Branding – You’re Doing It Wrong: Why Your Brand Is Not What You Say It Is

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” -Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon

It’s funny, when you think of “branding” as it relates to business, marketing, advertising…the first things that come to mind are logos, tag lines, and font choices.

We spend meticulous hours behind closed doors, focusing intently on “building the perfect brand”. Everything has to be exactly right. It has to emphasize exactly what our business stands for.

But in reality, it doesn’t matter what you think your brand message says about your business. Not an ounce.

All these things we do in branding, marketing and advertising are aimed at one goal: creating an emotional connection with consumers. That’s what a brand really is.

The quote I mentioned above could not be any more true. Brand is not for us to decide. No matter how amazing we think it is, none of that matters if the consumer feels differently.

Building A More Solid Brand Message

So what do you do if all this is true? How can you establish a brand if you’re not the one deciding its meaning?

It’s quite simply really: ask. Ask your current clients & customers. Survey a portion of visitors to your website. Get creative with it.

Ask them questions like:

  1. What in your eye does our company represent to you?
  2. How would you describe our company to someone new?
  3. What made you decide to work with our company?

Once you’ve begun to collect this data, there are two possible routes you can take:

  1. If you are happy with what you hear, you now have clear direction as to the types of things you’ll look to incorporate into your brand & marketing messaging moving forward. Your consumers have created a destination & your messaging will become your roadmap for others to follow suit.
  2. If you are unhappy with what you hear, you now have grounds to steer your branding & marketing efforts in another direction in order to find your center.

At the end of the day, maybe you’re right on point, maybe you’re dead wrong. That doesn’t matter, so don’t beat yourself up over it. What does matter is that by finding out what consumers really think about you, there’s a better chance you can not only deliver what they expect from you, but work to change that expectation over time.

Build a better brand, one that actually resonates with your consumers, the people that are ultimately the reason for your success in the first place. The customer is always right, right?

Micro Marketing vs Macro Marketing & Why There’s A Clear Winner

Have you seen the second Lord of the Rings film, The Two Towers? If you haven’t, first of all what the hell are you waiting for? Second of all, let me explain a bit…

Spoiler Alert: An army of evil doers marches against an army consisting of the protagonists of the film that are hiding out in “Helm’s Deep”, a castle like fortress with very high walls. At first, the ugly looking bad guys spread out along the wall in an effort to scale it at a number of different points. This did not go so well. However, later along in the fight they find a weak spot in the fortress’ wall, send a kamikaze guy into it with a bomb and boom, they blow an entire section out of the wall! They then proceed to infiltrate.

The initial strategy used by the bad guys in this case is similar to that which was used in early warfare. Everyone lines up in a straight line, marches towards the enemy army (all marching in a straight line), fire their guns, reload, repeat. As you can imagine, also not an effective strategy.

Through the years however, modern warfare has taken a more tactical approach, using small strike forces & covert operations to get the impact they need while minimizing the risk.

How This Applies To Marketing Strategy

If you think about it, the way that marketers have traditionally approached inbound strategy is very similar to the non-effective tactics from the above example.

By trying to focus on every element of inbound marketing at the same time, we are effectively spreading ourselves thin. It’s easy to fall into this trap. I’ll admit it, I started out and operated in this way for a long time as well. With so many opportunities to take advantage of, your natural tendency is to do it all: SEO, conversion optimization, social media, PPC, email nurture…the list goes on as you know it.

The fact of the matter is, this is not an efficient strategy, it’s not scalable and it takes forever to see concrete results.

By sprinkling your effort across a ton of different channels, not much gets done to really move the needle.  Does this sound familiar?

Take SEO for example, if this is one small thing your doing at any given time, the amount of content you can optimize, the amount of off-site promotion you can do, is just a small fraction of the effort you could be applying if it was all you were doing. Likewise if it were all you were doing, your results would be exponentially impactful in terms of results, and occurring over a shorter time frame.

However, another approach to inbound marketing strategy is that of “micro marketing”. Where macro marketing tends to be spread to thin and inefficient, micro marketing excels.

Why A Micro Marketing Strategy Is A Better Alternative

The gist of micro marketing is this: pick a small, targeted aspect of your overall marketing campaign, focus 100% of your effort on that area for a defined amount of time, assess results and repeat.

By focusing on small, impactful areas, over short periods of time, you can get far down the road with that aspect, and can quickly determine whether or not it’s working and whether or not it’s a viable strategy. Plain and simple, you get results faster. Both goal related and data related.

