When you’re on the starting blocks ready to kick-start your marketing strategy, do you have a clear idea of where you’re going and which elements of marketing you should take along with you for the journey, or will you just take a stab in the dark and hope for the best?
Effective marketing calls for a careful selection of tactics, with a clear idea of identity from day one. Building from scratch with blank-page marketing enables you to deliver your company vision to a target market with a strong brand message and no dilution of communication. How will you demonstrate your passion about your product or service and outshine the competition? Think ‘marketing’ and people generally think ‘big budget’, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Marketing campaigns can grow organically, gradually improving brand visibility in line with return on investment. What does your sales revenue need to equate to in order to cover the cost of effective advertising? It may not be as high a figure as you think.
Most would agree that for the majority of businesses a website is crucial from the outset, with all branding running seamlessly with this. Please though, not one of those bland template ‘one size fits all’ sites! You know the ones, with an image of a girl holding a telephone, a suited businessman carrying a briefcase or a guy with a spanner in his hand. We came across a company who passed off the group on the website as their sales team, naming each one individually. Which was fine until the same group surfaced as models on an online photo stock library, shattering the illusion of personal attention and trust! It’s not worth the risk is it? We often work co-creatively with a professional photographer for websites and brochures, enabling the client’s identity and corporate image to shine through. Regular blogs increase curiosity, cost nothing and encourage returning traffic to the website, sharing comments and opinions, ensuring it isn’t simply a ‘one stop shop’. A website should show your individuality. However, marketing doesn’t begin and end with a stunning website. Never miss the opportunity to increase brand visibility. Something as simple as business cards or logo’d promotional items which will stand out from the competition with eye-catching designs, are invaluable but relatively low-cost marketing tools.
Ultimately, your aim is to motivate your customers into action, to persuade them to pick up the telephone and talk to you, visit your shop or office, or test drive a product. People are looking for benefits and for a reason to choose you ahead of competitors. Is your marketing strategy heading in the right direction or do you need a creative sat.nav to get you back on track?
I’ll let you into a secret if you promise not to let anyone else in on it. Every year, when winter ends, I take out my summer clothes which have been packed away in a trunk and replace them with my cold weather togs ready for my husband to put the trunk back up in the attic for the next 6 months. In reality it may not actually get as far as the attic as it’s never high on his agenda and the trunk is likely to sit in the corner of the bedroom until finally the grand opening day arrives with the start of the next season. I eagerly anticipate the pleasure of sifting through the contents until I’m confronted with the same old uninspiring collection I’ve been hoarding for years. An overwhelming aura of boredom sets in almost immediately. So where’s all this leading?
There seems to me to be a distinct similarity between both a Corporate and a personal identity. We are consciously aware that we need to refresh our personal image on a fairly constant basis, but may ignore the fact that the visual identity of our brand can become jaded and outdated. The brand image is reflected in the Company logo, typography, literature and product packaging. Although a strong and memorable logo will stand the test of time, even the most outstanding brands need to move with the times with the identity being tweaked as it progresses. If we compare my tired looking wardrobe with a corporate identity, potentially a creative agency serves as both a personal dresser and bespoke tailor. It can be easy to lose touch with how we’re perceived by our customers, to see ourselves how others see us. Ever had a shock when you’re confronted with your reflection in a changing room mirror and can see yourself from all angles? How often do we take a step back and make an honest appraisal of our brand image or ask for an outside honest opinion of how the brand is perceived, the ‘top of mind’ or first impression we make on our customers?
How many websites do we visit where the copy is out of date, the images are no longer relevant to the brand message and there’s no evidence of a blog or optimization of social media? If we can spot this failing in others, can we be as objective when we review our own on-line marketing strategy? Whether off-line or on-line, the brand personality may well have been spot on when it was originally created, but as with everything fertile, it needs to continue to grow and adapt to an ever changing marketplace. If the image isn’t refreshed from time to time, the reaction from the customer isn’t going to be far removed from mine whenever I open up that clothes trunk.
How’s your spring image looking?
Hands up anyone who is working on a marketing strategy to capitalise on the 2012 Olympic Games? Ah ha! Are you one of the 86% of companies who aren’t aware of the Government bill prohibiting adverts linked by association of words to the Games? The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has passed legislation supposedly with the intention of safeguarding the official sponsors’ financial investment and protecting the Olympic brand. So no use will be allowed of the words medal, gold, games, London, summer, silver or bronze in conjunction with 2012, two thousand and twelve, or twenty twelve. The Olympic motto is also protected with the restriction on the use of Citius, Altius, Fortius/Faster, Higher, Stronger. Have you reached for the Tippex yet?
They say that there will be opportunities for UK business to benefit, but apparently this has to be ‘behind closed doors’ as any company contracted to work on an Olympic project will have to sign a confidentiality agreement not to advertise the fact and even internal communication with staff has to be limited. Perhaps we should prepare to be creative with code words, Operation O etc. Breaches to the bill are threatened with a fine of £20,000 with unlimited fines for more serious cases, presumably with the intention of dissuading companies who stand to profit more from the advertising campaign than they would lose if they were fined.
Ambush, or gorilla marketing has been used effectively during major sporting events in the past. In the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Kodak sponsored the TV coverage on the games and the US track event team, while Fuji was the official sponsor. Fuji had their revenge when they similarly ambushed Kodak’s sponsorship of the 1988 Games in Seoul. It may not be strictly ethical to jump onto the bandwagon, but is it fair that Goliath-sized multi-national brands have the advantage over small businesses with limited budgets? Don’t work on a strategy to turn up at the Games with your staff wearing Company logo’d t-shirts hoping to be caught on camera as that’s not permitted either. Leave the branded hats and umbrellas behind, or you risk having them confiscated.
We’re told that the intention of the Bill is to prevent businesses unfairly cashing in on the Olympics by implying they have some form of official association or link with the Games. This follows the example set in Sydney when they hosted the 2000 Olympics. The Government says that they want to adopt a ‘proportionate common sense approach’. No worries there then! It might be wise to be wary if you plan to feature your key staff as your company’s 2012 Gold Medal Winners. You may just get a knock on the door from the Sponsor police. They need to recoup at least some of the £400,000 spent on the design of the Olympic logo!