No matter how many years a company has been in business and what kind of revenue they are earning annually, these questions are never off the table;
- Is our marketing strategy effective?
- How are we different from our competition?
- What will it take to grow our business to the “next level?”
Marketing, branding, sales. While all three aspects are important, what is the difference and how can a marketing manager, structure their marketing plan, to ensure all three are covered, and are strategically supporting the business.
When a business is set for growth, they will ask themselves these questions over and over, and will wonder which comes first. Shall they just send their sales people pounding the pavement? Shall they focus on inbound marketing to get more sales? Or shall they focus on branding to solidify a business’s positioning first?
While every business is different – they could be at a different stage of their growth, they might have different resources available, or their business model is unique – there’s one thing that is fundamental. The base is always the same, the capacity or scale of this approach might be different from one business to another, but the steps would remain the same. There must be an unshakable vision behind a business. And it must come from somewhere.
Branding. (Who you are.)
If you operate your business in an economically developed country, you have a big task on your hands to differentiate yourself from your competition. No matter what type of business you run – consumer goods or services. There’s very little room for something utterly new here. Open any business magazine or walk into a department store. The market is overpopulated with ideas, products and special offerings. So much so, your average customer has so many choices, it’s not going to take long for them to find what they need. The demand is there, but so is competition. With competition level being high in virtually any industry, a constant question on any business owner’s or manager’s mind is – “How do we cut through the army of options?”
Branding. But, not branding in a sense of “looking good on paper.” While your visual representation is critical, what’s more important is the intention behind your brand. And even if you think that there’s nothing dramatically different about your business, what’s really different is how you deliver yourself. Your core values already drive every decision behind the business. By making these values known and by translating them into your unique story, there, you have a solid foundation that no one will be able to replicate.
Here’s how Starbuck connects their values to their actions:
Marketing. (How you talk about it.)
Once you’ve uncovered your unique foundation, now is the time to verbalize it and create consistency in your conversation with potential clients. When your branding is crystal clear, then your marketing will flow more naturally, too. No longer you need to be frustrated with images that do not go with your overall marketing strategy or your radio ad not being “catchy enough.” All of your marketing campaigns will be an extension of your branding (as outlined in your Brand Book), while being strategically aligned with your today’s business goals.
Sales (The result.)
As fluffy as it may sound – money is not the goal, it’s the result – the aftermath of a clear intention, hard work and consistency. Is it safe to say that if your branding is uniquely clear and your marketing is in line with your brand, your sales will come? Well, one thing is for certain in business – it’s uncertainly. However, if we look at the example above, and many other companies that achieved great success, and grew their businesses to that next desired level, what is common between all of them – they didn’t settle for mediocrity. They aimed to be extraordinary on every level.
They have a distinct, unique voice, and they are most definitely are not being lost in the army of competition.