Our confidential hotline answers questions you didn't want to have to ask.
What is a brand?
A brand is the basic building block of consumer choice. In a commodity-driven environment, price is the driver. If your company sells bags of sand, your commodity cost is your biggest concern. If your company sells bags of white sand gathered from Bermuda to luxury consumers for their zen gardens, you'd better be thinking about brand. Another way to think about it: note the difference between state-run liquor stores vs. privately-owned liquor stores. No need to guide consumer choice? No need to brand.
Why is branding important?
Our question to you: who creates your brand? The brain-bending answer is: your customers. Yes, you put the fundamental elements in place to encourage a certain brand feel, experience, value. But it is the consumer who makes the final call. It's everything people know about who you are, what you offer, and how you offer it. A brand exists in the mind. If what your brand conveys is clear and valuable to your customer, that's a great position to be in. Muddy brands confuse customers ("I don't get it, what do they sell?") and off-the-mark brands repel customers ("I would NEVER buy from THEM!") and lackluster brands bore customers ("Who?").
What's the difference between sales and marketing?
Sales is about the immediate; marketing takes a long view. An outside salesperson will adapt their pitch to the person in front of them to convert the sale. A marketing person thinks in quarterly, annual and 5-year timeframes. Ideally, a company uses closed-loop marketing, which means sales and marketing engage in continuous feedback, informing each other of what's working and what's not, and contributing equally to KPIs. A Sales Director and a Marketing Director have distinct work styles, so it's a possible danger sign if they're the same person in your company.
Is social media marketing really free? Do I have to pay for ads for it to work?
It's not possible to prescribe a generic marketing plan. Paid ads might be the key to thousands of new leads for you. Or they might be a complete waste of money. What we can tell you is that effective social media marketing includes an investment of time — certainly — and money, if you need to hire someone to manage the platform, design content strategy or produce content. We have never seen results from a social media account that wasn't given the proper development resources. Just having a business Facebook page and posting intermittently means nothing whatsoever. Worse, a social media account that is clearly ignored is probably damaging your brand. So, no, social media marketing isn't free. But, properly executed, it can be extremely cost-effective.
What is inbound marketing? I don't get it.
Imagine the cartoon version of a old-school door-to-door salesman. Demanding attention from unwilling targets, interruptive, pushy. That's traditional (outbound) marketing. Billboards interrupt your view, TV ads interrupt your show, direct mail clogs up your mailbox. Outbound is predicated on the idea that whatever is being said should be important to you, whether you think so or not. Inbound marketing is the opposite; it's invitational. It is available for you to find, if you're interested. Blog and social media posts are the most obvious examples. Inbound wants to know what challenges and goals customers have, and then it provides relevant resources. Inbound marketing recognizes that, in the digital age, the consumer is king. Sales reps no longer have a monopoly on information because people can easily educate themselves via the internet. Inbound marketing uses creative content, analytics, reporting and automated workflows to help craft a digital environment that your customers opt in to, building trust and establishing your company as an authority in its space. An audience that has asked you to speak to them is very valuable.
For answers to your other burning marketing questions, don't hesistate to reach out to us.