How to Use Your Digital Marketing Budget for More than Lead Generation
Earning your company’s brand - and I do mean earning – is not particularly easy. It requires investments of time and resources. It’s more of a marathon than a sprint. It needs a weave of strategy and tactics. It needs attention, consistency and persistence.
And at the end of the day, it’s not so much about what you say about your company that drives your brand reputation as it is about what your customers and prospects perceive and say about you.
Both positively and negatively.
Building Blocks of Branding
Over the years, I’ve built a significant number of branding strategies, mostly for professional service firms, but the lessons I’ve learned apply equally as well to all types of B2B companies, B2C companies and NFP organizations.
I believe that the building blocks of branding include visibility, corporate identity, consistency, brand ambassadorship, differentiation, thought leadership, always being helpful, and customer/prospect experience. The responsibilities for building, monitoring and managing these blocks fall over many different departments and functions, but a lot of brands fail (or fail to launch) because of poor branding executions, inattention by management, or too much emphasis on any block instead of a well-balanced branding effort.
For example, how many times have you been disappointed with the experience you’ve had as a customer, and how has that disappointment translated into your perception of a company or brand? Or, I’ve seen marketers push their companies to spend tens of thousands of dollars on vanity marketing because they believe that branding is mostly built upon corporate identify tactics and executions.
Even though many definitions of branding focus on tangible aspects (a product, a logo, a slogan, etc.), according to Marcus Varner writing on Workforce’s Blog (The Five Building Blocks of an Effective Brand Promise) “things get hazy when you ask marketers for their definition. The overwhelming consensus is that a brand goes beyond the tangible.”
Heidi Cohen in her blog post, Thirty Branding Definitions, says that “in today’s social, customer-controlled world, marketers may be spending their money to build a brand. But they don’t own it. In their influential book, Groundswell, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff state “your brand is whatever your customers say it is…”
What Role Does Digital Marketing Play in Branding and Brand Experience?
Digital marketing plays a role in each of the building blocks seen in the graphic, albeit to different degrees. For example, a customer’s experience and brand ambassadorship may be more related to interpersonal interactions. Or, differentiation may be executed digitally, but starts with research, strategic thinking and planning.
Here’s a brief overview and a few ideas of how and where digital marketing can play a role in branding:
To get more visibility: content strategy featuring owned, earned and paid media
To create a corporate identity: website, templated emails and newsletters. (See the digital marketing trifecta graphic).
To become more consistent: content publishing schedule, workflow, marketing automation
Turning staff into brand ambassadors: CRM, workflows and automation, blogging
Differentiation: execution of content strategy
Becoming a thought leader: blogging, whitepapers, video, podcasts, etc.
Helpful: CRM, automation, blogging, whitepapers, video, podcasts, etc
Delivering a wonderful customer/prospect experience: CRM, content strategy featuring deliverables for all stages of the sales funnel
Branding Takes a Lot More Than Just Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is a complement to, and not a replacement for 1:1 interactions and other traditional means of establishing a brand identity like involvement in a trade association, public speaking, sponsorships, community involvement and a variety of other strategies and tactics.
All of these need to be considered when developing a branding strategy and plan. When building that plan, it’s also critically important to identify and fund the infrastructure and resources required and allocated to both brand building and lead generation. Our complimentary checklist can help you to this end.
You might also want the services of an experienced consultant to help you with your brand building planning and execution. If you would like to talk about your brand and branding building blocks, connect with me here, or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.