Some would argue that it has never been tougher for a business to market their products and services. Not only are businesses faced with shrinking budgets, they are also having to keep up with a fast-changing market as well as having to prove a return on their marketing or branding investment.
One person who knows these challenges all too well is Leigh-Anne Acquisto.
Acquisto is a brand behaviour specialist and director of Liquorish Ink, a strategic communications consultancy. Her agency is the one that businesses approach when they are looking for marketing strategies to boost their brands.
Acquisito has 15 years developing brands within some of the biggest organisations across the continent including work on the Trillion Dollar Campaign, one of the most awarded campaigns in the history of the international advertising showcase, Cannes Lions.
Today it’s about defining how a brand’s value set and positioning translate into behaviour, says Acquisto.
“It really is less about what you say and more about what you do and how you do it”
“At the end of the day brands need to deliver an experience and that experience is influenced by a number of internal and external factors. Defining how a brand should behave at these various touch points ensures that one experience is delivered across all touch points.”
Acquisitio shares the marketing insider knowledge that all SMEs should know and the lessons that SMEs can learn from big corporates.
‘The rule is that there are no more rules’
The biggest changes for brands is that there really aren’t hard and fast rules anymore but rather an operating environment that is built around relationships. We’ve come from a place where brand owners were in control. They controlled what was said, when it was said and how it was said and were able to craft great stories that positioned their brands positively.
We are now in a place where the consumer is in control. What this means is that brand owners can still craft their stories but consumers are now demanding to be involved. With that things like transparency, community, conversation, collaboration and personalisation take center stage. So it really is less about what you say and more about what you do and how you do it.
‘It takes attention, insight, clear direction and balls to build a resilient brand in today’s fast-changing landscape’
I think for far too long brands have predominantly relied on creative executions to anchor themselves into communities. This is no longer enough.
You need to know your market better than you ever have before. You need to tailor not only your conversations, but your offering to target specific wants, needs etc. On top of that you need to be in constant conversation with your market on the relevant platforms that appeal to them.
Most brands are very good at gathering information but not that great at extrapolating real insights out of the data. And very few are brave enough to try things or experiment based on that insight.
Gone are the days when strategies get written at the beginning of the year and assessed at the end, markets are changing so fast that continual assessment is required, as well as the agility to change course if your market changes.
‘Very few products or services are unique – it’s important you stand out’
At the end of the day, People have choices, which is a good and a bad thing. While it offers variety it also means complexity. The brands that get it right understand that people expect their brand to offer simplicity and to play a higher order emotional role in their lives.
‘If you do nothing else’
Get closer to your customer!
“The brands that get it right understand that people expect their brand to offer simplicity and to play a higher order emotional role in their lives”
‘Expect ROI for your branding efforts’
Let’s be honest, at the end of the day it’s about sales. Companies invest in their brands as a means of getting consumers to buy something from them. So this would be the first thing I would look at.
Secondly, recommendations or referrals. Word of mouth is the greatest indication that you are getting it right, not only is it more credible than advertising but it’s also a hell of a lot cheaper.
‘Learn this from big corporates’
Firstly, I think what corporates are doing well is that they understand how all the different elements of branding work together to deliver an experience. Your engagement as a consumer is never linear and every person/platform in the organisation contributes, in some way or another, to how that experience is delivered.
Secondly, they understand that their role as a brand goes beyond being a purveyors of products. They need to become part of the communities they serve, in a way that is relevant and that makes sense to them and their customers.
Lastly, I’d say look at the new kids on the block, like UBER, AirBnB, SnapChat, WAZE. None of them relied on traditional marketing or advertising to enter a market yet have very quickly become very successful.
How to put together a strategy that works
– Have a definite goal in mind.
– Understand and define how your brand can solve a problem in peoples lives. It’s not about what you offer per se but what that means to people, what role it plays in their lives.
– Be realistic about what you can afford. Traditional marketing efforts are expensive, you need to look at new ways of engaging your markets that are cost effective and will deliver the desired result.
– Don’t estimate how much work it takes to get it right. Building a relationship is hard work. The worst thing they can do is start engaging their markets and then stop because they don’t have the time or the resources.
– Define what success looks like at the outset.