MindFire Communications, Inc.
Getting it right
June 10, 2008 | Inga Rundquist

It’s all about communicating the right message to the right person in the right place at the right time.

That’s a lot of variables to get right. And it’s so important to get it right – because, until you do, you’re probably wasting a lot of your marketing budget.

Without it, great creative can be a money-sucking black hole. With it, your creative work breaks through the clutter, gets noticed – and most importantly – acted upon.

Getting it right means really knowing who your customer is. What your customer wants from you. Why that customer chose to do business with your company over your competitors.

What’s the most compelling reason for customers to buy what you’re selling? If you can’t define it, neither can they. And if that single best reason isn’t front and center on everything that touches the customer, it’s going to be very hard to build a brand – or a business.

Determining your brand is hard work. And nothing is more important.

Your brand is the aggregation of every prospect or customer interaction with your company that creates an impression. It’s not just a logo or an advertisement - it’s the personality and soul of a company. It’s what makes you unique and why people buy from you.

Behind the scenes, it’s what the entire marketing industry is desperate to make happen. With luck. But you don’t need as much luck if you have insight.

That insight needs to come from a variety of perspectives, both inside and outside your company.

If your brand is the aggregation of every prospect or customer interaction with your company that creates an impression, then you really need to understand what kind of impression you’re making.

Think about all the ways customers and prospects can come into contact with your company. That might include touch points like your web site, automated phone system, storefront or office, sales people, front-line customer services representatives (cashiers, tellers, technicians, etc.), business cards, service vehicles, company brochure, sales literature, and advertising, just to name the obvious ones.

Then take a close look at what these brand touch points are communicating.  Look at the consistency of the visual aspects of your brand. Do all of your materials look like they came from the same company? If not, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Look at your brand messaging. Do you have a consistent key message that is evident across all communications? Consistency is critical for brand building.

The best way to determine what kind of impression you’re making on your customers and prospects is to ask them. Conduct brand research and really listen to what they have to say. Ask them why they choose to work with you, who they see as your top competitors and why, and how you could better meet their needs.

Your brand research will help you identify the right brand promise, positioning and key messages. Other information resources, including your advertising agency, can help you determine the right person, the right place and the right time.

Once you have all of these building blocks in place, you’re finally ready to start thinking about your creative execution. Great creative work is effective creative work. If you clearly understand your brand and know how to communicate it in an authentic and consistent way, you are more likely to see a good return on your marketing investment.

Communicating the right message to the right person in the right place at the right time is very challenging. But it’s the most foolproof way to make sure you get a strong return on your marketing investment.

- Lynn Manternach, Ph.D. This article originally appeared in the Tree Full of Owls column in the Corridor Business Journal.

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