It’s time for digital transformation to decline and die
Why read this? : We look at the difference between what digital transformation should do, and what it actually does. Learn the real question which
Why read this? : We share 6 of our favourite marketing tips for improving the way you do marketing. These make up our marketing B.R.A.I.N.S model. B.R.A.I.N.S stands for Brand focus, Resilience, Analytical, Innovative, Not being an asshole, and Sales orientation. Read this for tips on how to put these marketing skills into action.
How this guide raises your game :-
1. Learn our 6 key marketing tips based on our marketing B-R-A-I-N-S model.
2. Read examples of how these behaviours and attitudes can grow your business.
3. Find out how to get the best out of people to make your marketing even better.
During our time working in marketing, we’ve been lucky to work with and learn from people who were true masters at the craft of marketing.
But we’ve also come across many people in marketing who should have chosen a different career.
So what makes great marketers stand out from the crowd? And what should you avoid doing, so marketing doesn’t bring out the worst in you?
To answer those, we’ve put together this short informal set of marketing tips to point you in the right direction.
Some areas to focus on to help you be an asset to your business. Rather than just be an ass. A lot of whom you’ll unfortunately find working in marketing.
See also our separate guide with more specific tips on digital marketing.
Like every good marketer, we want to make the message reinforce our brand identity. And it also needs to be unique, distinctive and memorable. That’s why we came up with the B.R.A.I.N.S. set of marketing tips :-
The process of marketing starts with the customer, but the value of it comes from building great brands.
Look at the BrandZ study we reference in our brand development process guide, for example.
Companies with strong brands outperform the average of all companies by over 40%.
Just think about that. Imagine what your business would feel like with a profit and loss that was 40% better. That’s a good ambition to have for marketing in your business.
But it’s not even just the sales performance of your business where brands play a role. That’s the end point.
When you have a strong brand, you also help your target audience out.
You make life easier for them, by making it easier to identify your brand, and work out what it does and what it can do for them. (Read more about this in our brand development guide).
But don’t be one of those marketers who thinks customers spend all day thinking about their brand. They don’t. Nobody other than brand managers spends all day thinking about brands.
But when you’ve built a strong brand identity with a clear positioning over a period of time and that brand identity turns into a strong mental connection with customers, then your marketing is doing its job. You’re make it easier for your target audience to choose you.
When that customer gets a promotion at work and wants to splash out on a luxury new car and the BMW, Audi or Mercedes logo pops into their head.
That’s great branding.
When that customer’s in a late night bar and can barely see the barman, never mind what’s behind the bar, but they know they can always order a Jack Daniels, a Bacardi or a Smirnoff because what bar doesn’t stock those brands?
That’s great branding, too.
And when that entrepreneur, small business owner or aspiring marketer is looking for amazing marketing coaching and consulting that will raise their game?
Well, they know to come to Three-Brains, obviously 😉 Hey, if we don’t promote ourself, no-one else will.
But we promise, that’s the only bit of self-promotion in this guide.
There’s no doubt you need a tough skin to work in marketing. Driving change is hard. Customers are fickle. And everyone has an opinion on marketing.
You need resilience to deal with those on a regular basis.
The marketer’s role is to find out customer needs, and organise, persuade and influence the rest of the business to meet those needs.
But typically, customer needs change more quickly than businesses do. As a marketer, you feel yourself constantly trying to drive change, and then spending a huge amount of time overcoming barriers to change. (see for example our articles on overcoming marketing barriers and barriers to e-Commerce).
Great marketers are usually creators.
They create new products, they create new experiences and they create a marketing mix that connects with customers. But in most business, there are many people who don’t create. They are critics and people who coast along.
People who tend to like things the way they are. Who want to protect the status quo. People who usually sit on approval committees and question what marketers do.
When you work in marketing you will get a lot of push-back for your plans from the rest of the business, so the ability to keep going, to be resilient is critical.
There’s a great expression we heard from the Old Wild West recently.
“You always know who the pioneers are, they’re the ones with arrows in their back.”
That’d be pretty typical for the best marketers too.
