As we head into a new year, it is time to take stock of the brand marketing activities that we have been engaged in through out this year and evaluate the effectiveness of our brand strategy and execution.
We have to start with the age-old question – have we reached into our customer’s worldview this year? As stated earlier in of my previous articles, your customer’s worldview is essentially a combination of their life styles, life experiences, expectations and desires. Everyone has a worldview. It is how we look at and interact with the world. It is how we behave and impact the world around us.
Our brand strategy, our brand messaging, our brand marketing, and our marketing campaigns should all be aligned to this worldview. Most entrepreneurs confuse their worldview with that of their customers and target audience. In some cases, these two may be and the same. But in most case, it is different. Depending on the motivation for why you started our company and brand, your likes and dislikes and your philosophies may be completely opposite to those of your target market. If you had started the brand primarily to fill a market gap – with a meaningful brand mission and make some quick money, then your worldview may be completely opposite to that of your customers.
Understand Your Target Audience
To effectively align with your customer’s world view, it is essential to understand who your target audience is. Understanding your target market thoroughly is still the single most critical thing a business owner could do to help their brand on the road to success. Most often than not, small business owners think that they know who their target market but in most cases, the net is so wide that they struggle to achieve success.
Defining your niche from your customer’s perspective will help you profile your buyers and identifying your ideal customers. Once you know who your ideal customer is, you can then focus your time, effort and money to target them surgically.
Take Dollar Shave Club, for example. When this mail-order razors-and-blades company launched its advertising in 2012, the mission was clear: target men who don’t really care about name brands and are sick of paying ridiculous prices for razors and give them a convenient and inexpensive subscription-based alternative….and let them feel cool buying it. Lo and behold, men responded, and the brand became a community of people who refer friends to Dollar Shave Club at a rate of 50,000 a month and actively engage with the brand’s other 3.7 million-plus Facebook followers.
Is your brand top of mind?
Top-of-mind awareness is defined in Marketing Metrics as “The first brand that comes to mind when a customer is asked an unprompted question about a category. The percentage of customers for whom a given brand is top of mind can be measured.”
Analyze your target market to see if your brand is top of mind. You can quickly gauge your brand’s effectiveness by reviewing your 2018 growth of engaged social followers and site visitors, checking in on your organic reach, and typing your brand name into Google Trends. If your results are disappointing, then you need to figure out how to keep your brand fresh in your audience’s minds. Perhaps your social media campaigns are not doing their job to build brand awareness properly. Perhaps the message is not clear enough. Perhaps the brand story is not being communicated.
Are you investing in any paid advertising such as Google Adwords or Facebook adverts? Are you doing any re-marketing (which is still super relevant, by the way)? These could help boost brand awareness.
Do you have a publicity strategy?
Publicity can also be defined as the art of gaining public visibility or awareness for a product, service or your company via the media. A publicity strategy is the strategic management function that helps an organization communicate, establish and maintain communication with the public.
Make sure you define your publicity goals for the new year. Compare these with the previous year’s goals to see what has changed. Then generate story ideas to create brand awareness. Check to see if there are any automation tools that will make your publicity campaigns easier to manage and more efficient.
Are your sales materials ready for the new year?
Your brand’s sales materials – such as the website, company brochures, presentations etc – are tools to move your customers forwarding the sales process. Each item has a specific role to play in the overall sales funnel and they should be created to fulfill that role in the most effective way possible. Sales materials that are not effective could end up losing your sales and customers.
How is your website doing? Is it unto date and fresh for the new year? Does the website design look stale and dated? Is your website fast and furious? Are you keeping the business blog fresh with content? The single most important update you can make to your website for 2019 is to ensure that it’s not only mobile-friendly but specifically optimized for mobile reading. Without a less-than-one-second load speed, easy-to-read text size and font, and intuitive navigation, users will click off your site without hesitation.
More and more consumers are expecting ultra-personalization and instant response on websites, so adding chatbots and other artificial intelligence elements to your website in 2019 will help you deliver that experience and stay ahead of the curve.
If you have a corporate brochure, evaluate its effectiveness. Is the message on the punt? Is the brochure design aligning with your brand message and the rest of your branding? Do you have an eco-friendly electronic version?
How are your social media channels doing? Are they all branded well? Are you depending too much on automating positing on these channels or are you sending time and effort to make them personal with lots of engagement?
Are you constantly creating white papers and ebooks to educate your target audience and further establish yourself as the subject matter expert? Long-form high-quality content is going to dominate in 2019; one 2000-word post a week takes the same effort as five 400-word posts and will be a bigger bang for your buck. Are you capturing email addresses when offering these free and valuable resources and sending relevant, non-spammy content to your new contacts?
Is your company or business profile unto date and powerful? Have you skimped on this crucial piece of sales materials and got it designed by your nephew out of high school or worse yet, crowdsourced it?
Are you actively promoting your business website?
Search engines are a great way to get new business, but they’re not the only game in town. There are a lot of other ways to attract interested customers, which is fortunate for businesses that don’t have a good search engine ranking.
Are you looking at promoting your website in directories? Most people think that the days of directories are over and that is mostly true. However, there are still some valuable directories, especially those with a local focus and high domain authority, that would get your traffic and leads.
You should also not neglect local marketing including making sure your Google My Business profiles are complete, accurate, seeded with Q&As, and open to reviews and that your location is optimised on Google maps and Bing maps.
Did you run any contests this year that drove traffic to your website? Contests are a great way to generate quality traffic to your website and you should make that a priority in the new year.
What about videos and podcasting? If you have been creating this type of content this year, then great! If not, now is the time to start working on these media content for the new year. Here are 10 great ideas to promote your website.
It’s almost 2019, and people are still talking about Domino’s #PieceOfThePieContest on Instagram, which prompted the brand’s superfans to simply follow @Dominos and post a photo that demonstrated their level of super fandom for a chance to win $10,000. The post introducing the contest has been viewed more than 25,000 times, and 1,034 contestants have posted pics of everything from a Dominos-themed baby’s room to a Christmas tree decorated with the Dominos logo.
How is your brand visual imagery?
When business owners look at their brand visual imagery, they usually perceive the obvious elements such as their logo design, stationery design and perhaps a few other elements such as their social media channels and their website all of which simply have their logo slapped onto them. But it goes deeper than that.
Remember earlier this year when the pancake chain IHOP shocked the world by announcing they were changing their name to IHOb (flagrantly flipping the “P” in the logo) to focus on their burger offerings. Although it was only an extremely successful marketing stunt, it shows that people can really care about and become loyal to your logo and brand.
However, in the new year, it pays to evaluate how your brand identity is doing. Does your logo design need an update or refresh? How long have you had your current logo design? Does your brand mark still align with your brand values and message? Do you understand the real cost of a logo design?
How is your corporate identity doing? Is it consistent? How are you using your corporate colors and typography? Is it professional? How about your stationery design? Are your business cards an asset to your business? Are they creating the right kind of impression?
If you feel that you might be a bit too biased to judge your own brand, consider gathering a small focus group or consulting a professional agency to gauge your current identity and ensure it’s not dated, bland, or just plain unattractive.
Hope this little primer on brand marketing tips for the new year helps you get started. Start with a brand audit and then decide on what needs to be done.
Pay attention to your branding. Spending time, effort and money on sales campaigns with out looking at fundamentals would lead to an opportunity cost. If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to reach out to me.