Over the Christmas holiday, I took some time off to see my family in Atlanta. While I was there, I treated my dad to a day at the new World of Coca-Cola at Pemberton Place in Centennial Olympic Park. Having grown up in Atlanta, the headquarters of Coca-Cola, I’ve always preferred Coke over Pepsi. And after spending about two hours on the self-guided tour, I can say that I have a new admiration for the brand – a true marketing machine.
Although my favorite part of the tour was the 4-D theater, I really enjoying learning about the history of the brand and how Coca-Cola became a universal name through its marketing and advertising efforts. While Coca-Cola is a great product (with its secret formula) that can sell itself, it was the company’s marketing efforts that really helped drive sales in the beginning.
Coca-Cola is a consumer brand, but there are several B2B marketing lessons that can be taken from the soft drink giant:
1. Use word-of-mouth marketing. It is often the best, most credible way to get the message about your product/service out to the public. Because “cola” was a new word when it was created, the makers of Coca-Cola had to educate the public. Initially, thousands of free drink coupons were distributed to help introduce the concept and spread the word.
2. Choose the right go-to-market strategy. For several years after it was created, Coca-Cola sold for just $.05 per bottle so that the average person could afford to try it. As a new concept, the beverage had to be priced right. Once the popularity and demand of the product increased, so did the price.
3. Select the right partners, distribution channel. To become a national player, Coca-Cola knew that it had to increase production and distribution. To do so, Coca-Cola partnered with independent Coca-Cola bottling companies around the world. Additionally, Coca-Cola realized early on that what it did best was to create the recipe and market the drink. Therefore, they left the majority of bottling up to licensed Coca-Cola bottlers.
4. Get some publicity with the right crowd. From Norman Rockwell paintings to a slew of celebrities, Coca-Cola has appeared almost everywhere. From the beginning, Frank Robinson, the bookkeeper turned marketing genius, was the main proponent for advertising at Coca-Cola. He had the idea to put the Coca-Cola logo on everyday items. By doing so, the brand quickly became a household name, and the promotional product industry has never been the same. (You can see a bottle of Coke placed at the bottom of the lady’s dress and on the table in the upper right portion of the painting.)
5. Integrate your message. As you can see in these pictures, all of the Coca-Cola branding is integrated. The Coca-Cola script logo, originally penned by bookkeeper Frank Robinson, has helped make the brand unique and stand out from other beverages. That script is internationally known and has appeared on countless promotional materials and advertisements.
Have you been to the new World of Coca-Cola? If so, what was your favorite part? If not, I definitely recommend checking it out the next time you are in Atlanta.