As the avenues available to us to communicate our brand have been increasing exponentially, I thought it was a good time to take a moment to audit how our business communicates, what it communicates, where it communicates,to whom and if the message was consistent, effective and acted upon. This blog was sparked from that process.
For any small company, without massive resources at their disposal, this can be a daunting task. People are intimidated as they do not know where to begin or what questions they should be asking themselves. No matter how large or how small you are as a company, a place to start is thinking about what you are trying to achieve.
- What are the key talking points you are trying to get out into your marketplace?
- Do these talking points relate directly back to company objectives, brand and company culture?
- What mediums do you currently use to communicate your message?
- Do you feel that you are effective in your communication? Why or why not?
- How much can you afford to budget in terms of capital and time?
- What do you feel would be a good return on your investment?
Time and time again, these questions have led to conversations that have shown inconsistency in a client’s current communication that have led to brand confusion by intended audiences or worse yet. . . disengagement!
In order to understand whether you have consistent marketing or not, ask yourself the following question: Whether people interact with you via social media, your website, blog, direct mail, trade shows, mobile or traditional media, do they truly understand what you do and perceive your value? If you answer no, probably you are not being consistent across mediums in term of your core messaging.
Is your message strategy clear across mediums whether they are on line or off? Yes, you have different audiences that are attracted to different communication methods (that is why you don’t just have one ad in one place and pray), but you need to make sure that wherever and whenever you communicate with your intended audience, you are deliberate and focussed on the values that differentiate you, your product or service from those that compete with you. People need to understand, across mediums, why you are different, what value you bring to the table and why they should care about what you do.
A simple example of providing a confused message would be creating an ad with a QR Code on the side of a bus that links back to the home page of your website that is not mobile friendly. There are many problems with this scenario, but let’s just look at the obvious ones. The first one being is the fact that by the time the person loads up their QR code reader to scan to code, the bus will have driven away. The second issue, even if the person does scan it, it is not sending them to specific information that caused them to want to scan the code in the first place. The scan should have sent people to a page that specifically talked to the ad that was on the side of the bus. Finally, by not being mobile friendly, the information is presented in a way that is not easy for the person reading it to digest. Therefore it failed as an overall strategy. People could not engage, therefore they could not be convinced and therefore they do not care.
Another think to think about when developing communication strategy is that geography alone today will not make you unique. . . just ask the local shoe store that competes with Zappos. Take the time to look at the methods that you are currently using to communicate with your clients. Are they effective? Are they reaching the audience that you desire no matter where they are? Is your intended audience relating to you? Can you back up your answers with “Tangible Evidence“? By taking the time to look at your communication strategy objectively and critically, I think you will be amazed at how a few tweaks can make the world of difference to your bottom line.
Here is another challenge for you . . . it is not just consistency of message across mediums; it is just as important that the message that you are sending out is consistent with your brand!
How many companies claim to have wonderful customer service and support in their advertising and then you have to wait 35 minutes on hold for someone who is powerless to solve your individual issue? How many times have you gone to a trade show and been excited about a new supplier and asked them to get back in touch with you and when they did, the end result did not measure up to the initial promises? Or worse yet. . . they never got back in touch!
It is not enough to have your message on task, if you are saying things consistently, that your brand cannot support, you are still being inconsistent with your communication.
Take the time to be honest with yourself. Is your brand and company culture the backbone of your marketing strategy? IF NOT. . . WHY???????????????????????
Be who you are, realize your strengths and weaknesses and develop strategies that focus on what you do well, but are still not going to open you up to attacks. If you have amazing customer service SAY SO, but be ready to defend it if someone has a lousy experience and tells everyone on line. There is a story from Southwest Airlines of a customer complaint post 9/11 that the staff was not being as serious as she would have liked in how they did the pre-flight safety announcements and said that she would be taking her business elsewhere. The story goes that the president himself sent this woman back a hand written note that said “We will miss you!” In this case, the message was perfectly consistent with the brand. Southwest never shirked its responsibility to make sure its customers were safe and secure when flying, but they do so in a way that is consistent with their culture.
In short, consistent communication is not an easy thing, but it is critical for the survival of any business. We are all judged, rightly or wrongly, but what we say in relation to what we do and if the inconsistencies are too large, then we are ignored.
Take the time to critically look at what you are trying to say, to whom and what you wish the outcome to be. The litmus test is, does it relate back to our brand and culture and will people easily relate to the messaging in a positive manner? With those thoughts in mind, good things are bound to happen. As always, we are here to help build Tangible Evidence for your Brand, that Gets YOU Noticed! We can’t wait to hear from you!