…It’s Not Just About Being Pretty
It usually starts with “I’m looking to update my website and maybe my logo”, and I say “GREAT!” Yes people, it’s time to take off those legwarmers. The first step is to accept you have a problem. The second step is introspection – what is the first impression you want customers, prospects, and the industry to have of you? I liken it to a makeover – true beauty is from the inside out.
Judged by First Appearance
We all know it is true our success is often made by a snap judgment based on the cars we drive or the watches, shoes and clothes we wear. Why would you not think the same of your logo, marketing materials, website, and even workplace? To go one step further, society’s attention span has been reduced to a few seconds, so we really need to make it count.
Making it Count
It is not just all about being pretty. We can design a beautiful logo, marketing materials, and website, but if there is not a method behind the madness, you are losing out. It has been said that we shed our skin every seven years—it is essentially a rebirth. That is the same concept we need to take about our businesses. Is your image portraying who you are? Does your messaging address what your customers’ and prospects’ needs are? Are you bringing value? So how do you figure this out? With old fashioned research and planning.
Steps to Success
1. Competitive Analysis
What are the other kids wearing? Seriously, what do your competitors look like? How do they position themselves? Where are they advertising? What is their social reach? What value is their website bringing their customers?
It is an incredible exercise to evaluate at least your top three. Maybe you don’t think you have any direct competition. Then instead examine who competes on a product or service level. The bottom line is what can you learn from them? How do you stack up? What are they doing well and where can you dominate? Look at their:
- Brand Positioning
- Key Differentiators
- Marketing Impact
- Social Influence
2. Comprehensive Online Audit
Take a good hard look at how your website is performing for you. It should be an outside sales rep bringing you leads. It should be a resource for your clients. It should be the hub for content that positions you as a thought leader in your market. We look behind the curtain at the structure to determine what “grade” you are given by the search engines. We use tools to evaluate your site to determine:
- Domain Authority: Site rankings in search engine results
- User Experience: Overall quality of interaction and appeal of the site
- Organic: How well the source code of a site is optimized for search engines
- Unique Tools: Does the site have any useful tools that set it apart?
3. Key Stakeholder Interviews
You know the saying never assume because you make an … well you know the rest. You don’t know until you ask. You need to ASK your current customers, lost customers, and prospects questions that assist in shaping messaging and planning.
Almost everyone struggles with perceived objections like: Do they know all the products and services you offer? Do they think you are expensive? You also need to learn what are the key factors that affect their buying? Who influences the decision making?
How do they want to communicate? This is especially true now that we are marketing to a multigenerational buyer set. You may think you are doing it with customer satisfaction surveys or ISO requirements, but likely they are not going to tell you what they are willing to tell a third party.
4. Influencer Identification
We are all influenced by a plethora of resources—TV, magazines, and celebrities. So who are the influencers in your market? We look to the trade magazines, shows, speakers, online publications, bloggers, associations and online communities that your customers are seeking for thought leadership. Once we know who they are, they become a new target audience. If we can receive an endorsement from them to share our content with their readership and/or following, we have exponentially increased our brand exposure. For those of you who are old enough, it is like the old Faberge Organics commercial (and they told two friends and so on and so on.)
5. Buyer Persona Profiling
As an outcome of the research is the ability to develop buyer persona profiles. I cannot begin to tell you how useful these are to your team, your marketing staff, and as an onboarding tool. It is critical to be able to understand the differences in the needs of audience segments, such as procurement, engineer, and c-level. This allows you to customize and target the marketing message to address the pain points and/or challenges of each individual. It provides opportunity to address perceived objections before they even become an issue. What do your customer segments look like?
6. Annual Planning
We are in the home stretch now. All this data allows you to plan your brand foundation, including your brand story, designing a logo that fits your image, and determining the sales tool kit you need to arm your business development team.
The research will also arm you with the information you need to decide what marketing tactics are required to expose your brand and compete on the same playing field. It also includes a campaign, content, and editorial calendar along with an implementation schedule and budget to determine what you can do in-house vs outsourcing.
By the way, this is not fiction. It is reality. We have many stories to share, but amongst my favorites is our client KCIC in Washington DC. The story begins with an RFQ for a website. After an inappropriately long email chain asking the questions of what do you do, who do you do it for, and why do you do it better, an awkward Skype call solidified a long-term relationship. One of their challenges was how to have a concise “elevator pitch” without comparing themselves to their well-known competition.
What went from for a request for a website turned into a “dreaming session” that then followed the six steps to arrive at a new logo with brand messaging, marketing materials that told stories, infographics to define services, a blog serving as a content hub, and a responsive website as the cornerstone of their marketing presence. For more information on this story, request the case study. I bet you will find that despite the industry you are in, you are not so different in your marketing needs.
Bottom Line – Look as Cool as You Are!
Beauty starts within, as should your makeover. Begin with diving deep into clarifying who you are and then define what qualities you are looking for with the audience you are trying to entice! After your “nutrition” is complete, you can begin designing the look, the online experience, and the sales tools to attract! It is time for the new you to emerge so you too can look as cool as you are! Feel free to call me to schedule your makeover appointment! Lines are open!