Marketing and advertising alone won’t save you.
It won’t provide you with the fuel to succeed in the global competitive market place. Don’t misunderstand, a great ad campaign can provide a quick, short-lived bump. But long-term growth and market dominance requires more discipline and hard work than just hiring a great advertising agency.
Success has its roots in your brand promise, not just in the way you communicate it. Way to often we see companies and brands try to correct lagging sales and marketing woes by addressing the channels of communication. That is why, for most companies, the advertising agency is a revolving door every 2.5 years. Out with the old and in with the new. Did you ever ask yourself why it is that an agency search has led you to excited appreciation of the new shop on day one, then on every succeeding day the blush fades a little from the rose? After awhile, the rose looks so shriveled and drawn that the only option is to throw it away.
Try Again — Differently
There is another, better way: Fix your brand. It is absolutely the problem. Then find a top-shelf advertising agency to communicate the meaningful and important message with clarity and purpose. It sounds simple enough, but few companies and brands actually do it because brand is the most misunderstood idea in business.
Traditional brand companies don’t understand it at all, in fact. They are usually the problem. Oh sure, they talk a good game. They speak about equities (things the brand owns), clarity, focus, permissions and imagery. They, however, are usually just advertising’s poor stepsisters. In the end, what they create or do rarely moves the needle. It is just a mish-mash of identity creations that more often then not only rehash the accepted orthodoxy.
The Usual Model
The way it usually works starts with a marketing department hiring a brand company when they believe it’s time to refresh the message or logo, or when they are launching a new product.
There is a basic problem with this model: Brand isn’t addressed. The kind of brand that is focused on growing your market share by influencing the behavior of those who are not currently your customers is not solely a marketing problem. As a matter of fact, marketing is only a small part of the problem and therefore only a small part of the solution.
When you think about brand the way you should, it is a cultural shift that affects everything a company creates and believes about itself. It is a problem that can only be addresses by the C-suite. Stealing market share is the province of the CEO which is why they and other top-level executives need to involved and champion the effort.
The most successful brands are the result of a CEO or top-level executive recognizing that a hard look is needed at the entire organization in increase market share. A company will surely fail if it believes the main hurdle to growing share is simply a marketing problem.
Get it Right
In order to steal market share, you must understand the anthropological precepts of the target audience you wish to influence. This means you must understand what your brand does and why the prospect cares about it. Think about what they are trying to accomplish in their lives that your product or service helps facilitate.
To do this, employ some very sophisticated research techniques and studies whose only goal is to lay these behavioral triggers bare and better understand the aspirations audiences seek in their decision-making.
In other words, strive to quantify emotional intensities. Look objectively and dispassionately at highly intensive and subjective ideas and beliefs. Once these are uncovered and understood, they become more important than any product benefit you own. They become the fuel that ignites change.
This means that everything the company says and does needs to match the emotional intensity of the target audience and become an extension of the company and not just the new flavor of the marketing message.
To pay this off, the brand (the highest emotional intensity of the target market) must be reflected in your brand’s new culture. It needs to be saluted in R&D, management, organization, human resources, hiring, firing, downsizing, growth, marketing, PR, investor relations and sales — in everything you do or stand for.
Stealing market share is the province of the CEO. To accomplish that, it requires corporate change that only a CEO can oversee and shepherd through.
So, next time you think sales and market share growth have not lived up to expectations, fix the problem and position your brand to win instead of going back the advertising agency merry-go-round.