course. But to achieve international fame, AT&T also leverages internal marketing.

What makes AT&T’s marketing strategy remarkable

In addition to other social responsibilities, AT&T takes seriously its duty to invest in its employees. While this is more of an indirect approach, it’s an effective marketing strategy nonetheless.

Why does AT&T’s marketing strategy work?

AT&T not only works to maintain a healthy company culture, but also creates growth opportunities for employees. The indirect result of this? Employees are more engaged, view the brand in a more positive light, and, ultimately, represent the brand well and recommend it to others.

AT&T marketing strategy example:

In 2020 alone, AT&T invested about $166 million in direct employee training and professional development programs. The company wouldn’t have such a large annual budget for these programs if they didn’t produce ROI.

9. Airbnb Marketing Strategy

Airbnb, the world’s leading travel brand, uses two types of marketing strategies like no other.

What makes Airbnb’s marketing strategy remarkable

Airbnb has a long history of hosting events—some with thousands of attendees—as part of its experiential marketing strategy. But what’s interesting is how intensely it focuses on social media marketing strategy and, specifically, how it translates in-person experiences to online ones.

Why does Airbnb’s strategy work?

Experience marketing is all about creating positive user experiences that influence consumer behavior. While not everyone can attend an in-person Airbnb event, they can enjoy similar experiences thanks to the content Airbnb shares across social media platforms—including user-generated pictures and videos.

Airbnb marketing strategy example:

The “Brought To You By” video campaign, which showcased accommodation and experiences through Airbnb available while traveling, got exceptional results on Twitter. Most noteworthy, the cost per view was 50% lower than Australian benchmarks with a 30% higher view rate.

Airbnb campaign cost per view and view rate success

10. Red Bull Marketing Strategy

Red Bull, the Austrian brand behind the line of energy drinks that promises to “give you wings,” is universally regarded as a marketing powerhouse.

What makes Red Bull’s marketing strategy remarkable

Red Bull combines sponsorship and event marketing in two interesting ways.

First, its core product is an energy drink. It only promotes high-energy activities such as extreme sports and music battles, partnering with similar brands such as GoPro.

Plus, in addition to sponsoring existing events like motocross rally’s, RedBull also creates outrageous stunts that create buzz around the brand.

Why does Red Bull’s strategy work?

Simply put, Red Bull repeatedly places its brand where potential customers—athletes, adrenaline junkies, and sports fans—can be found. And it crosses dozens of disciplines for max visibility.

Red Bull marketing strategy example:

Felix Baumgartner’s Stratosphere Jump in 2012 was watched by over half a billion people in more than 50 countries. In 2022, it still holds Guinness World Records for the most concurrent views for a live event on YouTube and largest audience for a livestream ad.

This wasn’t just a brand awareness campaign for Red Bull. In the six months to follow, Red Bull’s global sales skyrocketed by $5.2 billion.

11. Google Marketing Strategy

Google isn’t just the authority on search engine optimization (SEO). The company’s 20+ other products, such as Maps and Play Store, /.have become staples of the digital world. How?

What makes Google’s marketing strategy remarkable

Google has mastered the art of creating product ecosystems and allowing those products to drive its growth. Google Workspace—a suite of several integrated tools—is a good example of this.

Why does Google’s strategy work?

Google’s product-led marketing strategy works for at least two reasons.

One, it prioritizes product usage. The more people rely on its ecosystem, the more their collaborators and connections will want to do the same for convenience and community.

Two, Google is constantly testing and optimizing for customer experience, knowing that delighting existing customers helps with both retention and acquisition.

Google marketing strategy example:

At 61%, Google has consistently had the largest market share among leading search engine providers for more than a decade. The next closest competitor—Microsoft—only has a 26% market share, with other top providers’ popularity decreasing steadily.

12. Nike Marketing Strategy

Nike is known for its aspirational, motivational, and emotional branding, all of which have helped the retailer dominate the industry for decades.

What makes Nike’s marketing strategy remarkable

Many brands use influencer marketing and even cause-based marketing. However, the strength of Nike’s marketing strategy lies in the combination of influencer partnerships, cause-based campaigns, and authenticity.

Why does Nike’s strategy work?

Influencer marketing gets the brand’s message out and increases the perceived importance of the causes it supports. Additionally, the company’s consistent and bold follow-through on its brand purpose creates a sense of camaraderie and pride among fans.

Nike marketing strategy example:

Despite backlash from its (in)famous Colin Kaepernick ad on the heated topic of inequality, ecommerce sales increased by 31%.

Nike Colin Kaepernick ad

13. Apple Marketing Strategy

Apple has become the largest, most valuable company in the world with a valuation of $2.8 trillion. How? Not by selling computers and phones, but by creating a status symbol and community around the brand. The company does this, in part, through product placements.

What makes Apple’s marketing strategy remarkable

Apple’s marketing strategy uses a strategic, high-volume mix of visual and audio placements that show the brand in a favorable light.

Why does Apple’s strategy work?

The more its target market sees the latest products in the hands of people they like (including TV and movie characters), the more attractive its products become.

Apple marketing strategy example:

In just 74 Ted Lasso episodes, there were 704 Apple product placements. Given the popularity of these and other shows its products appear in, Apple has no doubt been able to influence the opinions and purchasing decisions of hundreds—if not thousands—of consumers.

14. Coca-Cola Marketing Strategy

Coca-Cola isn’t just a soda. With over 135 years in business, it has become one of the most well-known, beloved brands in the world. Various forms of strategic marketing have been integral to that success.

What makes Coke’s marketing strategy remarkable

Coke was among the first in modern history to embrace sponsorship marketing on a large scale. Since 1927, the company has sponsored everything from American Idol to the Olympic Games, dramatically increasing brand awareness in the process.

Why does Coke’s strategy work?

This aspect of Coke’s marketing strategy is effective because it piggybacks off of the existing reach of and buzz surrounding other large brands. That combined with Coke’s own reputation helped the brand become known worldwide and remain top-of-mind.

Coke marketing strategy example:

One campaign for the Rio Olympic Games Rio in 2016 earned Coca-Cola 500 million impressions on social media. No doubt, other metrics for this marketing campaign were equally impressive and Coke’s customer base expanded as a result.