Often times, when asking a business owner about how they market themselves, they respond, “We have a marketer.”
While the role of the marketer is a crucial one, it is unfair to expect them to behave like a superhero and assume all of the roles a successful marketing campaign often requires.
While a marketer might suggest a print piece, a commercial spot, or even a new web design, they won’t be the ones doing the actual work. And that is the way it should be.
Instead, they coordinate with a web designer, print company, or video production team to create their vision.
How is that different from contracting those jobs individually?
Sure, you could divvy out these jobs accordingly, but what does that result look like? Most likely, you will end up with three individual materials completely independent of each other.
The role of a marketing team is to make sure all of these things are working together in unison. Collectively, each member will bring his or her skill set to the creative table. Together, they will craft an overall strategy from the information provided by the marketer.
Individually, they will work on their aspects of the campaign, but with the bigger picture in mind. The videographer will have the website in mind when creating the storyboards. The web designer will have the print pieces in mind when laying out the design. And so on.
Ok, so why do I need a marketing team, then?
A campaign is not just a collection of individual pieces thrown together.
When you work with a marketing firm, they should make a calculated effort to combine all of these individual creative elements into one very strong, cohesive message. Your website, videos and print pieces should be strong independently, but even stronger as whole.
Make sure you are managing your expectations.
It is important to manage your expectations for your marketer. While they will play an important role in deciding strategy and methodology, it is unfair to also expect them to be able to execute each tactic on their own (i.e. video, print materials, design).
When your marketer and your marketing team are working together, the sky’s the limit. Having a collective of creative minds can be the difference between a mediocre campaign and one that generates results.
Summer break is upon us, and for you, leaving the business for a week may be out of the question.
So, let’s take a little vacation together over the next few minutes…from a marketing standpoint.
You may be a little hesitant to allow a firm to lead your marketing plans. But, what does it look like if you have the right team driving your marketing from start to each destination?
Here’s why marketing firms should steer your marketing:
Everyone loves to dream of travel. Taking a poll of our creative team here at Innovations Branding House, some want to go to Australia, Alaska, Austria, or anywhere where there’s a beach.
It’s the same with business goals, everyone looking toward a different destination. In your business, it’s good to dream of where you want to go. Remember, it’s ok if you’d rather take your company in a different direction than your competitor or others in the industry.
Dreaming about the future is the first step towards forming concrete goals.
Let your marketing firm in on those goals because that’s their first step in understanding what you really need.
So dream big and then work with your marketing firm to hone realistic goals for your organization.
Making the Itinerary
Once you’ve set your goals, this is when you decide what your trip will look like. Will you drive, fly, take a train? You plan out your overnight stops and any detours you want to make along the way.
You’ve calculated the mileage, set your budget and are making your goals a reality!
This is where a marketing firm takes the lead. They’ve listened to your goals and now they’re creating the best itinerary for how to get you to your destination.
They’ll start talking about strategy and the individual tactics that will best reach your audience.
Trusting the GPS
Your itinerary is set, you’ve put your destination into the GPS and now it’s time to hit the road!
As you drive, the GPS may change direction. Sometimes it’s a malfunctioning GPS. But, in most cases it’s discovered construction, a road closure or some obstacle up ahead and is rerouting you.
The original directions aren’t wrong, they just aren’t the best choice as new information comes in.
In relationship to marketing, your plan is just a guideline. As life happens, these plans may have to shift.
Throughout the entire process, your marketing team should be evaluating each step to ensure it’s still the best direction to steer your business.
*Whew!* You’ve finally made it! You’re now drinking in the ocean breeze or the breathtaking mountaintop view. But, does the fun stop there? Are you ready to get into your car and drive back where you started?
I didn’t think so.
Same with marketing. Once you’ve reached some of your goals, and your plan has succeeded, you don’t stop. This is where the real fun begins.
You begin to build on the foundation you planned and created.
You don’t pull back the momentum, but kick it up a notch.
You now focus on keeping current customers happy while starting the search for new leads.
The marketing cycle continues.
Marketing isn’t a one time destination, it’s more like a world traveler’s journey. Each stop is a milestone. Then the dreaming of what’s next can begin.
Ready to talk about how innovations can help steer your marketing in the right direction?
I went to IKEA recently and started taking pictures as I shopped…not of the merchandise, but of the messaging.
I realized walking through, this was exactly how a client should feel going to a marketing firm.
Here’s what I mean.
You go to IKEA because you want furniture that fits your needs. And as soon as you walk in, they have your entire experience planned out, down to a science.
You walk in and a sign tells you to grab a cart. I, not liking someone telling me what to do, did not. And I immediately regretted it!
They told you to grab a pencil and paper, and then they direct you onto the right path.
With that in mind, here’s how your marketing firm should be like IKEA.
They don’t just show you furniture, they help you visualize exactly what you need in the space you have to work.
Throughout the store they set up rooms of all different dimensions to show you how these products work together, not only aesthetically, but functionally.
A marketing firm should focus on helping the client see the benefit and reason for each tactic. You may come in saying you need a video.
Your marketing firm shouldn’t say, “Ok, we can do that.”
They should instead ask, “Do you know why?”
It’s possible you really do need a video. But to determine if the video is the right direction, there’s a few steps to go through first.
The firm should examine your goals, research and then show you the possibilities of what marketing done well can do for your organization.
As you walk through IKEA, they anticipate your needs. Childcare is provided for parents who just need to focus on shopping and not their child getting lost in the masses.
Half way through the building you’ll find a cafeteria. They recognize you’re probably overloaded with information and just need a physical and mental rest.
Then you can carry on and begin making your final decisions.
Even as you leave, they place a clearly visible sign acknowledging you’ve just made a big purchase. A decision that may not work out.
