This is from an article by Ike Krieger & Andrew Sokol featured in the LA Times Sunday Magazine
Q: My marketing budget has been cut, but my need for results keeps increasing. How can I create marketing that gives me the greatest return on my investment?
A: Whether you own your own small business; are the marketing decision maker for a mid-size business; are a sales professional; or are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company; maximizing the return on every marketing dollar you spend should be among your highest priorities.
When your budget is cut, or the economy shrinks, that priority becomes even more critical. It sounds like both of those situations exist for you right now.
According to international business consultants Andrew Sokol and Ike Krieger, the solution lies in a new approach to your marketing and sales strategy. Based on over 60 years of combined experience in marketing, branding, and sales, Sokol and Krieger have developed what they call Contrary Marketing™. Here are their recommendations.
Stop what you’re doing! At least, for a moment. Why? Because you need to step back and ask yourself the most important question in business which is: “On what are you basing your business decisions?”
When we ask most business owners and manager that question, they usually respond with a long pause, a blank stare, and a shrug of the shoulders. That’s because most businesses are doing what we call “Backward Marketing.” It’s the most common marketing mistake in business, and it’s the most damaging.
“Backward Marketing” describes the process of implementing marketing tactics before there is a Brand Strategy to base them on.
Let’s take a moment to define our terms. We define a tactic as the things you do – or implement – to market or run your business. Your logo, for example. Your website. Your slogan. Your location (if you have one). Your personnel. Your sales presentation. Even how you answer the phone and communicate with prospects and customers. These are all tactics.
A Brand Strategy is something entirely different. Your Brand Strategy is a perception you create that differentiates your business or service from your competition. Put another way, in a world full of competition, your Brand Strategy answers the question: “why you?”
We believe your Brand Strategy must come before any of your decisions about any of your tactics.
We often meet business owners who show us their pretty new logo, or funny new slogan, and inform us they’ve branded themselves. Wrong.
Remember, a brand is a perception or idea you create in the minds of consumers that differentiates you from your competition. Everything else – your tactics – must communicate that perception. If they don’t, they aren’t strategic, and it won’t matter how pretty or funny they are because they won’t help you grow your business. Every business has tactics, few businesses have a strategy.
As most businesses have painfully discovered over time, marketing before strategy usually results in disappointing results.
O.K., if you’re with us this far, we know you’re asking: “what should my strategy be?” Unfortunately, we can’t tell you because we don’t know enough about your competition and your market.
Notice, we didn’t say we don’t know enough about your business. Why? Because knowing about your competition and how they’re perceived is more important than knowing about your own business. And it’s far more important than knowing why you think your business is better than your competition.
We’re going to repeat that.
Knowing how your competition is perceived is more important than knowing why your business is better.
Here’s the secret of marketing success. Listen closely; we’re only going to say it once:
Being better is one thing, being different is everything.
Think about it. If the goal is to give consumers a reason to buy from you, rather than your competition, then you have to create a perception of difference between you and your competition, and the only way to know how to create a different perception is to know how your competition is perceived. If you don’t create that perception of difference, you will be left to compete on price, and that’s no way to build a business.
Many business people we talk to believe they are creating a perception of difference by saying they have better “service,” or “quality,” or “value,” or “experience,” etc.
But remember the secret of marketing success: Being better is one thing, being different is everything. There, we said it again.
Remember also that your competition is using all those same words, so when you use those words, they don’t differentiate you at all. Besides, we’ve all heard promises about service, and quality, and value, for so long – and been disappointed so often – that we just don’t believe those claims any more.
So here’s the tip: Strategy before tactics.
There are a half dozen or so strategic ways to create your perception of difference. Establishing a Brand Strategy that’s right for your business is just one of the marketing services provided at Social Media Perception.
Contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach us by phone at 800-700-4334.