Fuel For Your Marketing Efforts
Your business needs every advantage it can get, not just in rough economic periods, but in all times. However, these needs become more pronounced when, like today, there are fewer buyers and no-less competitors. That’s where your distinctive brand can step up and separate your company and products from the rest – resulting in maximum sales from marketing expenditures – yes, even in bad times.
I know, I’ve heard the advertisers who say “Brand development is just too much of a luxury right now, I need sales.” Well, where do sales come from? I think, from businesses and consumers, who can choose your offering from a herd of very similar appearing competitors. And when many of them are shouting: “Buy our products – no, buy our products – or yelling ‘half off’ – buy our products ‘Red Tag’ sale – buy our products…the buyers perceive that all brands must be alike. So, they conclude, “ I’ll take the least expensive.” At this point, your product or brand has just achieved “Commodity” status – price is now the only measurement of value.
According to a McKinsey Quarterly article, “Financially sound companies should lift investment to gain strategic advantage over its competitors.” The article goes on to include promotion as an effective policy and it also suggested that companies with weaker financial health must focus on generating more revenue from existing sales; price premium. Indeed, the key driver of economics is sales. It should be noted, however, that none of this advice will generate more sales or profits without first creating a unique distinction for your company and its products. Without this separation from the pack, you are simply increasing your investment (marketing and promotion) for the entire category.
Creating that distinction is not the hocus-pocus, voodoo or secret solution that only global brands achieve. Smaller advertisers must not be inhibited from getting going. First of all, brand development is not branding. Brand development is the discovery of a company’s unique evidence of distinction and the creation of a memorable way in which to communicate it. Branding, then, is the tactical application of that distinction in all communications materials for both internal and external execution. And here’s the good news: once that distinctive message is developed, the whole marketing process will be streamlined and as a result, be more economical – no recreating the wheel every time a new ad or promotion is needed. And, because you have created your distinction, price premium follows.
No, brand development is not just for the Coke’s, Apple’s and GM’s of the world. All retailers, manufacturers, professional services organizations, even non-profits need to distinguish themselves from all competitors or they will pay more for marketing and get less in return.
Now, skeptics will say “yes but, I still need to be price competitive.” And I say yes you do. However, a well-established brand can offer its products on sale and it will appear to be a unique and rare opportunity, rather than just another commodity. After all, how many of you wait for the Nordstom semi-annual sale? Admit it – consumers see it as an opportunity, not a red flag that the company is having a rough time.
So what’s the fuel needed for your marketing efforts? I think it is developing your brand so that it represents your unique product or service as more than just another product or service in its category.