Your marketing team devotes endless resources to building a better brand for your company in the marketplace. But too often, you lack a clear strategy for managing what cannot be controlled–i.e., the chatter about you in social media, the news media, Wikipedia, and other non-advertising places where your company is discussed.
Following are 5 strategies that a company should implement to build a better brand, one that people trust.
- Understand the difference between managing and controlling your brand. If you are a small-to-mid-sized business, you should probably spend 80% of your time managing your brand, and the other 20% on advertising and messaging that you create. Too many small-to-mid-sized businesses agonize over the content on their website, their blog posts, their newsletters, and don’t pay enough attention to their perception in the chatter world. Craft your key messages, choose your key words, create your ads (wherever you are placing them), get them out there and leave them alone. Turn your attention to where your brand is being discussed.
- Integrate what people are saying about you into your brand. Make sure you facilitate input from the chatter world by engaging on social media and soliciting feedback. Listen, and then join the discussion. Do not try to guide or lead it. Do customers talk about your brand the way you want them to? If not, perhaps you need to integrate what they are saying into your brand, rather than attempting to get them to see it as you want them to. Once you have rebranded with this new information, you can go back to your ads and revise them accordingly.
- Never argue with the chatter world about your brand. Ignore, or listen and learn. When managing your brand, it never pays to get into a fight with a critic. You cannot control what they are saying about you. But you can amplify the negativity by arguing with them. Restaurateurs who get into online battles over Yelp! reviews are the classic example of this self-defeating reaction to criticism. Any public facing business will have its critics. Ignore the trolls who just want a reaction. Listen especially to critics who have a legitimate gripe. No business is perfect. But successful ones identify weaknesses and fix them. An authentic critic can help you build a better brand.
- Manage the elements that matter most to your brand. You need to know where the discussion about your brand is worth managing, and where you are wasting too many resources on too few influencers. When small-to-mid-sized companies “discover” branding, they tend to launch into a frenzied assault across all platforms. OMG — what are we saying on Twitter? Are we on Instagram yet? Has that new landing page on the website been finished? When do we launch our first webinar? How’s that Wikipedia article coming along? Generally, these companies have not tested ANY of those platforms, except randomly. Platform response varies greatly depending upon the product or service you offer. For instance, if you are offering content management services, there’s only so much Instagram can do to help boost sales. You need to be where eyeballs searching for content creators lurk — and nowhere else. If your target audiences are not there, don’t waste resources on it.
- Make sure your advertising messaging accurately reflects your brand reputation in the marketplace. You can totally control your advertising content, so make sure you revise it based on what you learn about your brand from the chatter world. For example, if your advertising campaign is based on being the low-cost solution when people in the chatter world are praising your quality, it’s time to switch that message — and raise prices. If Millennials online are embracing you but your ads target Baby Boomers, it’s time to revise the message. Never stick with an advertising campaign that is out of synch with what people are actually saying about you. Even ongoing strong sales can be misleading. Especially if your direct competitor makes the shift first.