I attended a leadership conference recently where the incomparable Kat Cole talked about using what she called the “hotshot rule” to fight complacency and position yourself as a leader in your business or organization.
Here’s how it works: Once a quarter, Cole would go somewhere quiet, think about the state of the company and ask herself: "Let's say a hotshot takes over my job today. What two or three things would the hotshot look at and say, 'That's unacceptable'?"
While Cole presented this primarily as a personal leadership development tool, this approach is easily transferrable to your marketing and branding programs.
Imagine an up and coming marketing rock star were to take over your job tomorrow – what are the things she would do to get a grip on your marketing program and measure the strength of your brand? What would make her pause and wonder why you were spending your money on that?
Putting yourself into this scenario on a regular basis will help you bring your branding A-game and ensure that you’re not drifting into marketing complacency.
Here are a few exercises you can conduct on a regular basis to start adapting this mindset:
Take a close look at all your external collateral materials and assess whether they are representative of your brand. Do the materials look like they are coming from the same company? Is it clear what the overall brand position is? Put yourself into your customers’ shoes – what would their lasting impression of your brand be after reviewing the materials? Most people are pretty surprised to see the wide variety of messaging, graphic standards and design across all materials.
A strong brand starts from the inside. Your team – especially those employees who have direct contact with your customers – should be able to articulate succinctly what your brand is and what you promise to deliver day in and day out. Step into the hallway and ask the next 5-10 people you see if they can tell you what your brand promise is. If you’re met with blank stares you know you’ve got some work to do.
Pull together a list of the top 5 most effective marketing tactics based on return on investment. Where are you getting the most bang for your buck? If you can’t answer this question with a large degree of confidence, it’s time to implement some more aggressive measuring and tracking tools for your marketing program.
To be an effective marketer, you really need to know who you’re talking to. So ask yourself: How often and through what channels do my customers want to interact with and experience my brand? Map out those different stages and then cross-reference your marketing tactics to ensure you’re reaching your audience at the stages most important to them.
Whether or not you get a chance at the new customer’s business is determined by the strength of your brand and how it compares to the brand of others that are in consideration. That’s why it’s critical to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. Make a list of all your competitors. Visit their websites and review any marketing materials you can find in the marketplace. Try and pull together the list in the same way a potential customer would. Search online, consider any print, radio or TV ads you’ve seen, and don’t forget direct marketing techniques. How does their position compare with yours? How can you make your brand look better?
Those are just a few things you can do on a regular basis to fight complacency and ensure you’re the marketing and branding hotshot we know you are! If you need any more insights, just give us a shout!