The importance you place on each aspect of the marketing mix depends on your brand, your consumer, and your environment. So does the extent of which these tips apply to you. Below, find the ten ideas I believe to be, generally, the most important for brands right now. In no particular order.
1. High Ratio of PR:AD
This tip is usually a pretty good one regardless of your brand, consumer, or environment. It is important to put at least as much effort into your public relations, as you do your advertising. Especially during times of social upheaval and uncertainty.
People should respect that you’re a brand and still need to make sales. However, it is an easier pill to swallow when served with a good-sized glass of promotion-free content.
Even during the most pristine social, economical conditions: your PR content should exceed your AD content. Otherwise, you risk looking desperate and like you’re focused only on the money.
2. Listen to Your Consumer
This one goes without saying. Listen to your consumer. And respond.
Embed this ability for communication between you and those who buy from you, into your brand. Big brand’s pay a lot of money to get this kind of consumer insight, so if someone wants to offer it for free? Let them. And recognize the validity in their message.
The larger your organization, the harder it can be to maintain these efforts. Employ automated post-purchase surveys, but also encourage your face-of-the-brand employees to get a feel for this practice. Then innovate ways to collect that data.
3. Consistency IS Key
It can be hard to justify the spending on promotion when your income stream hasn’t quite stabilized. But the adage, “you’ve got to spend money, to make money,” rings true. You don’t have to spend more money; you can even seek out more cost-effective, or free, means of getting your message out there. Just don’t stop spreading it.
If you’re cutting on ad spend somewhere, make up for it by starting a new blog, additional social content, or newsletter-type email with an existing database.
A downturn in your business is usually not the time to scale back these efforts. In fact, it’s usually the time to step up your game. Take this time to reevaluate every aspect of your business and your brand. Where could you cut costs? How can you maximize your spending? Invest in the development of new products, or services, and fine-tune existing ones. Whether you’re too busy, or not busy enough.
While consistency is key, brands should always evolve. You don’t want to lose existing customers by changing drastically, but you also don’t want to lose them to a more advanced brand, or miss out on new ones.
It is important to adapt your brand; the products, services, and content you produce and provide. The outlets in which you are available. Part of growing your brand means adapting your day-to-day to optimize productivity and profitability. Perhaps you need to start investing in e-commerce. Maybe a second location, or just a different one altogether. Never ignore room for improvement. Listen to your consumer, they’ll tell you what they want.
Adaptable consistency, or consistent adaptability? I’ll accept either.
5. Explore Partnership Opportunities
We live in the age of the influencer. These can be highly effective relationships between brands and those with decent social followings (or power). These kinds of relationships exist on a wide spectrum. From full-blown sponsorship of elite celebrities, to providing free merchandise to micro-influencers.
Even partnering with other brands. Some organizations have yet to realize the power in combining their audience with those of other established companies, or individuals. And that is exactly the benefit to these kinds of partnerships. In exchange for access to your audience, or capital, you can get the same from a fair and worthy partner.
Like any brand related effort, these must be strategic and well planned. In addition to assuming your partner’s audience—you assume their liability. As successful as these partnerships can be, they can be equally as destructive when poorly managed and maintained.
6. Support Other Brands & Creators
Similar to the idea of exploring opportunity for partnerships, it is important to support other brands and creators. Probably not your direct competitors, but smaller brands and independent creators in your column could benefit from resources you might be able to provide.
If you’re a particularly large organization: create an academy for independent makers in your space. Or create a gallery for their content on your website or social media. You might not believe in positive karma, but you should certainly believe in public relations and earned media. In addition to partnering with influencers and adjacent brands to expand your own, make an effort to give back to those attempting to grow theirs.
7. Embrace Diversity & Inclusion
We’ve discussed it before, and we’ll discuss it again. Diversity and inclusion efforts are the way of the future and should be genuinely incorporated into every aspect of your organization. And brand. Your teams, your motivations, your message.
Like partnering with different brands and individuals, diversity and inclusion efforts allow you to access a wider audience. And network. Allow these efforts to be natural; to exist at the core of your brand, and your being.
8. Be Open & Honest
Transparency is key to a successful brand these days. Give your brand a natural tone and voice. One that consumers can build a relationship with. Allow them to see what it means to be a member of the [your brand] community.
Write copy that sounds and feels like your brand. Capture photography that provides unstaged, behind-the-scenes insight. People want to know more about the people and the processes behind the brands they buy from. If you aren’t sharing it, they’ll assume it’s shady.
Provide more than a product. Provide a story, a meaning, a purpose.
9. Be Creative
You can look at everything done in the industry so far and say, “well there isn’t really anything different I can do.” Or, you can look at everything done in the industry so far and say, “how can these efforts be improved upon?”
A lot of things have been done. A lot of things still haven’t been. Find comfort in your ability to work with tried and true concepts, but never stop exploring what’s beyond them. Test their limits, apply their theories in new ways. You never know what’s just beyond normal.
Don’t aim for it, but something proficient and unique is much more eye-catching than something exceptional and common.
10. Invest in Employee Relations
While last on this list, it should never take such a place on yours. Caring about your employees matters for so many reasons. It reduces turnover, attracts top talent, and ensures a much more productive workforce. And, it allows you to feel like a good person.
Work life balance should be an amenity to any position. Build teams, not hierarchal ladders. Pay a wage that you would feel comfortable living off of. Be open to comments and suggestions. Create an environment that fosters learning and growth, rather than intimidation and retaliation.
Make work a safe, exciting, and enjoyable experience in every way that you can. Happier staff are more productive staff. Respect and appreciate every member of your organization: from bottom to top.
If you could pick only one, which of these tips would you say is most important? What other tips and tricks do you have, that didn’t make this list?