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The Role Resources Play in Brand Strategy

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There are many elements to consider that affect branding: customers, value propositions, customer service, ability to execute, etc.

One of the areas that people often neglect to think about, at least from a branding perspective, is their resources.

Simply put, your brand’s resources are the people, processes, and systems in place that help you produce your product or service, and execute your goal. These might include things like:

  • anyone on your team that interacts with customers
  • people who are responsible for designing and making products
  • equipment like tools, equipment, vehicles, manufacturing equipment
  • automated systems such as emails, phone systems, answering services, and live chat

Exploding Phone Batteries

An example I love to use (and my team is sick of hearing) is Samsung. Specifically, Samsung phones that a while back starting catching on fire, causing terrible damage to property and injury to people.

This scenario raises two important questions:

  • Does this affect Samsung’s brand?
  • What marketing and advertising campaign fixes this situation?

The first question is obvious: yes of course this affects the Samsung brand. One of the foundations of a brand is the trust it builds and fosters with its customers. But why would anyone trust a spontaneously combusting phone?

With that in mind, it might seem pragmatic to regain the customer’s trust. However, what witty headline, beautiful photograph, or expertly produced video will do that? Marketing, advertising, and design serve to communicate the brand’s promise, or value proposition. A promise, by definition, must be truthful, or its a lie. Therefore, any ad campaign touting the benefits of a Samsung phone is a lie, so long as they continue to catch fire.

The answer to the second question: there is none. At least not yet.

The Source of the Problem

Samsung has a brand problem, but it’s not one that’s solved with advertising and marketing. Rather, the root of the problem is a resource, specifically one in design engineering and manufacturing. Not until the resources are fixed and the problem solved and marketing and advertising begin the arduous task of regaining the customer’s trust. But now, they won’t be spinning a lie.

Resources are the Backbone of Reputation – and a Company

How can this relate to smaller, non-global companies? Let’s say you own a restaurant. You might have great food, an inviting atmosphere, ad reasonable prices. However, you have a server that is routinely rude, gets orders wrong, and all around creates a negative experience for people.

Of course you’ll fire them, but will that happen before the damage is already done? My dad is fond of saying, “people might not say anything if you do a good job, but they’ll stop strangers on the sidewalk to warn them if you screw them over”. Indeed, some of the most motivated online reviewers are often people upset over a faulty product or bad service.

It’s critical to get your resources right, because they are directly responsible for the execution of your brand’s goal (product or service) and the experience customer’s will have with your brand.

With that said, if/when a customer has negative experience (or you receive a negative review), this is an opportunity to demonstrate publically your commitment to make it right. Listen, empathize, admit fault if (and only) indeed there is some, and offer a remedy to the situation.

Get Your Resources Right

Make sure you hire the right people.

This is the most important. After all, these are the folks you’ll depend on to make your product, or execute your service. Everything starts here.

Understand what motivates your employees.

Once you’ve hired the right people, tools like DISC and Myers Briggs assessments can help identify personality traits. Regular communication with your team will help you understand how to better manage and lead your people.

Clearly communicate your goals.

Are your people happy and fulfilled with their job roles? If not, can they be coached, or should they be replaced? Is there something going on outside of their work life that’s affecting work?

Constantly build your bench.

Identify and work with strategic partners that can help you in times when you face capacity shortages or lack the capability to execute. Invest in continuous education programs, whether through online training like SkillShare or in-person classes.

Invest in the tools and equipment people need to be successful.

Your customer won’t care if its the tool’s fault if something didn’t work right – that’s your problem. Reliable, quality equipment makes for more successful employees, and leaves no room for excuses.

Build automations and standard operating procedures.

Well defined, easy to follow systems make it easier for people to make the right decisions when faced with unknown situation. They make it easier to train and onboard new people, which allows people in your organization to be flexible and perform multiple duties. All of this helps make your business more scalable, and ultimately will help you build enterprise value when it comes time to sell (but that’s a topic for another day).