Shit. Gets. Done. Sounds great, right?

How You Can Get Started With Micro Marketing

  1. Based on your audience personas and marketing goals, identify one marketing channel (SEO, PPC, Social, etc.) that has the most potential in terms of making headway towards your marketing goals.
  2. Predetermine a defined amount of time to spend solely focusing on this particular area of your marketing strategy.
  3. Plan out your week, month, day (whatever your time period may be) with clear actionable items. Your get shit done list.
  4. Hold yourself and/or team accountable for this action list, and make sure everything is executed.
  5. Review your action items, determine the results of these efforts with data.
  6. Make your next micro marketing decision: continue on current course, pivot to new marketing channel, etc.

What marketing strategy do you use for either your inbound marketing campaigns? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss!

inbound marketing funnel

Inbound Marketing Is A Funnel, Not A Trap

Imagine you’re walking down the street in a city you’ve never been to, looking for a good place to grab a slice of pizza.

You come upon the first pizza shop on the block. It has a huge blinking neon sign that screams “BEST PIZZA ON THE PLANET!”. You can’t really see inside the windows due to huge posters depicting delicious looking pies with all the toppings covering the glass. On the door there is a sign that says “For the next hour only, buy 3 slices and get a free 20oz soda! Don’t miss out on this incredible offer!”.

Thinking you clearly you won’t find a better option, you step inside and order your meal. After waiting a half hour, your slices and soda are brought out, and your face renders a look of utter disappointment. The pizza looks like it has been sitting out under a heat lamp for days, the cheese and toppings looking “aged”. Your soda is watered down and flat. Total bummer.

You decide to avoid the meal all together and press on to find a better place to eat, totally fine with taking the hit on your initial pizza investment.

You happen upon another pizza place on the next block. A simple sign outside says “Honestly Good Pizza”. Outside of the door, there is a gentleman handing out free bite size samples of their pizza. It’s delicious. Once inside, there’s a large window peering into the kitchen, where you can see all the care being put into crafting your fresh pizza…

Now which place would you choose?

It might sound silly, but the same type of logic can be said about the different philosophies of inbound marketing. Sure, both ways of doing things convert, but if you’re looking to build lasting relationships with people, have them identify with your brand, become raving fans, return customers and brand advocates for you, there’s only one way of doing things. Continue reading…

Get Your Ass In Gear With Email Marketing

If you’re not doing email marketing yet, what the heck are you waiting for?

Look at some of the top internet marketers and successful online companies out there. For example look at Neil Patel’s blog Quicksprout, or Corbett Barr’s blog ThinkTraffic, or even a non-marketer brand like Velaro Live Chat Services. What do all these sites have in common? Duh! They all have a hyper focus on grabbing that email address.

So if all these big shots are putting focus on email marketing, there has to be a reason right? Of course there is.

Drum roll please….it’s because it works. The DMA reports a return on investment of $40 for every $1 spent on email marketing. I’ll take those odds any day. Here’s another fact while I’m dishing ‘em out: a survey conducted in 2012 of consumer preferences and channel habits showed 77% preferred to receive permission-based promotions via email.

I won’t bore you with any more numbers, but I’ll tell you one thing, it’s a hell of a lot better than social media or any of these other tactics the “gurus” are preaching these days. Continue reading…

tips for writing better content

8 Actionable Steps To Writing Better Content

I feel like an overwhelming majority of inbound strategy recently has been stirring around the topic of content marketing. Content marketing for SEO, content marketing for ‘link-bait’, content marketing for lead generation. On and on and on.

And so often I hear the same story: “Man, this content marketing thing is rough. I’ve spent weeks trying to promote my content, but haven’t gotten any traction”.

Wait, let’s back up for one second. Where exactly does the actual “content” part of content marketing come into play here?

Time and time again when asking the question “What is your strategy for writing content?”, I get a puzzled look in return. It seems that everyone has forgotten that the core of true content marketing isn’t in the promotional tactics.

After weeks of head shaking, face palming bewilderment, I have come to realize the major problem in this equation is us. By “us” I mean the “experts” you all turn to for advice. For all the information we’ve given on the topic of “content marketing”, we’ve forgotten to start with the basics. And that is this: For you to have true success with content marketing, your content has to be not just good, but truly great.

Okay, so now we’ve got that all out of the way, let’s all take a step back and focus on creating really awesome content, shall we? Content that deserves to be marketed.Here are eight actionable steps to start writing better content: Continue reading…