Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Brand Strategy Reminders, Regardless of the Size of Your Company

There was something for everyone at MassTLC's recent marketing seminar - "On Brand: What Does it Take?"; if you're building a brand at a $1B+ company like PTC, or fighting your way up the ladder at a smaller company like Actifio or Verivo Software. Here are some of my keys take-aways:

1.  Something for everyone to learn (or to be reminded of)
  • You need buy-in from executives:  The CEO and his/her team need to admit that there's a problem with your brand strategy, and they're on-board to fix it.
  • Be realistic about the costs involved in branding:
    • "The rule of thumb that we used was 2.5X the cost of our marketing investment over a 5 year period."[Jill St. George, PTC]
    • Brand investment is even more critical today with the more mature Buyer 2.0. IDC recommends 50% of all marketing investment be spend on awareness building.
    • Launch activities will touch many aspects of your customer creation process (e.g., collateral, web site, presentations, videos, training)
  • Set targets for your branding effort
    • "Prior to our rebranding effort, only 40% of our company understood our brand.  Our target penetration is 75%."[PTC]
    • "# analyst briefings, web site activity metrics, social metrics"[Parna Sarkar-Basu, Verivo]
    • "increase in revenue per sales rep, time to rep. productivity, # and quality of inbound leads"[Michael Troiano, Acitifio]
  • Don't forget about the importance of keeping sales in the equation!
    • "Stay close to sales!  They can make or break you." [Actifio]
    • Include sales executives and sales operations on your team
  • Tell it with stories:  Nothing speaks louder or sticks with influencers and buyers more than a good, relevant story.  Drop the MBA speak and industry terminology that all of your competitors have, and capture the essence of your company and value it provides in a story.  And most importantly, get your entire organization to communicate these stories. 
2.  Large companies
  • Strive to be a "branded house" and not a "house of brands":  As Jill St. George from PTC pointed out, managing a company with many disparate brands can be significantly more costly than having a single, corporate brand.  And certainly let's not forget the confusion that a house of brands brings to your sales teams and customers as you're attempting to expand your market share and share of wallet at specific customers.
  • Leverage your resources: PTC outsourced much of their brand strategy and design work (e.g., customer and employee interviews, surveys, design work) to Lippincott.  A smart move for any large company in order to rapidly leverage resources versus trying to support this type of significant effort internally, not to mention the expertise that can be attained by working with this type of firm.
  • Align your branding strategy with your sales enablement strategy: Particularly in large organizations, your key to success will be rolling out a 1 to many strategy, and your sales enablement team(s) in marketing and sales can help here.
3.  Small companies
  • Time is of the essence!  The good news is that you don't have as much to do as a larger company in rebranding your organization.  The bad news is that you don't have as much time or resources to accomplish your goals.  Think "months", not "years".
  • Stay connected at the hip with your sales team:  Go on sales calls with the reps, if they like it or not. Test out your ideas, messages and stories with different folks on the sales team.
  • Align your metrics with the company's and sales' targets. There's little time, resources or patience for brand studies, brand awareness metrics or market share analyses at a small company.  Hard line your team's metrics into sales productivity, sales pipeline and revenue targets.
Please share your thoughts below, or email me at Michael Gerard.

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