Bring it All Together

The savvy business owner knows that resources are a critical component to the success of their organization, and will invest time, money, and effort to ensure the right resources are in place and tended to frequently.

 

Creating homeostasis for your marketing ecosystem

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I want you to think about the marketing channels you employ as an ecosystem.

I know that sounds cliche.

That’s because it probably is, but trust me, it’s helpful.

As is the case with any ecosystem (probably, I’m a marketer not a scientist), a vast amount of parts interconnect and rely on one another to create a complex infrastructure. When everything is working together properly, you reach homeostasis. When there’s something missing or something isn’t working properly, you have a problem. Everything will just be out of whack and when one marketing channel isn’t performing properly, others will suffer, too.

You end up grasping at straws. Looking for quick fixes. The ever elusive “silver bullet”.

Other than a can of Coors Light, the silver bullet doesn’t exist. Trust me, I wish it did.

There’s no shortage of people who will sell you on solutions.

Email marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, inbound marketing, outbound marketing, influencer marketing, account based marketing, marketing automation, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, direct mail, conversational marketing, guerrilla marketing, geofencing, retargeting, Facebook ads, Twitter Ads, LinkedIn Ads, native ads, all the ads, all the marketing.

They offer straws for you to grasp at. They will pitch their solution as if it’s a silver bullet. They’re obviously trying to selling you something, and if you’re anything like me, you can’t help but occasionally wonder if this could be the thing that works for your business.

Maybe this one thing could be the straw you needed.

Maybe they’re selling copy writing for the perfect Facebook Ad, or an incredible email marketing tool that delivers incredible ROI. Some have a livechat integration for your website that’s guaranteed to turn you into conversational marketing experts. Others have the SEO experience or tool that’s going to boost your rankings to success. Sometimes you’re not even sure what they’re trying to sell you because it’s just so chock full of marketing speak and industry jargon, that you just assume it might be great.

I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is it’s likely that most of these solutions could work. The bad news is that any number of these solutions could work. And any number of these channels should be working for you.

If this doesn’t seem ultra clear, that’s okay.

Most companies that sell marketing solutions are really good at marketing their solutions, because, well, they’re marketers.

As is the case with most businesses, becoming successful usually means finding one or two things you do really well and focusing on those. It’s no different for companies that sell marketing solutions. And they know you’ve got a budget, so they want to be a part of that budget. If that means pushing out another effective marketing channel in order to make room for themselves, you can bet the farm they’ll do it — even if that’s not in your best interest.

The reality is this: theres only one thing you need to be sold on and that’s a marketing strategy. And maybe “sold on” isn’t the right way to put it. The only thing you need to work on identifying is a marketing strategy. If that includes working with an agency partner, great. If you can figure it out internally, also great. The fact is that everything else is filling in the proper tools and channels.

Anyone who tries to sell you on one channel vs. another channel is a liar. They don’t care about growing your business, they care about selling their product.

I recently read an ad for SMS Text marketing. They used cherry picked metrics to “show” how much more effective text marketing was compared to email. And sure, a 98% open rate seems more effective than 22% for email (those were the exact metrics they used). But how many of those texts turned into a purchase? What were they even selling? Would it work for MY business? Those are some of the many questions you should be asking.

Shouldn’t you be doing both if both would work for your business? Of course. Would both work for your business? I don’t know — and neither does the vendor selling you on text marketing. If you can’t answer that question yourself, you should employ someone to help you figure that out — someone who isn’t selling you a product, but a strategy. Then make sure everything is working together — cohesively. This is homeostasis for your marketing ecosystem.

Consistency is key when it comes to social media marketing

Social media marketing

There are too many articles and blog posts about how to master social media marketing. Countless gurus and experts that have a ton of advice for you – and a social media marketing package to sell you to go along with that advice. Their advice is intentionally vague and make social media marketing out to be this difficult to master marketing channel that’s ultra complicated. Sometimes I wish people would stop writing about it. But instead, I’m adding to the pile.  Continue Reading»

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