How do they reassure you?
By telling you it’s okay to bring a product back…with a giant heart and outstretched arms right beside it.
The entire purchasing process is laid out, guiding you through the best path for you to easily make decisions based on your personal needs.
Working with the right marketing firm you will have much the same experience.
They’ll guide you through each step in a timely manner, explaining the benefits moving forward. Their knowledge of your business and customers allow them to understand your current needs and anticipate what marketing tactics you’ll need down the road.
A New Direction:
My favorite thing… well I should say, the thing that made me buy more than I really needed, was their four-wheeled carts.
Now, this may be unintentional, but those wheels seemed to have a mind of their own, keeping me moving to aisles I didn’t know I needed to go down.
But then, I ended up buying a table and chairs for our balcony at work! The team loves it!
You’ve probably discovered finding the right direction to take your marketing can be tricky. But, a marketing team who understands your customers and your goals, won’t be finicky like those carts at IKEA.
If they do steer you in a new direction, it should be because the research has indicated it’s needed.
The Right Marketing Experience
Clearly I enjoyed my IKEA experience, but what I’m trying to get across is this: your experience with a marketing firm should feel this way.
You know marketing needs to be a part of your business, but you don’t always know where to start or where to move next.
Your firm should guide you through the marketing cycle.
The team should be creative and founded in research; steering clients in the direction that makes sense for their business.
It is that time of year when sports lovers are treated to non-stop games for 12 hour stretches, and the dreams of hundreds of college athletes and fans come to courts across the country.
Equally as exciting for the rest of the population is the opportunity to fill out a bracket and prove their prowess in predictability.
Many offices hold bracket contests as team building exercises and bragging-right opportunities. But, we, at Innovations Branding House, do not.
Most of us are not really sports people. But there are a few in the office who live for the gauntlet run that is basketball in March.
With a little convincing, we eventually all joined in and made some blind selections based on whatever criteria we deemed fit:
-whichever was easier to write
Basically, anything goes.
That led to this thought: How would your brand rank on a tournament bracket?
A lot of times, your potential customers are going to make their decision based on perception alone. They may choose, or not choose, your business after just visiting your website or scrolling through your reviews on Facebook.
While their decisions may not be well informed, that first impression really can be a deal breaker when they weigh their options.
So how do you begin to analyze a sports team by their brand? The first thing I would consider would be their identity and reputation. Does the team stand out? And why? A high academic rating would be a positive. Being known for a scandal would be a negative.
How do they look? Is their logo recognizable and synonymous with their identity? Do their colors complement their image? Universities are brands when you think about it. Their primary goal is to attract students (business) and put out the best possible product (education).
We applied this train of thought to the teams playing in the tournament, weighing heavily on brand equity as perceived by the (probably biased) members of the office.
How Does Your Brand Matchup?
A potential customer may apply the same type of analysis when they are looking for a product or service. It is important to ask yourself, “How do I stack up against my competition?”
These questions are important to consider because they will be the questions your potential customers will subconsciously ask themselves when they weigh you against your competition.
When attracting new customers, this will be all they have to go on to make their decision. And sometimes, that’s all it takes to make someone choose a 16 seed over a 1 seed.
Who Did We Choose? Our Four Finalists:
The University of Kansas: The Jayhawks took the top spot in their corner of the bracket. Their iconic “Jayhawk” logo is easily recognizable and has been their mascot since the early 1900s. Their current logo has been in use since 1946, and there is absolutely no reason to change it.
Yale University: As far as collegiate reputations go, it’s hard to top Yale. The Ivy League school founded in 1701 is instinctively referred to as one of the top schools for academics. So, you could say they have a reputation. They also have their own typeface.
Michigan State University: Their green “Sparty” logo is simple, yet dynamic. The same can be said for their official tagline “Spartans Will,” which they say “communicates our value and purpose in a common language.” They also have an entire website dedicated to the MSU brand.
University of Kentucky: The Wildcats of the Bluegrass State have a rich and successful athletic history dating back to the Civil War. And while “Kentucky Blue” isn’t an official color, it is the official blood type of their strong and loyal following, which can be seen via their many, many, many, fansites.
How far would your brand go?
Your customers are asking the same basic questions day after day.
Your employees are voicing the same complaints meeting after meeting.
Your sales figures stay close to the baseline, never going too far in either direction.
You know exactly what to expect when you go into work. Every. Single. Day.
You’re stuck in a business rut.
Playing It Safe is a Problem
Knowing exactly what’s coming next isn’t always a good thing. It makes your business too predictable.
Businesses that are too predictable don’t take risks. They’re afraid to try new things.
That type of business owners and CEOs ignore the rapidly changing world of commerce that’s going on around and past them.
Rut-ridden businesses don’t grow.
Climb Out of Your Business Rut
Stop saying “No” to new opportunities and costing your business money. Instead, take a look at the tasks you spend the most time on every day.
Then, create solutions to eliminate unproductive, rut-inducing tasks.
Are your customers asking the same 5 questions? Take the next month to focus on how you can answer those questions before they pick up the phone.
Furthermore, embrace the changing landscape that is today’s marketplace by focusing on what your customers need.
Your customers need regular validation – positive reasons that continuing to work with you is in their best interest.
So give them that validation! Regularly give your customers and clients new reasons to be delighted they do business with you.
Before you look to solve any external troubles, ensure your colleagues and employees are productive and happy. The latter heavily impacts the former.
Become a Yes (Business)Man
And oh, about that bottom line – do you have a plan for growth, or are you hoping it will magically happen?
Just showing up every day isn’t enough. Do something different!
Outline a one-year plan for your company. Then, create three and five-year plans.
Embrace the need for growth avenues like social media, advertising and marketing and know how to use them.
Finally, watch your business thrive.