Tag: marketing strategy
Originally published 2013
A colleague of mine and I were recently having “shop talk” over the weekend, discussing various marketing campaigns that we’ve developed over the past few years. The conversation eventually turned to the concept of branding. We compared products that have a brand, those that don’t, attributes of a brand, etc. As the dialogue became more and more abstract, my colleague finally said, “I mean, how are you supposed to explain to clients what makes a brand, when I have trouble explaining to myself?” (more…)
Ad agencies love to tell clients that they take a unique approach to marketing strategy. Some even give their marketing process a proprietary name like Brandgineering™, Creativention™, Marketologimization™ or something similar. Usually, there’s a fancy flow chart that goes with it. It all started at big global ad agencies and eventually worked its way down here to Mississippi several years ago.
Why do agencies do this? Here’s why: They want you to believe that their approach is somehow fundamentally different. That they use science, not magic. And that if you follow their process from Point A to Point Z, you will ultimately end up with a marketing strategy that cannot fail.
Not to say there aren’t differences in the ways agencies approach marketing strategy. There are. But, in our opinion, factors like insight, experience and imagination are a heck of a lot more important to marketing than the process, itself. Processes don’t buy products. Customers don’t drool over bullet-pointed lists in their favorite magazine. And people don’t become fans of procedural flowcharts on Facebook. (Well, not normal people, anyway.)
Here’s our approach: We listen and we think.
We sit down with clients, talk to them and get their perspective. We listen to their thoughts about their company, competitors, market situation, opportunities, challenges, what’s been tried, what’s worked and what hasn’t.
Next, we think. We do our homework. We uncover hidden insights and market opportunities. And we examine the strengths and weaknesses of each option before making our recommendations.
The fact is, there’s no magic formula because marketing strategy is a creative process.
Think about it: A great marketing strategy should do more than just connect the dots between what you already know. It should challenge you think of your business in new and unique ways.
What is a brand? It’s one of the most common questions we hear. But perhaps a better question would be this: What isn’t a brand?
The concept of a brand is, after all, often misunderstood. By the generally accepted definition, a brand represents the sum of all the emotional and psychological connections customers and other stakeholders have with your company and its products. Many people think that a brand is the same thing as a logo. But it isn’t. A company’s logo is a symbol of the brand – or it least it should be if it’s doing its job. Likewise, a company’s name, its ad campaigns, its corporate headquarters, and so on aren’t the brand, either.
The brand is something intangible, but powerful. It’s how people – real people, not just your target audience – feel about your company or product on an emotional level. It’s the promise that the leading brand of corn is going to taste better than the generic. Or the reputation a small hardware chain has for providing more helpful service than its big box competitors.
How does an agency like Maris, West & Baker fit into the picture? Very simply, we help companies understand and communicate their brand values and brand personality. We start with a brand strategy session to get a better understanding of your business, your products or services, your culture and your competition. Then we distill that information into a simplified form meant to focus and streamline brand messaging. Simplicity is the key, by the way: You can’t expect people to have a brand connection with your company that’s based on your superior service quality, vast knowledge, innovative products, unbeatable value, blah, blah and blah. Keep it simple.
Next, we recommend appropriate channels for communicating your brand. Depending on your needs, this process might involve developing a product or company name, logo, ad campaign, PR strategy, environmental design and the like. But, whatever marketing products are ultimately chosen, the important thing is staying true to your brand story. Both in the way you market your company or product. And in the way you operate your company, too. (That second part is very important. While hypocritical branding always fails sooner or later, a great brand strategy can help guide a company’s business decisions in ways that strengthen its customer relationships.)
Whether you’re starting up a new company, launching a new product, or just looking to strengthen your existing brand strategy, it pays to get the branding right. Call us if you’d like to know more about how we can help.