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Social Media AND Marketing

“Better to have 1,000 loves than 1,000,000 likes”

A group of women are holding up signs, looking like a demonstration group.
Two men are holding one finger on their forehead, looking like an unicorn.

Using their courage, wit, and serious intentions to make the world a better place, the founders of Einhorn have been capturing everyone’s hearts. Other condom brands may sell more rubbers, but none have as many fans as Einhorn. You can learn a great deal from this Berlin-based condom company when it comes to brand marketing and using social media. 

When Philip Siefer and Waldemar Zeiler started, they were both still wearing their blue shirts and talking on camera about what they wanted to do with their start-up: sell condoms that are produced in a fair and conscious way. Sustainable. Eco. Vegan. Social business. And so on. Then, they watched back that video. The video that was going to be used to launch their crowdfunding campaign. And they realised: nope. That’s not it. So, that’s when they put on unicorn costumes and started inflating condoms with their noses. And it all started from there.

To be honest, things have been going so well for Einhorn since then that condoms are now just one branch of the company. There is now a second product range: period products, i.e. sanitary towels, panty liners, tampons, menstrual cups. Just like their condoms, these are all produced in a fair and sustainable way. Sexy? Nope. But totally successful, because they’ve done a great job with marketing. And all without a big advertising budget or posters at bus stops. 

 
Colourful packaging with different graphics. Inside the packaging are condoms.

Siefer and Zeiler are constantly asked: “How do you actually do it?”, “How does good marketing work today?”, “Do you have to be as crazy as the Einhorn team?” Giving answers to these questions is now part of the Einhorn business. 

To start with: no, you don’t have to be totally crazy. But you do have to take risks. That’s what Zeiler and Siefer talk about at conventions and in coaching sessions. One of their first lectures was called ‘Unfuck the economy’. They invited their audience to swap places with them for a week – and the first company to take part was the Ottakringer Brewery in Vienna, Austria. For one week, Matthias Ortner took over the condom company in Berlin and Phillip Siefer ran Ottakringer.

“Since then, the brewery has been a bit like my godchild,” says Siefer. “There are also certain similarities between beer and condoms. We both find ourselves with a convenience product that everyone needs and consumes, but in a saturated market. The difference is that people really like to buy beer, but don’t really like buying condoms.” What else? Well, the 36-year-old thinks that the beer industry is a bit old and slow.

 
In conversation with Phillip Siefer:  Honestly speaking, what do brewers urgently need to learn in terms of marketing? 

To rethink the whole subject. You can’t rely on an agency that says: “Ah, beer! We’ll work with yellow and white. And bubbles. They represent freshness. Oh, and nature! Water, mountains. Very important.” That kind of branding and marketing is not what you need today. Those kinds of fake stories are out of date. It’s irrelevant whether the beer in the advert is being drunk on a ship, on the beach, or in the forest. These are meaningless pictures and empty slogans. I don’t feel anything. Nothing at all.

Is classic advertising dead?

First of all, it’s nonsense. You spend money on photos or adverts of your beer bottles in front of an isolated lake, then you spend even more for advertising space in the newspaper or for seconds of broadcasting time. In the end though, people don’t learn anything about your brand. All the good stories about the people who make this beer – none of that comes across. You spend all that money and don’t create any added value. 

What creates added value?

When you approach someone on equal terms and say: I’ll tell you something exciting about us. About our values and our culture. 

And about our beer too, of course.

No, it’s actually about what you do beyond that. Good beer is a prerequisite; that’s not a story. You can’t use it to set yourself apart from the competition. In our Einhorn communications, it’s also not relevant that the condom is also good. Sure, we make a good product. Who wants to make bad products? But the interesting thing is: what else do we do?

So, even a special beer wouldn’t be something that you think would make a brand stand out? With a heading like: Traditional brewery launches craft edition...

Craft beer can be made. I think that’s really nice, but it’s not decisive. Ottakringer does it, but they don’t have to. Their beer is just the way it is: great. But there is still room for improvement in marketing for many breweries. They would need to change their brands and make them more accessible. The goal is for new customers, as well as people who already know the brand, to enjoy it more. 

