Nothing ever gets sold without some form of communication, however basic. I believe that this is a key function of marketing. Answering the questions of what it is that we NEED to communicate, to whom and by what means – not to mention how best to hear what our audience has to say. Marketing is the process of reaching a clarity of vision and consistency of approach aided by creative solutions that are servants to that end, not ends in themselves however entertaining.
Big brands like Budweiser, BMW and Apple do this religiously, spending serious budget and resource making sure that every aspect of brand communication is a consistent expression of what they and their products are all about. They don’t produce products that don’t fit that vision, sell them in places that don’t conform or use advertising content or channels that don’t fit the message. They are the mighty spacecruisers of the Brand space fleet. Of course any fleet comprises many different size and shape of vessels and their ‘firepower’ varies accordingly.
This level of discipline and focus can be applied whatever the size of business or resource available. From Gerald Ratner rubbishing the quality of the jewellery sold in his shops to disastrous rants on Twitter, we have all seen the damage that can be done when businesses large or small forget the need to stay ‘in brand character’. The micro business is just as much at risk of a sudden absence of business after making tasteless or personal remarks on Facebook or Twitter as the corporation who farms out social media to junior staff or an agency without making it clear the tone of voice and range of subject to be covered. There is a need to have an awareness of who ones customers are, their needs and expectations. Actions that don’t fit these expectations will confuse customers and create doubt and a likelihood that they will look for a more comforting brand relationship elsewhere.
Once a business has gone through the process of assessing what it’s marketing proposition is, who it’s consumers are and identifying the key priorities, putting to one side the digressions and distractions, it can look at how best to reach them through the myriad means now available in this digital age.
How much effort and investment is put into marketing communication is going to be down to a blend of the right channels chosen for the proposition with the budget and people available to deliver it. For the smaller scale business the ability to promote themselves and mix it with their larger competitors has been dramatically enhanced by the growth of social media, Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin in particular and e-mail marketing. For relatively low cost the reach of the smaller business as well as its ability to get closer to its consumers has undergone a revolution. Like most revolutions how this will play out over time in such a swiftly changing environment is unclear. What is certain is that the genie isn’t going back in the bottle any time soon.
Nonetheless the increased opportunities presented by the internet and social media, not to mention traditional print and broadcast media, still rest on the fundamentals – clarity, a motivating message and production quality. A message littered with typos, poor grammar and poorly executed design will not inspire confidence in your brand. If it is not a core skill within the business it is better to outsource to someone who can deliver a quality result on your behalf rather than risk damage to your brand image through poor implementation.