Why Don’t Marketers Put the First Thing First: Their Brand?
We get it: everyone is busy. We’re all wearing multiple hats and essentially pulling cross-divisional shifts to keep the marketing train rolling. The good news is that the train is rolling. Marketing has more budget, respect, and responsibilities than ever before. The bad news is that too many times the brand is getting lost and forgotten at the station. Ultimately, the long-term value of the brand will suffer. Being a good brand steward is the single most important thing marketers can do that delivers significant value. And it’s the one thing that marketers seem to barely have time for.
Brian Hansford at Heinz Marketing created an excellent list of responsibilities that current CMOs are too often, possibly even typically, charged with in this LinkedIn article: The Ridiculous Scope of B2B Marketing Responsibilities. He lists 29 things, readily admits that there are likely more, and he’s probably right.
And that’s just the start of the problem. While all of them might be necessary, they all shouldn’t carry equal weight or priority within the department. To compound matters, brand strategy is hard, takes time to implement and even more time to deliver results. Studies show that when humans have to make a decision on where to put their time, they predictably choose the activity that is determined to be the most urgent. Not the most valuable. Not the most important. We choose the urgent one we can get done most expediently and check off our list.
Technology Isn’t the Answer
Marketing rushed to technology, and in a large part, the technology is responsible for much of the new-found growth and respect throughout the organization. The technology to do almost anything a marketer would want to do is here.
Marketers can connect with the audience, present messages, view the interaction and control the steps in ways that were unimaginable just years ago. But technology still isn’t marketing, it’s just a new (really, really, cool) tool that marketers can use to ply their trade. That is, if you need a reminder, understanding your purpose, followed by the brand (see the Five Gates of Branding), then the execution of the 4Ps. That is what marketing is. As Brian Drew, Senior Digital Strategist at Wilson Advertising likes to say, “If you reflect on your accomplishments at the end of the year and it’s a list of tech implementations, that’s not really marketing.”
Brand First Delivers More Brand Value
Considering the overall value of an organization over time, the value associated with the brand is what determines its actual worth. Without pulling punches, strong brands are simply worth more to investors and potential suitors than lesser brands. Strong brands hold a space in the consumer’s mind. Where others have to go through an entire AIDA cycle (Awareness Interest Desire and Action), strong brands often skip to Desire and Action. Customers are already aware of the offerings and they’re interested. That’s a smaller lift for everyone now, but also allows for more concentrated effort in these areas (Desire and Action) to maximize their results.
Getting on Track Means Putting the Brand Out Front
It’s understood that clearly aligning your brand purpose with your company and creating a brand strategy is hard work. It takes time—time that marketing technology was supposed to give back to marketers but doesn’t seem to have delivered in the quantity expected. Saying that marketers need to be more disciplined in their time is a cop-out. What marketers need to do is start at the beginning and keep the main thing the main thing: the brand. When evaluating new messages, think brand before execution. When looking to reach new audiences, think brand before platforms. If it doesn’t fit with the brand, it doesn’t go forward. It’s that simple. You can start by cutting one non-essential SasS (Software as a Service) or social platform from your current list. That’s how your resource expenditures will compound the value of your brand and contribute to the overall worth, not end up as a cost on the CFO’s floor.
Five Gates of Branding—Discover the steps to renewed growth.
Brand Purpose Matters—See why brand purpose matters and how to find yours.
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