The most important job any business owner has

You know…sometimes we make things so much more complicated than they need to be.  Do you want to own or work for a company with longevity, a strong reputation and customers who are your best advertising?

Then follow this advice from The Little Blue Book of Advertising.  But I warn you…the simplicity of the advice is also what makes it so stinking difficult.

“Taking care of your brand (building it, managing it, protecting it, and yes, if necessary, reviving it) is the single most important job you’ve got. Whether you’re the president of the company, the EVP of marketing, or the newest employee in the advertising agency’s design department.

Your brand will last longer than any of your jobs. It’s even likely to last longer than your company. So taking care of your brand is also a smart career move–if you take care of your brand, it’ll take care of you. No one ever made the cover of Forbes magazine by getting a raise. But the covers and pages of the business press are filled with people who championed a great brand.

What’s the easiest way to take care of your brand? Take care of your customer. Know who she is. What he wants. How she uses–and thinks about–your product, service, brand.

It’s that simple. And that hard.”

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Why do the hard work of building a brand?

Let’s assume the following is true:

All pretty good reasons for creating a brand. But building a brand is hard work.  It’s expensive, in terms of time, focus and even money. It requires the attention of your entire company — from the part-time janitor to the CEO and everyone in between.

Is it worth it?

Check out this post over at the Brand Establishment.  They make a pretty compelling argument that along with the benefits I listed above…a brand’s ROI includes:

  • Increased customer loyalty
  • Minimized negative effects of a crisis
  • Better marketing and co-branding partners

I’m not saying it will be easy to build a brand.  But, when done right — it’s a game changer.   And that should be worth the effort and the risk.

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Why your brand is dead in the water

Here’s how most brand evolve.  The organization’s leadership huddles up at a corporate retreat (or if it’s a start-up, around the kitchen table) and decide on a tagline and maybe a logo.

The tagline becomes the battle cry of the brand and they’re off to the races.

Or worse yet…the organization hires an agency who claims to “do branding” and after a little deliberation, the ads have the new tagline and logo and voila, the brand is launched.

Fast forward 6 months or maybe a year.  The tagline and the brand are limping along.  No one really uses them anymore.  And if they do, they think of it as the “theme of the month” and assume it will just go away over time.  And it does.

There are many reasons why a brand fails….but the biggest one in my opinion is that the employees are not properly engaged and connected to the brand.  Without a huge investment of time, energy and some money — the brand remains a superficial cloak that can easily be pulled off or shrugged off when it gets to be a challenge.

Your employees are the key to a brand’s long term success.  It’s that simple.

When we are asked to develop a brand for a client, we require the step we have dubbed “seeding the brand” which is the whole idea of introducing the brand promise to the employees and letting them take ownership of it — deciding how to deliver the promise, how to remove the barriers to keeping the promise and how to keep the brand alive inside the organization.

If a client won’t agree to implementing that stage of the process, we won’t do their brand work.  No ifs, ands or buts. Why? Because it won’t work without that step. And I don’t believe we should take their money if we can’t deliver success.

Discovering and then building a brand takes a village.  And you have to start by including your own villagers.

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Any brand can become talkable

Are you talkable?

On this blog, we often explore the importance of brand and the power of word of mouth. It seems that many business owners/leaders believe that you can just plan on something being spread by word of mouth and voila, it happens. (Sort of like planning for a video to go viral).

The reality is — to become a brand that is worthy of being talked about is hard work.

It’s about being very purposeful in every little detail of your business.

That’s why I love this video series by John Moore from Brand Autopsy.  John’s listed a bunch of attributes (29 to date) of a talkable brand — like believable, measurable, and emotional to mention a few.  And he’s done a video for each “able” that makes your brand talkable.

The videos are part education, part entertainment and part inspiration.  I think you’ll enjoy the short (less than 4 minutes each) offerings.

Check out the series (click here) and then come back and tell me which of the “ables” you think your business has already mastered.

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Hello? Is there a human inside?

Honestly — haven’t you felt that way more than once when you’ve dealt with a business?

Either their marketing materials are so full of corporate speak that you can’t figure out what the heck they’re talking about or the service you get is lackluster at best and that’s being kind.

As consumers continue to get more jaded coupled with the fact that every business has plenty of competition out there — what consumers want and need from us is to know that we’re human.  They don’t expect perfection.  They just want to know that you’re real, that you care and that you’re not blowing smoke up their skirt.  That’s how they are going to choose.  They’re going to pick the company they like the best and they can’t like you if you are invisible to them.

So the question becomes — how do you show your human side?  How do you give your customers and prospects a sense of who you are and what matters to you?  If you and your brand are playful — how do you reveal that?  If you have a deep passion for what you do, where does that show up?

I don’t think too many businesses ask themselves those kinds of questions.  But we need to.  We need to actually make a connection long before the cash register rings.  Depending on your business — you might be able to do that in a one-to-one way.  But for most organizations, that won’t cover it.  They need to find a mass produced way of being real.

Yup — a mass produced way of being real.  How?

Here are two great examples.  One is the note from the company CEO that comes inside every package of Cold-EEZE.  The second is a grocery bag from Capital Market. (Hat tip to Tom Narak for sharing the grocery bag photo with me)

 

Can’t you just hear their voices?  Can’t you feel their spirit and don’t you have a sense of what it would be like to interact with them?  I don’t know about you, but I want go to that grocery store.  I’d expect to be completely delighted by the experience.

I can hear you now.  “But Drew, those are consumer products.  In the B-to-B world, we can’t do things like that.”  I call bull on that.  Yes, you can.  Every company has a spirit.  We can call it your brand or your true north or your core reason for being.  But it’s there.  And it’s your job, no… your responsibility to show it to us.

All of us, every consumer on the planet, desperately wants to know if there’s a human inside.

Show us.

 

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What can content marketing do for your business?

Content marketing.  It seems like everyone’s talking about it. But what exactly is it and what can it do for your business?

Odds are, if you’re doing any marketing at all — you’re at least accidentally dabbling in content marketing.

First — it goes by many names.  Some people call it custom publishing or branded content.  Other people slap the label of social or digital marketing on.  And all of those names are accurate.

Content marketing is a broad term for any marketing technique that creates and distributes valuable, helpful and relevant information that demonstrates that you know your stuff.  These tactics draw the attention of people who are already your customers or could be your customers and they consume, share, and value the content.

The ultimate goal of content marketing is to create a sense of trust and comfort that will lead to someone making an initial purchase, making an additional purchase or referring you to someone who’s ready to make a purchase.

There are other benefits as well.  It’s a powerful way to establish yourself as an expert, to shorten the sales cycle, to impact SEO results and depending on your business – to educate, entertain, and inspire your audience.

I found an infographic from Visual.ly that I think does an excellent job of not only demonstrating many of the different possibilities when it comes to content marketing — but also gives you a sense of which tactics deliver what outcomes.

Check it out! (click here to download larger version)

Browse more data visualizations.

With all those possibilities — are you confident that you’re doing all that you can to harness the potential and the power of content marketing?

Are you doing some things that you could be doing better?  More often?  More intentionally?

I want to challenge you a little — are you really leveraging this marketing strategy to the extent that you should?  If not…why not?

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