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How 5 Marketing Strategists Stay Focused as Their Jobs Transform
The marketing community is experiencing a big shift. Now more than ever before, we rely on data to guide our spend allocation, messaging, and creative strategies. We’ve evolved our teams from cost centers to ROI engines within our companies. And as marketing takes a new shape, so does the concept of brand management.
Thanks to analytics software, social media, digital ad platforms, and content marketing tools, we have infinite resources at our disposal. The big question in front of us, however, is how to connect these disparate dots into an engine that delights, inspires, and engages our audiences.
What we need is a meeting of the minds—which is why we’ve asked five marketing leaders to share core brand management principles. The guidance below will keep marketers focused on what’s important as their jobs continue to transform.
1. Focus on providing value above all else
Tip nominated by: Chad Halvorson, CEO and Founder of When I Work
Today’s buyers are self-directed and research driven. In addition to researching your brand, they’re also evaluating your competitors. Your company’s greatest asset, above any marketing message or campaign, is how consistently you deliver your brand promise to stakeholders.
“The best thing you can possibly do in terms of brand management is focus on providing value above all else,” says Halvorson.
“If you can focus on providing value—by building great products and services, by creating a stellar customer support team, by actively engaging with prospects and customers (even the unhappy ones) on social media, and by convincing people that you actually care about them—you can build a company and brand that people will rave about.”
Following these tips, Halvorson and his team have grown When I Work from a bootstrapped, three-employee startup to a nationally recognized company with more than 50 full-time employees and a customer base of 9,000 small businesses.
The company’s secret was no secret at all—it was empathy. Identifying with its customers allows the organization to reliably fulfill its brand promise.
2. Live and breathe what you’re marketing
Tip nominated by: Connor MacNeil, co-founder of Jump Suit Group
A brand is more than a marketing campaign, visual identity, or story. It’s something that touches all facets of your organization, down to the smallest details—the packaging you use, the lobby at your headquarters, your teleconferencing system, and even the pens you keep in the supply closet.
“You must eat, sleep, and live your brand before you can expect any employees or customers to follow suit,” explains MacNeil.
MacNeil encourages marketers to be real about who you are, instead of how you want to be perceived.
“A brand is not a color scheme, logo, or font,” says MacNeil. “It’s a lifestyle that must be voluntarily embraced.”
3. Prioritize the subtleties…
Tip nominated by: Emily Elliott, content and marketing manager at The Square Foot
At its heart, brand management is a relationship-building mechanism. You’re still forging one-to-one bonds, but the process is more efficient because you maximize the number of people that you’re reaching with every message.
When it comes to communication, remember that the subtleties count.
“That’s why it’s so important to clearly define your brand’s voice, personality, and visual identity to create a story around your brand,” says Elliot. “Make your brand something that people understand, respond to, cling to, and find interesting.”
Take the time to create an organization-wide style guide that defines these elements upfront. That way, you can prioritize the subtleties without the pressure of chasing them down—your teams will be aligned to a common marketing mission and vision.
4. …But outsmart your perfectionist instincts
Tip nominated by: Angie Weber, operations manager at Tenacious Edge
When you launch a content strategy, video campaign, resource center, or branding initiative, you probably want everything to be perfect. While the small details matter, however, they shouldn’t hold you back from expressing your value, passion, and personality.
“So many marketers, especially when it comes to content, feel like they have to make things perfect,” says Weber. “They over-analyze each period and comma, for instance.”
Weber encourages marketers to look past their perfectionist instincts to prioritize the bigger picture. In other words, focus on being true to your brand.
“One technique that we suggest is for employees to write out the 10 words or phrases that they use in everyday conversation about their business,” says Weber. “This way, they are more confident about their word choices, product positioning, and messaging.”
You can always hire a copyeditor to smooth out typos and grammatical flaws.
5. Build a team of awesome people
Tip nominated by: Daniel Bliley, director of marketing for Passport
Brands emerge from a range of small and large interactions, and are the end-result of many moving associations (informed by your campaigns, tweets, posts, and more) converging into one cohesive identity.
It can be a challenge to manage these many moving parts—and when you micro-manage communication, you’ll squash the heart and soul behind your messaging.
One way to circumvent the challenge of being off-brand is to hire people who live and breathe the values that your brand represents.
“Your brand is closely tied to how people interact with and feel about you,” says Bliley. “This is most amplified in the interaction consumers have with people in the company. Positive and consistent interactions create and strengthen brand propositions while negative interactions can unravel the integrity of a brand. Rallying your workforce around your values helps ensure that from top to bottom, the brand is in solid shape.”
As a marketer, you have seemingly infinite options for tools, strategies, and techniques at your disposal. Success, however, won’t come from the grand gestures—it’s the micro-decisions that count. Build an awesome brand by embodying who you are. The rest (automation, metrics, mechanics etc) will fall into place.