In our new 6 part series, we will be looking at the key things to concentrate on when building a business, what to look out for and what you can do to make sure that you are above your competitors.
When building a business, there are several key factors to keep in mind. Our focus today is on Marketing and Brand Values.
The purpose of a Marketing department is to communicate to the outside world all that’s important about an organisation. That might be ethos, culture or perhaps a more product-oriented message. People talk about ‘brand values’ and this matters because when properly communicated, people will identify your values with you brand. Think of how much effort goes into getting us to think ‘value’ or ‘quality’ when you see or hear a given supermarket brand.
Think about what really matters to you in your business. Not ‘doubling profits’, ‘growing 50% this year’ or ‘beating a key competitor’ but what is it that makes you proud about your business – what do you really want to look back on in five or ten years’ time.
Avoid the temptation to rehash something that sounds appropriate. If the business leader doesn’t believe 100% then it’s unlikely anyone else will believe at all. It’s a great feeling to reflect on a business venture and feel pride in what it stood for and what it achieved.
To review where you are currently, make a clear, conscious decision on how you want to be perceived by your target market, competitors, employees, customers, suppliers and advisors. Consider how you’re currently perceived by these people.
Is there a gap? Probably. So what need to be done to bridge that gap? Doing so will pull your brand into line with where you want it be and with your business plan.
It’s important not to try to have too many messages. One or two crisp, clear messages will have far more impact than half a dozen messages – more is definitely less in this instance.
The clarity of messages that are presented outside the company is crucial. Based on your analysis of how you want to change the perception of your organisation, key messages can be established and should then be consistently presented.
This means every detail should be considered. You need to have standards for your logo(s), fonts used, sizes of fonts, colours allowed, style of writing, level of formality, etc. Every little element of communication with the outside world must be within brand guideline. It may sound pedantic but consistency builds brand strength.
Of course, the very first place we must demand adherence to brand is init all internal communication. From the top down, everyone must stick to the agreed style. It’s easy to overlook the importance of internal marketing but this is where the message should be heard loudest. Brand champions will emerge – people who live and breath the company ethos and they will be strong influencers internally.
But it’s not just managing the image
Marketing must be an integral part of the company and its plan, not operating in isolation. Some people in Marketing feel that they are responsible for creating an external image rather than for sales and company profits. But in my view, Marketing must see itself as being responsible for revenue. That includes all business areas – new business sales, client sales, services and annual maintenance and support contracts.
Tying in Marketing with the revenue-generating departments helps to make a very strong connection between Marketing funds spent and the return on that investment. It’s very easy to spend a Marketing budget but more challenging to invest it wisely.