Branding Priorities

We get it: everyone is busy. We’re all wearing multiple hats and essentially pulling cross-divisional shifts to keep the marketing train rolling. The good news is that the train is rolling. Marketing has more budget, respect, and responsibilities than ever before. The bad news is that too many times the brand is getting lost and forgotten at the station. Ultimately, the long-term value of the brand will suffer. Being a good brand steward is the single most important thing marketers can do that delivers significant value. And it’s the one thing that marketers seem to barely have time for.

Ridiculous Scope

Brian Hansford at Heinz Marketing created an excellent list of responsibilities that current CMOs are too often, possibly even typically, charged with in this LinkedIn article: The Ridiculous Scope of B2B Marketing Responsibilities. He lists 29 things, readily admits that there are likely more, and he’s probably right.

And that’s just the start of the problem. While all of them might be necessary, they all shouldn’t carry equal weight or priority within the department. To compound matters, brand strategy is hard, takes time to implement and even more time to deliver results. Studies show that when humans have to make a decision on where to put their time, they predictably choose the activity that is determined to be the most urgent. Not the most valuable. Not the most important. We choose the urgent one we can get done most expediently and check off our list.

Getting on Track Means Putting the Brand Out Front

It’s understood that clearly aligning your brand purpose with your company and creating a brand strategy is hard work. It takes time—time that marketing technology was supposed to give back to marketers but doesn’t seem to have delivered in the quantity expected. Saying that marketers need to be more disciplined in their time is a cop-out. What marketers need to do is start at the beginning and keep the main thing the main thing: the brand. When evaluating new messages, think brand before execution. When looking to reach new audiences, think brand before platforms. If it doesn’t fit with the brand, it doesn’t go forward. It’s that simple. You can start by cutting one non-essential SasS (Software as a Service) or social platform from your current list. That’s how your resource expenditures will compound the value of your brand and contribute to the overall worth, not end up as a cost on the CFO’s floor.

The following was an excerpt from a post originally posted on the Wilson Advertising blog,  Brand First … Right After I Do This Other Thing. You can read it in it’s entirety there.

Marketers Got Their Technology, But the C-Suite Still Has Questions

Marketing technology haven't answered all of the questions

Marketing drives revenue. Everyone knows that intrinsically. Just try going without it. The question from the c-suite has always been “how much?” quickly followed by “prove it.” That’s what MAPS promised to provide. Marketers bought them in, implemented the software, and sold their capabilities upstairs. They got the ear of the executives, if not a seat at the table, so to speak. Now it’s time to deliver, and unfortunately, the results are not as clear as everyone expected.

Brian Hansford of Heinz Marketing and Joe Chernov of InsightSquared presented a joint survey and report that the two companies did together. They polled marketing and sales professionals using five of the most common marketing automation platforms, and found an interesting divide based on the experience of the marketer and three key takeaways we found especially interesting.

This is an excerpt of the post, Is It Still Love, originally posted on the Wilson Advertising blog.

Just What I Needed …

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Consumer Habits are Shifting Ahead of Industries

It’s been apparent that the middle is not where retailers want to be for some time. However, led by changing demographics and economics, industries that were built on high-end continuous consumption and upgrades are in for a shock as well. Where previous consumers could be relied on to search for the latest and greatest, new consumers are more willing to settle for a product that meets their needs, does the job, but doesn’t break the bank. And the fact is, new manufacturing techniques and design knowledge mean that products in the middle or even the lower end are pretty darn good. They might not feature the latest technology, but they will reliable do what is asked of them. One sector likely to be be hit the hardest is outdoor gear and it will have profound affects on the passionate group of manufacturers. Here are just a few examples:

Cycling – For years bike manufacturers have been dedicated to performance and technology. Enthusiast have lined up to get the next greatest thing. Cutting weight, finding the right balance of strength, comfort and performance have been the holy grail. It came at a price, and a high one at that. Modern entry level and mid-range bikes are very competent, and may be all that many cyclist will ever need for years.

Golfing – For years golfers have believed that a new driver, putter or ball will magically cut their strokes and lower their scores. Golf manufacturers have been happy to oblige with continuous upgrades in every facet of the game. But as new audiences fail to hit the links, and interest wains, manufacturers won’t be able to play it where it lies. They’ll have to make adjustments.

Archery – While a bow and arrow is often considered primitive, the modern compound bow is anything but. Each year bow manufacturer continually try to improve the performance of their bows with faster speeds, higher let-offs, and smoother releases. Many of the high-end bows were sensitive to adjustments and required special tuning to get the max performance. Now bows are available off the rack that shoot nearly as well as top flight models just a few years ago, at a lower price, and without the setup work.

Fishing – The right tool for the job necessitates that many serious fisherman carried multiple rods and reels to match different situation. Modern reels and rods have improved in their reliability and ability to handle multiple situations. As the technology works down to the lower-priced outfits, many anglers are able to do more with less.

