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3 Things Every Business Needs to be Successful
Over the years we’ve heard a lot of must-haves. Each new marketing toy that comes out generates a buzz and all of a sudden every business is scrambling to keep up.
Because you can’t be successful if you don’t have a website. Then you forget the website because it’s all about Facebook. Then Facebook is outdated, you have to be on Instagram. You have to be on TV. No one watches TV you really need online video ads. I remember a hot sec back in the earlier 2000’s where everyone had to have a QR code. But then QR codes died almost as quickly as they came. Everyone has to have a blog. Blogging doesn’t work, you have to have video. What we see is that a lot of times, businesses are just throwing darts and seeing what sticks, trying to make as much noise as they can before the new shiny space becomes convoluted.
The secret a lot of marketers don’t want to share, is that marketing is as much an art as it is a science. There is no one cut and dry formula. There are a million amazing marketing tools out there, but at the end of the day, marketing is about telling people something or someone exists. What works for one may not work for another, and a lot of times marketing comes down to trial and error. No business wants to invest their dollars into something that won’t offer a return, so what’s the best approach to marketing when it’s all a guessing gamble?
Even as a professional marketing agency, we still faced the same challenges all businesses face. How do we market ourselves? How do we spend money before we are guaranteed to make money? What channels do we use? And we will admit, we made a few of the same rookie mistakes that many of our clients make. We threw darts. We tried some Facebook ads, we tried some LinkedIn InMails, we tried some social media. We sat down as a team and did some analysis on what needed improvement, we became our own client, and we came out with three essential principles: Brand Identity, Marketing Strategy, and Messaging.
This is where everyone needs to start. If you don’t know who you are, your clients won’t know who you are, and you won’t be able to connect. What we realized is that our identity was too convoluted and undefined, so we were attracting leads who were convoluted and undefined. When we invested time in defining our brand, defining exactly who we were, what we were really smart and good at, we started attracting ideal clients who wanted what we had.
Brand identity includes everything related to your visual and emotional presence. Yes, emotional, we’ll get back to that. There are many pieces that go into your identity, including your logo, the colors you use, the language and tone, etc. Everything you do/post/share/say needs to align with that brand. The purpose of visual branding isn’t just to look good, though that is important, it’s to make your audience feel an emotional connection. For example, compare Toyota to BMW. Both are car companies, both do similar marketing, but they evoke different emotions. Toyota makes us feel safe. Other word associations may be family friendly, practical, good value… but all essentially leading to safe. BMW on the other hand makes us feel luxury. They are a higher price point because they are promoting style, finesse, power, success. If either of these companies tried to go outside of their brand, if Toyota tried to promote a luxury SUV, or BMW tried to promote a family van, it wouldn’t go over well.
Once you have a clear footing on who you are, and you can clearly communicate that across your marketing platforms, you will attract your ideal clients because they will be looking for exactly what you are. So how do you put yourself out there for your ideal clients to find you? That leads us to essential #2.
The biggest rookie mistake that we see businesses making all the time is that they implement marketing without strategy. They throw darts, they put money into various channels and when those channels don’t yield the results they are looking for, they pull it and try another. The mindset is that budget is scarce, and they are looking to spend as cheaply as possible, so why would they spend thousands of dollars on a marketing strategy when they can spend hundreds of dollars on Facebook ads? But this is short-term thinking. Because marketing without strategy will always cost you more in the long run.
What we often see is that if you add up the various marketing channels that have been experimented with, they often don’t yield enough results to pay for themselves, and the total cost ends up being much more than a marketing plan. We also know that time is money, and each time a channel doesn’t pan out, businesses gather the team together to discuss and brainstorm and talk about why things aren’t working and what to try next. This is hours of time that could be spent doing effective marketing. If we’re sticking with the cars analogy, strategy is like the key. We all know the car is what we care about, it’s what gets us from A to B, it’s what we care about. But a car without a key is just a giant chunk of metal that doesn’t go anywhere. Marketing without strategy is just a giant heap of messaging and dollars that will never go anywhere.
Marketing Strategy starts with taking a deep dive of the brand, making sure the brand identity is all in sync, looking at what has worked and what hasn’t, looking at budget and what channels the ideal client is in to best optimize spending, it looks like creating a business plan if one doesn’t already exist, and creating a comprehensive soup to nuts marketing strategy that becomes the roadmap for all future endeavors. Once a strategy is in place, it’s time to implement and reach your clients.
When you know who you are and who you want to work with (identity) and you know where your ideal client is (strategy), you can start to speak to them directly (messaging). It’s important that all of your messaging matches your identity clearly so that you have consistency. People want to feel like they know who you are, and they want to know you won’t change the script on them.
When you are clear on who you are and what you do, you can begin to think about your ideal client and what their pain points are. From there, your messaging becomes literal answers to their pain points. For example, Toyota’s ideal customers may say “I need a car, but I want the best value.” You’ll see on Toyota’s website, they respond to this with “We’re more than great cars and trucks.” Then they feature content about safety, the community of working at Toyota, the give-back initiatives they are a part of, everything they share goes back to their brand of safety and family, and they are addressing their client’s pain points head on. For further example, watch this ad that Toyota released which further supports their message of value and community.
By comparison, BMW may see that their ideal customer’s pain point is “I want a status symbol.” So you’ll see the BMW website frequently uses the word ‘your’, ‘your BMW’, ‘your luxury vehicle’, because they are responding that they have the perfect luxury vehicle that is only for you. When you watch their ad, you’ll see how they are messaging that when you work hard, and you are powerful and tenacious and strong and successful, you deserve luxury.
Both companies are selling cars, both companies are using the same channels, but do you see how messaging sets them apart by solidifying their brand identity?
When you spend the time up front navigating your brand identity, marketing strategy, and messaging, you begin to think about business in the long-term view, which will always yield more fruitful results. At the end of the day, even if marketing was a complete guessing game, when you are responding to what someone wants or needs with the right language and emotion that expresses “I have what you’re looking for”, the channel won’t matter. The consistency and clarity that you are bringing to the table matches with your target client. You’re no longer throwing your brand out there, like shouting in a crowded marketplace “Hi! I’m here! Pay attention to me!” You’ve already found the person who is looking for you and you’re saying “Hey, let me come to you and make your life easier.” This saves time, saves dollars, and ultimately leads to the growth and success that every business is looking for. When in doubt, ask yourself if you’ve addressed the big three.