September 17, 2013

Is Your Brand in Trouble?

It’s without doubt one of the hardest questions you can ask yourself—especially in a still-reeling economy and strapped budget—but if you haven’t done so this year already, now is the time to ask: “Is your brand in trouble?”

You may not know if your brand is in trouble. And that’s OK, because there are a few quick ways to find out. To begin, do the following:

  • Perform a Google search for a few phrases that sum up your core competencies. For example, “organic vegetables,” “refurbished IT parts,” “19th century furniture” or “beach resorts.” Then see if you can find your website. Is it on the first page of search results? The second? Can you even find it? Perhaps, more importantly, where does your number one competitor rank compared to you?
  • Take a look at your website. Do you have clear calls to actions? Do you have anything gated? Is your homepage compelling enough for even you to click on the scrolling image carousel?
  • Click on your blog (if you don’t have a blog, your first step is to create one). When was the last post? Two months ago? Two weeks ago? Does every blog title start with your company name (in other words, is your blog 100 percent company-centric)?
  • Use tools like Social Mention, Twitalyzer and Trackur to gauge customer sentiment surrounding your brand. By typing in your company name to the search bar, you can monitor the real-time social chatter about your brand. Is anyone even talking about your brand? Is consumer sentiment positive?

If you answered “No” to any of these questions, then yes, your brand is in trouble. Not only is your corporate identity weak and your brand awareness limited but you are also getting swallowed by cyberspace and your competitors.

At Content Marketing World, the leading content marketing event that took place last week from Sept. 9-11, Don E. Schultz, professor emeritus-in-service at Northwestern University, wasn’t afraid to let the thousands of audience members know that their brands, or their clients’ brands, were in trouble.

As he put it, “Whatever we are doing and however we are doing it, is somehow not penetrating, breaking through nor differentiating.”

“That’s a major issue because you cannot get any type of premium pricing, you can’t demand premium location in stores and, more importantly, you can’t demand anything if consumers say they are all the same,” he added.

That similar sentiment was expressed by many of the keynotes and breakout session leaders throughout the week, as leading content marketers contended that brand strategy and content marketing are more important than ever but many companies’ efforts are proving futile.

So how do you get your brand out of trouble? By first figuring out where you went wrong in the first place.

According to Schultz, the first place that many brands go wrong is in forgetting that they have a story to tell. As marketers, we have gotten so caught up in offering the best “gimmicks, gizmos, apps and deals” that we have lost sight of the fact that consumers buy brands because of stories and not because of deals. To avoid this, make sure that your brand is thinking like a consumer, instead of a marketer.

Below are a few tips to get your brand out of the hot water:

  1.  Have a Strategy: Even if that strategy is to start from scratch, have a clear outline of where you want to take your brand. Maybe you want to be number one on the search results for “financial advising.” Or perhaps you want to grow your Twitter presence from 100 followers to 1,000. No matter your goal, have a clear idea of where you want to take your brand.
  2.  Embrace Failure: Instead of investing even more marketing dollars into a pursuit that has been largely useless, don’t be afraid to embrace failure. As put so succinctly by Vice President of Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence Jonathan Mildenhall of the Coca-Cola company at Content Marketing World, “Companies who don’t have room to fail, don’t have the right to grow.”
  3.  Try Something New: And that “something new” should be telling your story. The beauty of content marketing is that you are able to organically sell your company through the dissemination of custom, tailored copy. Your new marketing venture for the remainder of 2013 should be to spend a bit more time honing your blog strategy and content creation with the hopes of augmenting your brand awareness, boosting your thought leadership, and driving web traffic.

Industry analysts may be predicting that that vast majority of brands are in trouble, but that doesn’t mean that yours has to remain in an insecure environment.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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