Effective marketing and how the COO can effect it
By Tom Dougherty
Effective marketing often leaves the Chief operating officers with little to no opportunity to participate in the marketing of a company, but they are crucial to the success of a brand. If the brand promises are not fulfilled, then the corporate brand will fail.
And often that responsibility falls to the COO who ultimately controls and directs brand operations.
If the brand operations of the company, even in the tiniest detail, fulfill the brand promise, that brand becomes the most powerful tool a company can have to steal market share and even change the category.
Because of that, the COO is the most important person in determining the success of the brand and its goals for effective marketing. It’s down at the ground level, where the COO management skills are put into effect, where the corporate brand becomes real and not just an empty marketing promise.
The corporate brand promise, of course, must be truly different (and better) than the competition, and the sad truth is that most of them are not. Few promise emotional connections that would truly differentiate a brand, so the COO often is left with “business as usual” instead of taking advantage of the opportunities that exist in the marketplace. (Read about the CEO’s responsibility here)
Why Brands Often Fail the COO
Too many brands promise the same things the competition promises, such as good quality, extraordinary service and low prices. Those are called “table stakes,” what you must have to even play in the game. This is not brand operations in its truest sense.
In banking, for example, all promise many ATMs, friendly service, low fees and good rates. That is a definition of a bank, and without them, a bank can’t survive as a bank at all.
They represent what you must have and, as a COO, you must make sure your company has best practices, thus keeping you considered in the minds of potential new customers and preventing your current ones from switching.
Table stakes, or good practices, are important, but do not confuse them with creating preference. Preference is found elsewhere, in a brand that is an emotional self-reflection of the customer.
When that happens, the hard work of fulfilling a brand promise begins for a COO – and, with that, comes change.
How the COO can Effect Marketing? By Acting on Change
Change is difficult, and it can become emotional for some, but it’s within change where the opportunities exist. Companies that don’t embrace change are often the ones left behind.
How the COO can effect marketing and ensure effective marketing? Again, the responsibility of making change successful falls to the COO. This includes a new corporate brand and the resulting brand operations. To ensure change meets the challenge of the brand promise(s), you must look at your processes and ask yourself a handful of questions: What priorities must be re-ordered? What new support do I need to make those changes? Where must there be increased focus? Where do operations fail to fulfill the brand promise or should they be eliminated altogether? How do I evaluate?
There will be other questions you must ask yourself and other changes to consider in order to fulfill the brand promise. The key is focus. If something does not fulfill the brand promise, don’t do it.
It’s also important to remember that a brand serves the customer, and is not a description of the company itself or what it does. An emotional self-reflection of the customer is often the only reason customers can choose because most markets are undifferentiated and is the hallmark of effective marketing.
Don’t be deluded that your products are so much better than the competition and that only maintaining high quality will put your company in the forefront. As mentioned before, those only keep you in the game.
Because most markets are undifferentiated today, the only way audiences are able to make a choice or, more importantly, prefer a product is by choosing a self-reflection of themselves that’s so compelling they are powerless to choose any other.
Brand is Your Guide
For the COO, that means the guide for change is to focus on customers, and what the result of your operations mean to them. For many companies, processes have been in place for years. Because of that, people often respond with “That’s the way we’ve always done it” when faced with the prospect of change, and that’s not an acceptable answer.
If the brand promises a self-reflection of the customer, then the end result of your effective marketing must fulfill that. You must keep your eye on the ball, so to speak, so that you always think about how the result affects the customer. If the process does not do that, then it does not support the brand or steal market share, and becomes basically useless.
Brand is not about marketing, because what your marketing department does is simply provide the symbols of what your brand actually represents. It is the internal operations of a company that make the brand real.
Without the back end to the front-facing messages, the messages themselves become empty and the brand fails. Even one misstep can make a difference between the brand’s success and failure in the mind of a single customer because doubt creeps in at that failure.
It’s a heavy responsibility for a COO, but it is the most integral part of building a successful brand. (Read about aligning operations with marketing here)