If a football team’s winning recipe for success lies in the synergy of its people, why would a company or organization dive head first into creating a logo, brochure, website, social media or ad campaign without first considering the internal team’s thoughts and perceptions, as well as when and how all of these marketing tools should be used? The better solution is to first engage the team in a positioning workshop to find out how your biggest brand ambassadors think and feel about the company's image, audience, competition and points of distinction.
Enlist Your “12th Man”
Just as rowdy home team fans can have a major impact on the outcome of a game, so can your customers, vendors and referral sources. Obtaining their perspective — both good and bad — is critical to building a credible brand that will resonate with similar audiences. Reaching out to your customers will also show them that you care about their opinion, reinforcing your positive relationships, and improving your less than perfect ones. While testimonials are great, the best input digs deeper than a pat on the back. Instead it gets to the core of how your target audiences think and feel, allowing you to then leverage their feedback to improve your strategy.
Develop Your Playbook
Football, lacrosse, baseball — you name it, every sport has a playbook. NFL coaches hold it over their mouths to keep lip-reading competitors at bay, while quarterbacks wear a version of it around their wrist for easy access. Likewise, every business or organization needs a game plan that will position it for success amidst a competitive landscape.
A marketing action plan takes into account the internal and external feedback obtained in the research phase and uses the resultant “positioning statement” as its foundation. The plan outlines what will be done, when, who it will target, when it will be distributed, and how much it will cost to implement each brand touch point. When a marketing plan is based on a solid positioning and followed properly, it becomes a road map to success.
Execute the Plays
Whether you’re watching the game at the stadium or on your own big screen, nothing gets football fans up out of their seat like a well-executed play that leads to a first down. From a long bomb down the sideline or a running play that burns through the secondary, a strategic play that is implemented by a team working in unison is a beautiful sight.
Use this same analogy when considering your brand. If you have the right people, the right positioning, the right plan and the right partners in place to help you create your brand touch points you have yourself a winning combination. Memorable logos and business cards, websites that rank high on search engines, and digital marketing that generate leads, don’t happen by luck. They work when they have been built to support a company’s desired market positioning.
Don’t Stop Until The Whistle Blows
As a fan, it’s frustrating to watch your team make an amazing play, only to lose the ball because a player stopped running before they hit the end zone, or because he was showboating. The same holds true in brand building. When you’ve come 90% of the way, don’t stop short when comes to producing and distributing your materials. A new brochure that’s written and designed to attract your target audience but that’s printed on a low grade paper will negatively impact recipient perceptions. A website that goes live but has broken links can cause users to click off and onto a competitor's site, and a retail sign that can't be seen from road will get passed by. Regarding distribution, marketing materials are like a gym membership — you’ll only get results if you use it.
Kick Off the New Year with a Kick-Butt Brand
Before you replace your CEO hat with a cheese head, horns, beak or other team mascot accessories, take a moment to consider how building a successful brand is similar to building a championship team:
- Position: Beyond a SWOT analysis, a facilitated Positioning Workshop will provide a forum for internal voices to be heard and strategic business decisions to be made.
- Confirm: External audience interviews will provide vital insight that determines the accuracy of the market positioning and the quality of the brand.
- Plan: A detailed Marketing Action Plan clarifies what should be done, who it should target, when it will be completed, and how much should be budged for quality implementation.
- Create: Effectively written and designed materials will generate brand awareness, open doors to new opportunities and help close sales.
- Produce: Obtain a return on investment from a streamlined process and well-managed print and technical production that keeps both quality and budget in mind.