Put your money where your brand mouth is

Benjaminby Tony Fannin, CEO/Partner, BE Branded  |

New technology and social media was seen as a Godsend by many marketers, the ability to market for FREE. Just make some noise on Facebook, post a viral video on YouTube, run a contest and let your customers make your advertising for free and use Tweetdeck to leverage the power of Twitter, sit back and watch the brand buzz explode. As a result, you should end up saving a ton of cash by not spending it on old-fashioned marketing and branding. Just let social media, technology and your customers do all the work.

Unfortunately for many marketers who took this approach, it didn’t turn out that way. Social media is becoming more crowed by the day. Too many people and brands are chattering and not really saying anything with meaning or value. New technology is great at what it’s supposed to do, but it is narrow in scope and changes every 3-4 months. And the “free” ads done by your customers? We’ll most of the winners end up being individual ad pros who are doing it to win the $100,000 cash prize and make a name for themselves so they can launch their own agency.

It still comes down to basics, to get the social media buzz and leverage new technology effectively, you need to create a clear, emotional brand message that reaches soul deep and it not just about the stuff you sell. Then, put marketing muscle behind it in the form of an effective budget.

Case in point, Taco Bell. In 2009, their brand message was directed at young males that relied on “crappy humor” (Taco Bell’s words). The message, “24-year old white guy being an idiot.” But, by 2012, they posted an 8.8% same-store sales increase, almost tripling McDonald’s (3.3% over the same period). What was behind the turn around?

• Clearing defining their market – By clearly defining your customer base, your brand will gain more traction and appeal. This keeps you from trying to please everyone. In Taco Bell’s case, the millennials we defined their most important customer base.

• Work hard to refine your brand message – This is the most important aspect of your marketing. You must define your messaging, not leave it up to others to tell you what it is, even your customers. Listen to them, yes. Let them control your brand, never. Taco Bell allowed others to control their brand and became a punch line for late night comedians.

• Invest in your brand marketing – It no one sees your brand, does it really exist? There must be budget power behind the brand message to make it meaningful to your customers and to your balance sheet. Taco Bell achieved their stellar sales increase by increasing their budget 12% each of the last three years. Their break down was: 70% in proven media (like TV), 20% in new media (digital, social) and 10% on media where they can “explore”. The point is, they didn’t buy into the “free social media” marketing campaign.

So, if you believe your brand has value and is worth spreading, then put your money where your brand is and prove it. Better yet, show the market your brand is worth their attention. If you don’t care, why should they?



About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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