Finding the Right Ingredients and the Right Mix Takes Time, Resources and Commitment
About the same time that our kids were old enough to be trusted with using the stove, they came up with the concept of "eggsperimentation."
They pitched the idea as a way of making Sunday morning breakfasts special while showing their gratitude and giving us a reward for making it though yet another long, hard week. We suspected and then quickly realized that eggsperimentation was more of a way of using Mom and Dad as convenient targets for expressing their creative cooking instincts.
Eggs, pineapple, and relish. Eggs, garlic, and cool whip. Eggs, leftover fried beans, and raison bran. Eggs, hamster pellets, and bacon.
Actually, that last one wasn’t too bad.
Maybe it’s time for some eggsperimentation in the way you’re building your firm’s branding, visibility and awareness. What’s in your firm’s marketing fridge and pantry?
When Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Aren’t Enough
In B2B marketing, the visibility of your company plays a huge role in meeting new business growth goals. When you’re known or when you get found online, you’re on your way to moving a prospect through your sales funnel.
There’s little argument that that word-of-mouth and referrals are the gold standards of brand building, and if these alone are sufficient to help you meet your new business goals, then perhaps investing in a mix of awareness tactics may not be the right approach for your company.
So, we are writing this blog for firms that don’t believe that word-of-mouth and referrals are enough in and of themselves to do the heavy lifting of getting your firm to be top-of-mind among prospects in your market and getting to a place where you can enjoy a position of being considered a “go to” firm to help your clients and prospects with their issues, problems, or needs.
Raising your firm’s visibility and awareness amongst a host of competitors requires an investment of budget, time, and firm resources, a “just right” mix of different tactics (ingredients), and a willingness to be forever curious about how to be better.
What’s in the Recipe?
We’ve always been a proponent of a firm's employing, integrating, and weaving a mix of different strategies and tactics to get more visibility and awareness, build their brand, and get prospects to raise their hand when looking for a solution.
In a previous blog (“Should Your Firm’s Marketing Budget be Built for Branding or Lead Generation?”), we discussed how to balance a budget between spending on branding versus spending on lead generation, but we want to go a bit deeper in this blog post and discuss the different tactics—ingredients for your branding recipe, if you will—that can be or should be mixed into your firm’s efforts to get more visibility and awareness:
- Interpersonal: This covers a wide range of possible activities, from networking and socializing to participating in charitable or civic organizations like Rotary. Every single person on your staff should be required to carry the firm banner into these types of organizations—it’s good for you, it’s good for the cause, and it’s good for the staffer’s soul.
- Trade associations: We are big believers in fishing where the fish are, and for any B2B business, there’s no greater pool than relevant trade associations. Notice we use the word “relevant” because where we’d like to see you put your time and energy (and funds) into are in associations that your prospects belong to—not your industry’s associations.
- Advertising: If you think that advertising is dead, particularly as a means for raising your firm’s visibility and awareness, we urge you to think again—the amount of money going into paid advertising for brand building has never been greater. From traditional paid media to banner ads to retargeting to the explosion of different ways that social media companies are trying to separate owners from their dollars, you have more choice than ever before to pay a third party to carry your brand standard into the market.
- Public relations: We are a HUGE fan of public relations and throughout our career, we’ve used PR as a key part of the branding strategies we’ve built. Knowing that media companies are always hungry for fresh content is excellent motivation to craft an innovative and comprehensive PR strategy, and the best ones we’ve seen (and built) have been so much more than putting out a press release on promotions. If you’re not using PR in your brand development mix, we urge you to talk to 3 or 4 PR firms to get an idea of what they can being to the table.
- Social media: If you aren’t investing in social media to get your firm more visibility and awareness, then you may be ignoring the greatest shift in marketing since the invention of the postage stamp and direct mail. There are volumes of articles available on the web about social marketing, but one of my favorites is from The Content Factory, called "16 Reasons Why Your Business NEEDS Social Media Marketing." You can read this article here.
- Inbound marketing and SEO: Firms looking for solutions to problems or issues they have search the web for vendors, and if you want to get found first, then you need to invest in Search Engine Optimization and other facets of an inbound marketing program. You can find a lot of resources about best in class inbound marketing practices here.
- Content marketing featuring a blog: In the B2B world, there’s not a better strategy for raising firm visibility and awareness that we know of than packaging and promoting a firm’s thought leadership in the form of content. This is truly the most effective way of achieving competitive differentiation, and a foundational element for realizing strategic objectives like getting found first, building personal brands, and generating leads.
Try Your Own Eggsperiment
There’s no guidance or rule of thumb that we know of that will help you precisely calculate what needs to go into your recipe of different visibility/awareness tactics, the precise measurement and mix of ingredients, and the budget allocation necessary for bring that recipe to the table.
It’s always going to be a matter of trial, measurement, retrial and eventually, seeing what works and what doesn’t work toward helping you achieve your branding goals.
You’ll need to go through a lot of “eggsperimentation” to find the right combination and spending levels, but don’t be afraid to continually test your curiosity. You might be surprised to find that banana peppers and honey are essential for a tasty omelet… or not.