It’s all over the street – nobody really knows what you do there at ABC Co. It’s not like your customers or potential customers are spreading bad news about you, it’s more the fact that they’re not saying anything at all. There is no buzz. Everybody knows you but for some reason that’s not translating into tangible business. You appear to be doing everything right on the ground. But are you really?
From my experience dealing with SME’s (small to medium enterprises), a common misconception about marketing is that have to list everything that they do on their business cards, brochures and marketing materials in general. “Ed,” they tell me, “if I don’t say – it I don’t do it!” Maybe you’re saying too much. They seem to feel that an overall strategy is less important than a great eye-popping graphics. Manufacturers give more space on their marketing materials to pictures of their plants and group shots of the entire staff. Retailers are preoccupied with getting that price as low as possible and pretending to have great service while remaining closed on days popular with customers. Service businesses are more concerned with their convenience than their customers by relying entirely on email for connections.
The common problem is not that you may be known physically, but you’re unknown intellectually. Your customers can’t identify you with a need they have for your products or services. They’re confused. It’s a common communication/branding problem. The few example above point directly to:
1) No positioning strategy. Your audience “is never everyone” it’s always a segment. It’s the segment that brings the most cash your way. Inevitably if you list everything, you’re bound to forget one thing. In the customers mind, since you do list everything, then you must be telling them that if it’s not listed – you don’t do it. A simple but uncompromising rule. It’s much better to chose the service or category that brings you the highest opportunity and separates you from your competition. This will position you as the leader or the go to company.
2) Lack of communication. Everyone loves those super graphics that are so cool in marketing. The viral video. Anything that will catch the eyes and minds of the viewer. The problem is that while cool, they communicate nothing. Their goal is quantity over quality. Who cares if hoards of people look at you, if they don’t translate into business for you. If you don’t have a consistent strong ongoing compelling message to tell, what is your brand really saying about your business? You are ultimately responsible for what your brand is saying – make it count.
3) Authenticity. You’ve seen it I’m sure; businesses bragging how service is the key to their brand and they make you wait on hold for 20 minutes. They open when it’s convenient to them and they connect entirely by email because it wouldn’t be convenient to drive all the way over to see you. Their entire brand is a contradiction. These are companies that don’t live up to their brand values.
To brand effectively you must say it, believe it and live it. Branding is all about controlling your perception on the street. You have the opportunity to define yourself, drop the ball and the marketplace will not be kind. Once the rumour mill takes over, you will spend more time correcting and following, than doing what makes you income and moves you forward.