Have you ever stopped to ask what it is that could be holding your brand back from being at the top of its game? Has your brand become boring or maybe you just don’t stand out from your competitors anymore? Here are some questions to ponder, as well as some simple tips for putting your brand’s best foot forward and improving your image, along with your marketing success.

When someone comes to your website or social media, what are you hoping they do and how do you want them to feel?

The answer to this should go farther then just saying that you want them to contact you or purchase your product or service. Yes of course you want to attract new business. However, when you look deeper into this question, don’t you want to try and turn a stranger into, at the very least, an acquaintance? Someone that you can continue to get to know and ultimately engage with at a level far beyond, ‘just a customer’. Lets face it, most customers just are not that loyal. They usually buy things because they have a need or even a want, but not a burning desire to have what it is that you are selling. Consequently, they don’t rant to their friends about how great their experience was or a product is.

It is important to transcend the typical relationship and deliver something of value, satisfying a need deeper than simply a product or service.

So how can you take your customers to that next level and make them feel differently about you? Give them something of value and remember value is not something we tell people that we offer, it is something people feel because we have connected and served their needs on a deeper level.

What types of marketing programs have you tried, which do you feel are most successful and which could do better?

How do you currently measure the success of your marketing initiatives? Marketers can discuss the benefits of their trade and you will, no doubt, be bombarded with facts, statistics, and examples that clearly demonstrate how successful each discipline can be. The catch is, ask them to quantify that success, and the answers aren’t always as cut and dried as we would like. Keep in mind sustainable success rarely comes overnight, regardless of your marketing initiative of choice. More than likely, any gains will be the result of a slow, steady climb in the influence, visibility, credibility, and cult following of the brand that you have nurtured.

The most important thing is to identify, from the start of your marketing initiatives, what metric should be sought for each approach. Every metric from likes, views, emails opened, tweets retweeted, wall posts shared and, yes, to products and services sold, can then be merged together into a chronicle of how well the initiative is performing.

It is now the age of influencer marketing, seeking out and harnessing the power of key players is integral in the development of brand trust.

Have you thought about including an influencer-marketing program in your mix? This approach is all about harnessing the power of influential people to spread brand awareness and build trust. It is definitely still a new approach for many marketers, despite some numbers showing that influencer marketing is 16 times more effective than traditional marketing, yet it hasn’t become part of the mainstream. This new method of trust-centric marketing is being embraced by brands and businesses that are willing to venture outside the box and those risks are paying off. After all, we are now operating in the age of influence. Considering brand advocates are generating over 500 billion impressions about products and services per year according to Forrester, furthermore according to Nielsen, 92 percent of people say they trust word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising. What are you waiting for?

How does your marketing team work with your sales team?

It is not an easy task to encourage marketing and sales to communicate not only more but better, let alone see eye-to-eye and truly collaborate on a plan. Devoting time and attention to achieving this goal is far more than just a nice “to do”, it is absolutely imperative, and can be a major competitive advantage for your company, since so few businesses get it right. You have probably heard things like this before, “Marketing spends its time producing brochures that no-one wants!”, “Sales never follow up on the leads we generate for them”, “Marketing never gives us any quality leads that are worth following up on.” It’s a never-ending cycle.

Marketing and sales have to work together if there is to be any meaningful progress made.

Think about how your sales and marketing teams can work better together, so that they each understand what the customer really wants and needs. Provide thought leadership and content that engages prospects and then convert the opportunities that are generated. For years we depended on marketing to create demand generating campaigns; customers would respond and sales would follow up to hopefully convert the opportunity into a sale. This makes a huge assumption that customers buy in this linear fashion. But do they? Do you know how your customers really buy? Much of this depends on the level of complexity of their buying decision and many decisions are becoming more and more complex. In order to maximize the effectiveness of lead generation and conversion, marketing’s role cannot stop when the customer first responds. Leads need to be nurtured, customers need to be persuaded and sales teams need to be supported.

In order to maximize the effectiveness of lead generation and conversion, marketing’s role cannot stop when the customer first responds.

Our marketing campaigns need to be a continuing dialogue between the brand and customer with the content being customized towards the customer’s behaviours, wants and needs. When the first sale is converted, the retention and advocacy program needs to start. Think about how you can continue to support the customer by providing helpful guidance on using the product or service, insight into future industry developments and have a quick support system available when they have a question. Turn customers into brand advocates and cult followers by providing them with access to continuing support and thought leadership. They will value your communications and share them with their peers.

 Turn customers into brand advocates and cult followers by providing them with access to continuing support and thought leadership.

Customers are always searching. Throughout the buying process, a customer will continue to search and hunt for information, from product reviews to price comparisons. Also, make sure that you are influencing the search along the way with both paid media and influencer marketing. Your sales team and front line employees can provide specific feedback on what customers say they want, what their objections are and what competitors are doing. Listen to them. But also make sure you learn through listening on social media and analyzing web behaviours too. Always try to be a step ahead of customers so that you can anticipate what they might be looking for before they even know it.

What type of internal marketing do you do in order to make sure that your employees are fully onboard with why your brand exists?

There are numerous benefits when Human Resources and Marketing work together, including: more effective execution, higher productivity, improved customer service and innovation. So why is it that the majority of us still continue to work in silos? Talent continues to be the top concern amongst CEOs and internal branding is fast becoming a critical strategy to address current and future talent shortages. With less than 20% of organizations having an internal branding strategy and only 30% of companies with teams of two or more departments responsible for managing the brand, there is a big opportunity for Marketing and HR leaders to collaborate on this important issue.

The results of HR and Marketing working together are substantial, a strong internal culture is the first step to developing a strong external one.

It is shocking that HR and Marketing don’t collaborate more often; after all they do have a lot in common. Both are focused on influencing, inspiring and motivating people. In marketing, the concept is to create a value proposition that best satisfies the needs and wants of their target audience, and it is aligned with the strategic objectives of the organization and brand. When we approach employees with this same type of aligned brand value proposition, it results in a positive return in terms of improved engagement metrics, reduced attrition, lower employee acquisition costs, better customer service and improved productivity.

Companies do not wait years for customer feedback about their products. In many ways, the employee requires just as much attention as the revenue-generating customer. To provide this level of attention, it is crucial that an employer go directly to its workforce and listen to its employees, and do so on a regular basis to identify value and brand misalignments.

It is crucial that an employer go directly to its workforce and listen to its employees.

Extensive research has shown that only about half of the workforce in America is actively engaged and that employee dissatisfaction is on the rise, particularly in the first year of employment. Seeking feedback from employees about their wants and needs may be the most sincere indication of management interest and concern. Consistently listening to employees and measuring their preferences will promote employee satisfaction and help manage rising benefit costs, creating the classic win-win relationship for employees, employers and ultimately your customers who will receive better service as a result.

So take heed and stop doing what you have always done. Stop the boredom and create a cult brand following by shaking things up a bit and getting your customers to take notice.

Sources:

  • EBI “Rise of Employer Brand Research”, Lynda Gratton Hot Spots Movement
  • Blu Ivy Group – Why Marketing and HR need to work together on the employer branding strategy