In 2014 I wrote an article posted in the Business Guide on Controlling your Brand. I then proceeded to do several speaking engagements on the topic to help local businesses better understand what integrating technology into the marketing mix would need to look like and involve. I would like to share that article with you here as it answers some pivotal questions we address daily as business consultants.

Use Marketing and Advertising to take CONTROL of your image

Believe it or not, every company has a brand image to uphold. From large firms that span the country to smaller firms that are more local or even start ups, and every size in between, it is your responsibility as a business owner to understand what your brand says to people and how you use that understanding to educate people on that message through your marketing strategy. To get into this we first need to understand the difference between marketing and advertising and how they can be leveraged to control your digital brand.

First, here is a look at the definitions of marketing and advertising as they are defined by Merriam-Webster.com and as they are being taught in universities across the country today:

Marketing is defined as the activities that are involved in making people aware of a company’s products/services and  making sure that the products/services are available for purchase. This typically refers to sharing a message, vision, mission, and culture as well as the products and services offered to the general public. This creates an overall awareness of one’s company and offerings. We often see this in webdesign, social media management, print materials, trade shows, company signage, etc.

Advertising is defined as the action of calling something to the attention of the public, particularly by paid announcements. This covers broadcast announcements that we would see on TV, hear on the radio, read in a magazine, and even see as a sponsored links or pop up graphical ads on Facebook or even Google. They are used to sell and promote a specific product or service for the purpose of converting the visitor into a paying client. Marketing and advertising are often used to generate sales leads and interest to help narrow down the scope of possible customers. This makes the job for a sales rep far easier to produce closed business in some cases as the scope of the sale is highly targeted.

Determining Budgets

When developing a budget for the promotion of your organization and its goods or services, we have to keep in mind that each of these areas require attention to develop an effective long-term strategy. It helps to identify your business budget and then determine the percent growth you would like to experience over the coming year.

That percent growth is directly related to the percent of the business budget that should be allotted in each category for the coming year. When a budget is planned this way,it becomes fluid, making it easier to adjust to changes in the economy. Oftentimes it is important to review the budget and the results of the campaign quarterly or even monthly to be sure it is staying on target for desired results.

Perspective Client Perception

How do we determine the target for results? There use to be a very clear cycle in business and marketing that started with surveying potential customer to identify need, which leads into research and development of products and services, then the development of said products and services, followed by a project completion survey of the customer discovering how to make that product or service even better.

This is a similar pattern to identifying where your perspective customer holds your organization in their minds eye. We all like to believe there is no competition because we are unique in everything we do, but if our customers don’t know what those differences are, the company gets held in the same space as others who offer similar products and services.

One step in controlling your brand is to identify if your unique qualities are clearly conveyed to your perspective clients. This also comes into play with the development of the product or service working to create Blue Oceans and eliminate competition by changing the conversation and creating key components to the product or service that do something the industry has never seen before. This allows that companies unique qualities to be easily seen and understood by perspective clients.

This separates you in the minds of the clients as the organization to do business with.

Who is your Ideal Client?

We as business owners need to have a clear understanding of who our ideal client is. Let me explain through an example, if you have a skin care company, not everyone who has skin is a client or perspective client.

There are niche markets that are (1) more likely to buy from you than others and (2) you enjoy working with more than others. The key to finding the target market, is to find the commonality of 1 and 2. Understanding who those people are allows you to create custom messaging, imagery, and ads that speak to those people.

Auditing your Results

Step 3 in the controlling of your digital brand is to audit what is in place. Are you reaching your desired market? Are they thinking of you in ways that you want them to? If you answer no to either or both questions, reconsider your ad messaging, and your ad placement.

Was your ad placed next to a company that you view as less credible or reputable than yours? That could have a negative effect on your return and overall brand image.

In Conclusion

Marketing is more than just having the right message. It really comes down to understanding you customer’s needs and wants. Once you get that, your message and image will fall in place to reflect those desires (with the right designer at the drawing board).

Monitoring placement will help you maintain control over the perception of your organization in the eyes of your perspective client. Always be sure your messages is placed in the right target market that you are trying to reach – and if possible near a company with equal or grater perceived brand positioning – for your clients. This will subconsciously lead to increased credibility to your organization.

The goal of every campaign and every dollar spent in marketing and advertising is to increase you bottom line at the end of the year.

Please join the conversation, and as always, thanks for reading!