Suddenly Marketing

Brand Messaging | Content Strategy | Writing

Category: Strategy (Page 2 of 8)

Branding in 2013, marketing predictions, and zombie bunnies

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of doing a podcast with my charming and super smart friend, Jon Buscall of Jontus Media. Conversations with Jon are always entertaining and informative, but I was particularly excited about this one because our primary topic was – drumroll please – branding.

Ah, yes … that drum upon which I’ve been beating ceaselessly of late.

Jon and I had way too much fun, and I hope you will to when you give the playback a listen: Bringing Branding Back.

Feel free to drop any questions here or over on Jon’s page. Either of us would be more than happy to talk branding all day.

And be sure to check out other episodes of Jon’s podcast via his site, iTunes, or Stitcher. You can also find him on Twitter @jonbuscall or subscribe to the Jontus Media blog.

Oh, and – P.S. – Jon has written an very detailed and informative ebook about how to start your own podcast: Launch a Podcast & Grow Your Business. We chatted about the benefits of starting a podcast in an earlier episode. Think about it for 2013 …

 

 

The ONE marketing tool you need in 2013

Imagine it’s December 2013.

Imagine your business has just had the most amazing year. Engagement is up. Sales are up. Press coverage is up. Your customers are raving about you. Your competitors are quaking in their boots. You finally have the time and resources to start making your Big Vision a reality.

Life is good.

As you soak in the end-of-year ambiance and reflect on the year gone by, which marketing element do you think will emerge as the secret of your success?

Social media? Content marketing? Branding?

A new medium like podcasting?

A new channel like YouTube?

Your snazzy new website?

 

None of the above.

 

Though any one (or all) of those tactics may have contributed to your stellar performance, I can guarantee something else lies at the root of your achievements:

COURAGE.

 

As you head into the New Year, don’t tiptoe.

Charge.

 

It’s a busiernoisiermore crowded marketplace out there. Blogging, social, and content marketing are no longer shiny, new baubles. It’s not enough to be playing in those spaces, you have to excel in what you do there.

Mediocre won’t get you the win.

Your customers are waiting for you to deliver and delight. They want to be educated, informed, inspired, and entertained.

 

How are you going to do that?

Not with the same-old same-old.

Not with some vanilla execution of a tired idea.

Certainly not with bland corporate gobbledy-gook or lukewarm buzzwords.

 

To stand out you need to be bolder and braver.

You need to try new things and try old things in new ways. You need to put your personal stamp on everything you do, or risk fading into the woodwork. This goes for you, marketing manager at an established B2B company, as much as for my fellow sole proprietor. your playing fields might be different, but the game is essentially the same.

 

Four words:

  • Clarity
  • Competence
  • Confidence
  • Style

Doing your branding homework will bring you and your clients clarity about who you are, who you serve, what you do, how you do it, and why you do it.

Diligent practice of your service or refinement of your product will prove your competence and give you stories to share in your marketing.

With clarity and competence comes confidence. You know you have a right to be here. You know what you want to say and you can put yourself out there with authority.

With these three supporting elements providing a strong foundation, you have the ability to layer on style – the “something extra” that makes your marketing presentation memorable, thought provoking, and uniquely yours.

 

All of this adds up to one word: Courage.

When you have clarity, competence, and confidence, you have the courage to step out with your own style. You don’t feel the need to “tone it down,” put on masks, or imitate the “leaders.” You’re ready to BE a leader. Though you will still get butterflies about publishing a particular piece of content, trying a new medium, or getting behind a message that shatters the status quo, you will find the strength to put yourself out there. You will hit the “publish” button, give the speech, launch the ad, and release the ebook. You will step out of the shadows of mediocrity and into your own spotlight.

And it will serve you well.

 

People don’t like boring. They don’t like “the usual.”

People want excitement. They want to feel something – surprise, pride, belonging, humor.

If you can find the courage to push past your fears and deliver “brave” marketing, you will win not only the minds of your audience, but their hearts, too.

 

… and that will make all the difference in the world.

 

 

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Photo Credit: Arild Storaas (location: Thorvaldsens Museum)

Branding is NOT Optional – Part 3: Do yourself a favor. Get brand.

I know I’ve been getting up on my branding soapbox, but I can’t help it. I’ve become something of a branding geek, and I’m tired of seeing branding get the short end of the stick. I’m tired of seeing companies selling  themselves short.

Time after time, branding gets passed over for shinier, brighter, snazzier baubles like social media, integration, and beautiful new websites. It’s not that I have anything against social media (total Twitter addict, here), integration (let’s come together!), or beautiful new websites (a picture is worth a thousand words … when it’s the right picture). BUT (and this is a big “but”) none of those things work without branding. 

Sure, you can keep yourself busy and make a splash here and there. For a little while. You can add fancy widgets and plug-ins, join Google+, host a webinar, or launch a podcast. You can give your homepage a makeover and get yourself a flashy new logo. BUT – nothing will help you stand out in a crowded market like  having something to say. And not just “something,” but something important, something different, something that resonates with your intended audience – shines out like a beacon across an ocean of me-too marketing ploys and been-there-done-that pitches.

Your brand is your ace in the hole. It’s the one thing no competitor can take away. 

… So, why do so many companies gloss over the branding exercise or skip it all together?

Because.

It’s hard. 

I guide companies and individuals through this process all the time. I have a process. I have experience. I have a knack for pulling out the underlying stories and themes that come together to create branding magic. But no matter how many times I go through this experience, it’s still hard.

Getting to the core of something is never easy. 

You have to push through a lot of superficial stuff. You have to ask questions … and more questions … and more questions. And then you have to find answers. You have to boil the whole thing down to a few bite-sized nuggets of clarity that cut through the noise and – zing! – hit your audience right between the eyes.

It’s hard, but it’s SO worth it.

 

Remember that cautionary tale I told you in part 1 of this series? I was a veritable  poster child for operating without a brand. I was floundering from project to project without a cohesive story or sense of greater purpose. I didn’t stand for anything. AND because I didn’t take the time to define it myself – other people were defining my brand for me.

That is NOT where you want to be.

 

My brand is still a work-in-progress, but getting clear about it is my number one business priority for 2013. I already know what I do. I do it every day. It’s time for me to say it out loud and let other people know it, too.

 

What about you?

Do you know what you stand for?

Are you willing to say it out loud?

 Are you getting crystal clear about just HOW important nailing your brand is to the success of your business?

Are you prepared to do the work of crafting a strong brand that will draw customers to you like that beacon in the night?

Are you ready to unleash the magic of a well-crafted brand?

 

 

If you are, stick around. I will be sharing more branding resources and walking through my process in future blog posts.

Subscribe to the blog (via RSS or email). Sign up for my newsletter (launching in early 2013).

Drop me an email and let me know what questions you have about discovering and building your brand.

 

And in the meantime, pop these questions on the back burner or your brain and let them simmer a while:

  • What do you stand for? Give it to me in three words.
  • What promise do you make to your customers? Be specific.
  • What are your guiding principles? What’s non-negotiable?
  • What’s your story really about?

Chew on that and I’ll see you on the other side.

 

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 Image from Photobucket

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