Most companies that have technology as their focus usually (not always) lack a sense of what marketing or a brand is. A logo and a website gives them a badge of authenticity – job done. As simple as this sounds, start-ups will certainly run with this scenario. Even worse they think that if they spontaneously produce a leaflet or brochure – it will lead to something that will get the people to use their technology or product. I
They are often disappointed, but why?
One case I know of, actually believed that their technology product was so great – that people would flock to use it. A classic mistake that software developers or engineers make – is that they think they are selling to the converted (developers) so they use geeky language in their marketing pitch – which is of course designed by a limited approach in their thinking. The mindset is in ‘that head space’ so its difficult to articulate other messages than their brain is comfortable with. A software developer is a builder and his mindset is about building more software, not how he or she takes it to market. An accountant will always talk about saving money – not spending it. Unfortunately, we all are to some extent products of our own limitations as well as our aspirations.
The issue is that they they don’t have the marketing expertise in the first place and that is usually provided by the designer or website people who have no interest other than producing a logo or a website design and getting paid for it. You know the one – with bells and whistles? It might cost a lot of money and it sure looks good, but does it compliment a co-ordinated attack to the right people in the right way?
Here is just 3 examples of what brand marketing is not;
A PR or Advertising firm will get us publicity.
Social media will get us the attention we need.
Videos will do the trick, we just need to show our wonderful technology or product.
Why – will become apparent.
The focus on the product and what it does is not good enough when you are dealing with people, whats more if you are talking to the wrong people with the wrong message, you are screwed. Some news media will tell you that all publicity is good publicity – they are wrong. Ratners the jewellers were testament to that throwaway piece of bad advice. (the Managing Director said he thought his own products were junk).
The customer decides whether your business succeeds or dies, so we need to start our brand marketing campaign with the customer, and if you haven’t identified him or her – you are going to waste a lot of money finding out. You might say well we already know our customers, and my question would be, what proof do you have? And, are they the best type of customer? Successful Brand Marketing identifies the customers and finds out what drives them in the first place. Once you know that then you can devise a campaign that will target them and only them.
There is another ingredient that is essential in business, that of adapting quickly to responding clients. This is not about “the customer is always king ” as the marketing books will suggest, but more about why he is king in the first place. Why did he or she respond in a particular way? What can we learn by their responses?
Many successful businesses learn that responding quickly and sometimes radically they may soon be selling a different type of service or product. This is why business plans set in stone don’t work.
We make too many assumptions about customer habits.
Simple question, who buys mens under-pance? In 90% of cases its the mother, or the girlfriend or spouse. This should alert you to the fact that we shouldn’t make too many assumptions about customer behaviour. Business people that think on their feet and make decisions which adaptive led are the successful ones.
We need to understand customer profiles to find out what they are really looking for – this is brand marketing. It is called psychographic profiling in marketing jargon – but it essentially means know your customer, what motivates him or her to get out of bed in the morning. It involves behavioural insights. When do they respond, how do they respond, why do they respond the way they do.
Now we have a starting point – that we can have a campaign to start with. How do we move from user to loyal user??
Believe it or not when you start a business, you have a strategy by default and accompanying that strategy is a brand which encompasses all of your communications. In whatever way you reach out to your customer, by phone, by talking, by communicating. How you engage with your customers is a communication strategy.
If a business isn’t 100% sure of who is best customer is (he, she might have not met them yet). Then it needs to find out or plan to find out who that best customer is. Is it someone, anyone with disposable income or someone who might be a loyal customer who comes back?
The first option can be termed a scatter gun approach, where you throw out your net wide and hope to pick up anyone or the second approach is to create loyal followers – they are usually very discerning people – or certainly they know what they are looking for.
You should always be conscious that you building a business and building a clientele. The reason this is important is that the more information you have about your customers profiles and preferences the more value you have in your business. This means that if you come to sell it, its value is recorded. All of the sales and customer relationship details are the assets of the company. If you don’t have these details then your business is worth nothing.
Brand Equity represents the building blocks of your companies standing in the market place and it has a value that you should be conscious of all of the time. If your employees or partners diverge from your brand communications you need to wary that the value of your brand and your company could be compromised.