When my wife and I owned our advertising firm, many of our customers struggled to understand the difference between marketing, branding, advertising, and public relations. So, let me start by explaining the difference.
The strategy your business uses to reach your target market that includes branding, advertising, and public relations.
The goal of marketing is to deliver a specific message to your “Ideal Customer.”
The emotions, feelings, and perceptions your customers have about your organization, products, and services. Elements of branding include logo, style, color, typeface, tone of message, photography, and the design of every aspect of your business. The key to branding is consistency; you want your brand to look and feel the same across various media platforms.
The goal of branding is to create loyalty among your target customers.
Paid messaging designed to persuade people to do business with you that includes print advertising, radio, billboards, magazines, trade shows, events, social media, direct mail, specials, discounts, loyalty programs, and more.
The goal of advertising is to increase sales.
This is typically “non-paid” promotions about your business and brand that include press releases, awards, articles written about your business/product/services, supporting local charities, speeches, interviews, and more.
The goal of public relations is to foster positive affiliations with your organization.
Examples of strong brands:
Each of these brands has strong emotions, history, imagery, reputation, and extremely loyal customers. For many of these organizations, their brand’s value exceeds the total value of the actual company!
Good branding can help build the loyalty, word-of-mouth referrals, revenues, and profitability of your business. In contrast, a bad brand image can destroy your business.
Be brutally honest.
What is the current brand of your business?
If I were to talk to some of your current customers and potential customers, what, specifically, would they say about your business?
What are the actual words that you would use to describe your business to someone else?
Here are a few areas for you to explore. What would people say about…
- Your facilities: clean, attractive, good location, easy to find what you need, and a welcoming atmosphere or dirty, disorganized, confusing, and uncomfortable.
- Your employees: professional, courteous, excellent customer service, strong product knowledge, clean and well-groomed appearance, and wearing an approved “uniform” or sloppy, unprofessional, little to no product knowledge, wearing whatever they want to, and indifferent to customers.
- Your advertising: professional, consistent, attractive, and persuasive or aggressive, pushy, and focused mostly on low price.
- Your reputation in the community: friendly, good community citizen, supports local charities, and a good representative of the business community or not well known, does not support local charities, and not involved in the local business community.
If I were to ask your current customers to describe your business in six words or less, what would they say?
What would you love for your customers and potential customers to say about your business in a perfect world?
Now, to see how well you are doing against how you perceive your brand, I challenge you to go to several of your best customers and ask them this question:
Why, specifically, do you do business with us? What are the top three or four reasons you chose our company?
After you talk to several of your ideal customers, a pattern will emerge. That pattern is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), the reason they buy from you instead of your competition. Once you have identified your USP, it should become the focus of all your marketing, branding, advertising, and public relations.
To sum it up:
- A great product with lousy marketing is unknown in the marketplace.
- A lousy product with great marketing destroys customer trust, and the brand
- A great product with a solid marketing strategy that is consistent, clear, and based on the USP is a fundamental element of creating a successful business.