Reaching Your Company's Potential: 8 Steps You Can No Longer Ignore
Is it just me?
I don't understand why I constantly see articles quoting marketing industry leaders as they endorse this week's bit of technology designed to help CMOs get their advertising in front hiding audiences? Wouldn't we be better served trying to understand and better react to why people are so universally bent on avoiding those ads?
As an industry, marketing folks love quick fixes even when they know it leaves them creating camel after camel (no disrespect to camels). The industry as a whole just refuses to address the real problem; with the exception of very few categories (QSRs to announce LTOs for example) people have no interest in watching ads because they see no value in them. They feel ads:
Blatantly force the brand's perspective at the expense of the consumer
Are way too often mediocre ideas, poorly executed
Rarely offer what people want most; help finding the right products and services, for them.
People would rather put their trust in the product reviews of complete strangers than hear directly from the brand.
The industry needs to accept is that we are now in a narrative economy where a brand's success will come more from the stories it tells and the passion with which its people live the brand's purpose, values and beliefs, than from its advertising.
The ad industry can, and should, harness all the technology it can muster and grind away on the data but only after it addresses the audience's core demand;
Deliver relevant, interesting and useful content worth people's time and attention.
So I ask that you suspend your tech-first "forward thinking" for the next five minutes and do a little "backward thinking," just for a balance.
Every meaningful brand story must start at the brand's center; with its purpose, values and beliefs. People care at least as much about what a brand stands for as they do about what it sells. This is not fluff. Believe them!.
Before we tell our stories to people on the outside, tell them to your people on the inside. Get every brand asset aligned toward your goal; moving internal groups that compete for power and budgets, to groups that share a spirit of cooperation and unselfishly work toward the larger rewards ahead.
If you want your company to reach its full potential, think backwards and start with the following steps. They're simple and pretty self-explanatory but they aren't easy.
If you need any help, just call.
The 8 Steps to Build a Strong & Enduring Brand Today
1. Brand Purpose -
Why you exist. Your vision along with the values and beliefs that you will never compromise, no matter the opportunity. You must define yourself with an authentic and inspiring brand purpose that will emotionally bond you with consumers and your employees.
Choose well because you must live it every day.
Driven by your purpose, this is not about jumping on the latest opportunity in the market. Trust that your "Why" will attract everyone believing in its value and that they will remain loyal to you if you keep delivering.
You have many, from your current customers, primary sales target, to influencers, partners, vendors, and your employees. For some brands we throw in Wall Street and the government.
Prioritize your effort but it's not 1985 anymore so don't ignore anyone. When they visit your site or read a blog or other social media post - make sure they feel you're speaking to them.
4. One, Unifying Company Goal
One "non-financial" goal for an extended, say 12- month period that will have a real impact on determining your ultimate (including financial) success. Let divisions, departments and individuals contribute to plans designed to achieve the goal.
This speeds better decision-making at every level: If it moves you closer to this one goal, do it. If it doesn't, don't.
The problem with multiple goals is that it's too easy to make any decision align with one of them.
Start with a process that identifies the best candidates for hire. Does the person share your values and beliefs? Do they buy into your brand story and will they live it? Then teach them to do the job.
Hiring right is so much easier than trying to change people.
Next, commit to communicating, educating and rewarding them for the company's success. Let them feel their impact and churn will be your competitors' problems, not yours.
6. Products & Pricing
Sales must be connected to Product Development. They will observe, ask, listen and help the company respond to what the market wants rather than stuff you CAN make/sell.
Lose the ego and the notion that you will, "Tell customers what they want." They're not listening anymore and your new competitor will be happy to fill the void you leave.
7. Success Metrics
Success must be measured transparently with no surprises. Using KPI's will indicate if marketing is having the expected impact.
Open sharing of information happens when people f feel safe. Screw-ups happen. Sure things don't happen every time. The organization suffers when people hide problems. Acknowledge the disappointment. Analyze it and Improve.
8. Presenting the Brand
Starting with the CEO, you build and present the brand from the inside out. No skipping steps to start advertising - remember, no one cares about the ad until they care about the brand.
Be aggressive but disciplined, advancing to the next level only when you finish the current level.
Start with aligning all internal assets and move out to sales materials, then website, web content, PR, experiential, social, digital marketing and finally, if needed, traditional advertising.
Every level sets expectations and those expectations must be met and/or exceeded as the audience moves toward the brand.
You have heard some or all of these steps before. The problem is that they are so often ignored because living them requires commitment, discipline, management's ongoing involvement.