As a B2B and B2C integrated marketer with a proven track record when it comes to successfully creating brand identities and selecting the right communications channels that accelerate growth, I firmly believe every company has a tremendous storytelling opportunity.
Communicating a compelling story, both internally and externally, begins by identifying long-term business goals at the enterprise level and then defining the right, purpose-driven integrated marketing campaign for products and services. Analyzed market research fuels productive whiteboard strategy sessions, resulting in bucket lists of tactical deliverables. The above scenario no doubt sounds familiar to a large number of marketing professionals; however, a growing percentage of marketers, recently surveyed, do not take the time or expense to facilitate a research initiative.
Make no mistake, market research is not simply a part of the process, it is the process. And, it’s no secret that qualitative and quantitative research from internal stakeholders and external influencers offers valuable insight into such things as market conditions, entry barriers, opportunities and key competitors. The carefully analyzed feedback, no matter how simple or complex the research project, moves an enterprise from a hopeful “we think” to a confident “we know” market-ready position – from hypothesis to a growth-enabled reality.
Once you know where you’re going, it’s time to determine how you will get there. At our agency, we leverage a methodology that serves as a step-by-step tactical blueprint for engagement. Collectively, the three-part holistic process looks something like this: Internal Housekeeping, Market Activation and Continuous Improvement.
When a company activates an external marketing campaign, no matter the communications channel, existing clients and prospects have a responsibility to their own company to carefully vet vendors. Today, the first stop on the vetting train is the vendor’s website. It is at this juncture when it becomes incredibly important the organization (vendor) quickly capture the appeal of a well-polished, highly professional operation – driven by visualization, navigation and content. Giving the buyer a peace-of-mind the seller can deliver at a high level. It’s a delicate balance between ego and confidence. If you don’t look and act like a market leader, or at least compete on the same level with regards to the marketing assets and messaging, the steps to closing a deal will be a lot steeper, even if the product or service presented is superior. Below are a few baseline initiatives to ensure the company house is in order.
Brand Identity. Brand creation begins by developing a deep understanding of the company, customers, industry partners and competitors. This understanding helps to develop visuals and a brand position (a complete “toolkit” for collateral) that can be used as a guidepost for all brand-marketing initiatives. Marketers should work to assess the landscape from which the brand exists and then develop a way for the brand to have a relevant, purposeful presence – one that not only motivates customers to buy, but also converts them to advocates. The result is brand continuity across the enterprise that establishes confidence and trust.
Website. It is a company’s #1 Marketing Asset and #1 Salesperson. Is it decoration or is it content-driven, results-oriented guided by user experience?
Video Production. High-impact, dynamic corporate video production is important to not only telling the story, but, more importantly, showing the passion behind the story. In the right market spaces, as an example, we counsel clients to consider visual storytelling through a series of whiteboard animations — puts into motion features and benefits.
Internal Communications. Empower the human asset by building heroic internal branding campaigns with key messages/talking points to rally the troops. It’s important that everyone is on the same page with the company’s direction
Our tactical marketing blueprint is a step-by-step executable that leverages matured delivery channels (traditional and digital) to position a company’s expertise. We recommend an integrated approach to building brand awareness and activating targeted engagement by leveraging owned media, earned media and paid media.
Owned Media. Company-developed blogs, social media posts, landing pages, case studies, white papers and email marketing campaigns that is disseminated through company-owned assets, redirecting viewers back to the company’s website.
Earned Media. Media relations has long been the tool used by public relations practitioners to manage the image of a company, product or person. Here is where the magic happens of crafting story ideas and pitches to editors for staff written articles or identifying opportunities to get self-produced bylined articles placed in targeted publications. Securing editorial placement showcases subject matter expertise and provides brand validation, while also serving up content in which to push through inbound marketing campaigns.
Paid Media. To seasoned professionals, it’s obvious that advertising creative connects with key decision makers. There are industries where print ads and video embeds in digital editions are still the preferred method to build brand awareness, and often used strategically in building media partnerships.
The philosophy of any professional athlete, there’s always better. As the behavior expected of marketing professionals, we need the open mindset to quickly evaluate and respond to the market: competitors in the news, lead conversions, key messages, etc. In today’s digitally connected world, we should be prepared to respond to what motivates key decisions, real-time.