Return of the Middle? Not Quite

Don’t believe that this is a return to the middle. Hardly. While new audiences, millenials specifically, might be satisfied with a “good enough” product, they also care about experiences. That’s part of what drives these purchase decisions. For example, they want a bike to create an experience, but the experience is the important part. The bike has to function and perform, but it is not the focus.

Because they crave experiences, they love stories. Brands that have a story, create a great buying experience, and enable the buyer to better create their own stories, will win with these new evolving audiences.

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Centralized Data and Customer Engagement

CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT, HUMAN INTELLIGENCE, AND DATA: COHABITATING FOR A BETTER FUTURE

The disconnect has to end. For the sake of your business and kids, end it already. For years, marketing was lucky to be just one part of the overall customer relationship: the initial phase. The data that was created in this phase and anything that happened afterward was moved to the business side of the house and stayed there. It was like an uncomfortable housemate situation, where, despite many common interests, not much was said or shared between marketing and business. Meanwhile, marketing would meet new customers. The problem was that many of them weren’t being met for the first time-they were existing customers. Business would stay mum. The two never talked. And nothing moved forward with their data and information sharing. Read the complete post, originally published here: http://www.wilsonadv.com/2018/03/centralized-data-customer-engagement/

Why a Roadmap is Critical for Customer Engagement Optimization

In an era of “push a button, take me there,” where AAA state maps and TripTiks have been replaced by Garmin® and Google™, and probably half of the population wouldn’t even try to actually read a map (much less fold one), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that large percentages of the population have no idea where the hell they are at any given moment. And that’s a loss. You can read the complete post here: Maps vs Buttons.

Great Brands Rise Again

IN AN ERA OF CASHING OUT, RESILIENT COMPANIES CAN STILL CASH IN FOR THE LONG HAUL

Great brands can live forever. We’ve been saying that for years. With all of the attention on startup companies, the desire to scale quickly, and the surprising number of brands on various lists that didn’t even exist 15 years ago, it’s probably easy to dismiss. After all, forever is a mighty long time. It’s so abstract that it’s difficult to comprehend. And can a brand really keep growing forever? Read the complete original post here: http://www.wilsonadv.com/2018/02/great-brands-rise-again/

Activating the Biggest Advocates—Alumni

Who loves their alma mater more than the alumni? Nobody. Would the firsthand experience of graduates at various life-points after graduation be valuable to prospective students and their parents? You’d think so. Would it be valuable to enhance the volume of communications from the school? Absolutely. That’s what makes advocate marketing such an appealing idea for higher education.

Ohio University - So depart that daily thou mayest better serve they fellowmen thy country and thou God.

What is Advocate Marketing

Influitive, a software company,  defines Advocate marketing (or advocacy marketing) as a formalized system for making customers happy, and then capitalizing on that happiness to achieve your business’ goals. It’s more authentic than traditional marketing because it’s powered by real human connections.  Working together, the organizations work with willing and happy advocates to spread their message to others in the audience. The organization offers advocates assistance and multiple options and tools to reach out, then recognizes them in a variety of fun and meaningful ways. The effect is part gamification, part peer recognition, creating a sense of belonging that advocates crave.  While Influitive’s focus has been specifically on the B2B space, the opportunities and benefits of applying this idea to an alumni-base are intriguing.

Prospective Students and Families

Instead of students interacting with a faceless university, advocate marketing could put the friendly face of experience in front of their communications. Matching students with advocates with similar interests and backgrounds can help to solidify the decision for both students and parents. Being able to ask questions and get answers firsthand from those that have been in the same position would prove invaluable in the college decision process.

Alumni and Current Students

Finding new ways to be involved with their university is something many graduates and current students strive for. Rather than just financial contributions, advocate marketing enables them to share their expertise and knowledge. Being able to participate in a meaningful way to tell both their story and that of their alma mater would be win-win. Throw in recognition for the school, as well as helping to make a difference in other’s decision and it’s a can’t lose proposition.

The University

Having an engaged alumni base and a strong corp of incoming students is the foundation for any Universities success. A university advocate can greatly expand the size of the audience that the university can meaningfully communicate. More engaged alumni give more and participate more. Setting that example and communicating it to incoming students sets the precedent that they too could become part of the future success of their school.

The Personal Connections

In an era of personalized everything, advocate marketing represents opportunities for more engagement from alumni with the university and prospective students with both alumni and the university, forming bonds that will lead to increased engagement. More than a community, giving advocates the tools to build stronger bonds cements the relationships between all of the parties involved. 

How do you interact with your alma mater? Would you be interested and participate in an advocate program if it was offered?

 

How Social Influencers Can Reach and Draw Hidden Audiences

Influencer marketing done well can be a powerful tool, effectively scaling targeted messages to levels that could only be dreamed of decades ago. According to a study by RhythmOne, “destination and tourism brands’ earned media value is $12.50 for every $1 spent” on influencer marketing.

So how do you do it well and achieve a similar return on your investment? The key is to define success upfront, then create a strategy and plan of action.

The is excerpt taken from Wilson Advertising, Influencer Marketing for Destinations, was first published on Dec. 6, 2017.