Building a solid base for brand communications
As a society we’re obsessed with quick fixes, instant celebrity and immediate gratification.
The marketing industry, being reflective of broader society, is no different; too often it approaches everything from a short-term perspective.
- Give me extra sales. NOW!
- Make my brand famous. NOW!
- I want a media profile. NOW!
Even social media – a still-emerging but already powerful communications (r)evolution – is bizarrely often treated in the same way as a TV commercial or direct mailer i.e. another channel to broadcast a one-way sales message. Weird, but that’s the way it is in a world where senior executives at large organisations don’t take the time to better understand the seismic societal shift that’s happening around them (topic for another post methinks).
All of which, of course, is counter to the process of building a brand.
All of which goes against the grain of building a company’s name and reputation in the marketplace.
While it has always taken time, forethought and considerable effort to earn and retain the respect and trust of consumers, the case has never been truer than in today’s hyper-connected commercial environment where transparency and authenticity are the ‘king and queen’ of communications.
I touched on this issue in a recent blog post (PR Warrior: Marketing Today is a ‘Game of Inches’) – using the analogy of American football, advertisers generally always look for the big crowd-pleasing ‘touchdown’ (i.e. the viral ad that goes gangbusters or the feature story on a high-rating TV news program) but in reality, success comes from grinding out the game, gaining ‘yardage’ inch by inch.
It’s the same with marketing.
Build your brand and earn respect over time – inch by inch.
However, this does not mean you can’t expect results any time soon, or activate campaigns designed to spark interest in your brand. Far from it!
The odd campaign – whether online, through the media or event-based – will always have a better chance of working if it’s properly targeted, strategically sound and based around a solid creative idea that resonates with key audiences.
However, campaigns will work more effectively if they’re added over-and-above to a solid base of sustained brand communications. I’m talking a day-by-day/week-by-week proposition – a drip-feeding of PR-driven activity throughout the year.
What do I mean by ‘sustained brand communications’?
If PR is all about communicating with the people who matter most to your business, then basically we’re talking about any activity that sits under this broad remit. And communication shouldn’t just be with end-consumers but also media, bloggers and other influencers and stakeholders (the audience groups will depend largely on the type of company you run and who you need to talk with on a regular basis).
Earn attention by creating and leveraging strategic communication platforms or tactical ‘conversation points’ designed to get people talking via multiple channels –
THINK: ‘traditional’ media – news, feature stories, column pieces and opinion pieces ‘drip-fed’ over a period of time to newspapers, magazines, radio and TV programs (where relevant).
THINK: ‘live’ media – speaking engagements, roundtable briefings, sponsorships/partnerships, stunts and events, forums, seminars, expos, roadshows etc.
THINK: ‘social’ media – blogs, podcasts, video, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, 2.0-enabled website and online newsroom etc.
If it’s sustained marketing success you’re after (versus merely short-term campaign-based ‘hits’), it’s important to understand the power of building a solid foundation of brand communications.
This requires brands to produce and distribute interesting and relevant content, share ideas and information, and participate in two-way dialogue with the broader marketplace – on and offline.
Again, I reiterate this doesn’t mean you don’t run any tactical brand campaigns using advertising, direct marketing or any other mediums that work for you. But it does require a broader scope of thinking and a willingness to do the ‘little things’ in a communications sense – again and again and again…