OK, how do you do that specifically then?

It’s a lot of work. It’s like this: You can’t make something really awesome without putting a lot of work into it. And that’s the biggest mistake companies make. They say: “We’re going to make a great brand, relaunch, new design, everything will be great” – but then nobody actually works on the brand, says the boss. That won’t work!

So, you should hire a professional for modern marketing?

A professional? When you’re putting together your brand, you have to involve the people! We have 20 people at Einhorn, and four of them are responsible for design and brand. So, if 180 people work at a brewery and three of them do marketing, ask yourself: how strong can their marketing be? 

Which channels are the most important in contemporary marketing? Snapchat or the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper? A local newspaper, Instagram, or TV broadcasting on ZDF?

(Shaking his head) I wouldn’t separate the media channels like that. From your audience’s point of view, there isn’t a difference between Facebook, Bild newspaper and the RTL broadcasting group. For them, it doesn’t matter which channel the communications come from. That can be an advantage.

How so?

If you are a brewer and you do something really cool and people are interested, then you can become your own medium. If your story is so good that people tell it to others, if it’s sharable content and not just stupid advertising, it will spread without appearing on TV or being reported on in the Bild newspaper. People have all their own media, namely their news feeds with posts from the accounts they follow on Instagram, Facebook, and so on. 

So, the trick is to gain access to their filter bubble?

To the human heart. It works if you provide content that is useful to people. The message “Drink our beer. It’s delicious!” is useless. That’s a sponsored post you have to pay for. For nothing. Like having paid for fans.

So, advertising on Facebook and Instagram doesn’t work?

No, because it’s not about quantity. We call it “1,000 loves instead of 1,000,000 likes”. You want people to really feel connected to you. 

What kind of stories can achieve that?

It’s really enjoyable for your followers to know a lot about you. So, tell them about yourself, your co-workers. Identifying with the people behind a brand is much stronger than identifying with a glass of beer in front of a landscape. Beer adverts with an island and nature... for me, those are symbolic of old advertising. With that – maybe – you get the audience craving a beer, but by no means are they specifically craving a Krombacher. 

 


Phillip Siefer's Feedback on Social Media Channels:

Twitter: We don’t really understand it. The way I see it, there are only journalists and trolls on there. And politicians. Maybe one or two satirists as well. Overall, it’s not a very important channel for us. Facebook: Our largest tribe of Einhorn fans are on there, but we still don’t like this channel. Everything disappears into a black cloud on there. The audience is very broad. We mainly do jokes, GIFs and classic ads on Facebook. We don’t post things like “we have a new product” anywhere else.  Ah, and it has another positive: feedback. You get a lot of feedback. 

Instagram: Our replacement for Snapchat. We produce short videos for Insta-stories, always spontaneously and just using a mobile phone in front of a face. There is no release plan. For picture posts though, we do curate them. They show what our world at Einhorn looks like. We write about positive and nice things. That is important: be positive and nice! 

Snapchat: Last year it was full of hype, now that’s completely deflated. In Germany, it’s used more as a messenger app and less as a community. So, we let it go and said that we’re now going to do

Insta-stories. The people moved across with us – it’s really amazing. This shows that there is no social media loyalty. People always just go to the biggest medium. 

YouTube: This is something for longer videos that are professionally produced. No quick mobile phone shoots. 

Blog: Here, we post longer texts that we write ourselves. In these posts, we talk about the people behind the brand. When we go to visit the producer of our latex in Malaysia, we write about it here.

Xing and LinkedIn: Waldemar discovered rather recently that this is a very good channel. Oh here, we write business articles that fit with the target group, and they get shared extremely often.

Podcasts: A mega medium! It’s totally easy to make a good podcast – you just need a very good mic and some recording equipment. You can get that for €500. Uploading to Spotify and iTunes is easy. But, the question of whether people listen to it comes down to how relevant the content is. 

Crowdfunding: So. Much. Work. You really shouldn’t underestimate this. You might think that a crowdfunding video is quick to shoot. But: you can’t make something really awesome without putting a lot of work into it. We worked on ours for three or four months – that’s just how it is.