And while we’re on the topic of favourite expressions, one of our favourite about marketing was that …
“it would be a lot of fun if it only bloody customers would do what they’re supposed to”.
Because, despite how much you know it’s important to understand customers, to listen to and anticipate their needs and create great customer experiences tailored to those needs, some time things that should work, don’t.
Because customers are human at the end of the day. Though we all like to consider ourselves thoughtful and rational, sometimes we do things that don’t make sense.
In the words of a famous book, the only thing you can say with certainty about customers is they’re predictably irrational. Sure, behavioural science might help you plan for that, but it can’t get it right every time.
So, you need resilience for all those times the market research says “yes”. And then your target audience don’t buy. For all those times your expensive advertising and media has no impact, while that throw-away social media post on a Friday afternoon goes viral.
Welcome to working with customers
And finally on resilience, you have to put up with everyone having an opinion on marketing. An opinion on what you do and how you do it.
Whether they have qualifications and experience or not, everyone will be happy to tell you where you’re going wrong. How they’d do it better.
Unlike traditional professions like medicine or accountancy, the ‘rules’ of marketing aren’t black and white.
Very few people would challenge an expert medical diagnosis or financial statement. But everyone feels happy to challenge marketing expertise.
Because they see marketing as about customers, and everyone’s a customer at the end of the day.
This point of view means everyone has an an opinion on marketing. What your packaging looks like. If your advertising‘s any good. What you could do to improve your customer experience.
So marketing demands a lot of patience, energy and resilience to succeed. While skills like market research bring more certainty to marketing, marketing decision-making will still always have some level of subjectivity.
Get a thick skin. You’ll need it.
When you work in marketing, you have to be insanely curious about everything. Especially customers.
But you also need the sort of mind that can pull together lots of different pieces of information and make a new insights from them.
As a marketer, you should love getting in to the nitty gritty of gathering and analysing your marketing data.
Whether that’s sitting behind a two way mirror watching strangers talk about your product in focus groups.
Or trawling through vast amounts quantitative research data to find that nugget of information, that new emerging trend that will change how you do marketing.
Take every opportunity you can to work on market research projects. Attend interviews or focus groups where they are available. Read blogs, books and industry websites to see what people are talking about in your industry. Join mailing lists of relevant publications and follow key opinion leaders on their social media feeds.
Get under the skin of your customers by experiencing life from their point of view.
And make a point of being observant. What’s going on right now with customers around you? How do they talk? What do they say about brands and businesses? What’s of interest that could motivate, inspire and engage them?
Keep asking questions about your customers and you’re off to a great start at being a better marketer.
But for us, the true skill in analysis is what you do with all this information. Gathering and reviewing the data is only the start of the process.
It’s making that mental connection between customers, what you know about their behaviour, and how you apply that to your brand identity and your brand activation to grow your business.
We already mentioned resilience. But this need for resilience comes from the drive for change. And this drive for change brings us to the next of our next marketing tips. And that’s that you really need to get innovation.
The process of marketing innovation is a tough one.
Creative thinking is a fundamental skill where we see the best marketers really stand out.
That open-mindedness to generate new ideas and go out and test them. That passive radar on the world that spots great ideas from outside the business. Great marketers find innovative ideas and turn them into opportunities.
The best marketers know how to change the game. They’re not satisfied with the status quo. The best marketers look for the leading edge, the new, the outside the box and the just different way to do things.
If you look at most industries, growth comes from companies who are innovative. As per our marketing innovation guide, all products have a natural life cycle that will eventually lead to decline.
So, it’s the marketer’s job to recognise the need for innovation and bring new products and services to market that meet customer needs and grow the business.
Of all our marketing tips, this is the one you need to push the hardest, because it helps with all the other marketing tips.
We have to confess, we struggled a little with “N” for our B-R-A-I-N-S acronym of marketing tips.
We could have gone “numerical”. And numbers are important in marking. But hey, we already had analytical and sales oriented in the mix, and we felt we were well covered on that side of the business.
So, we were a little creative and innovative ourself, and we’ve gone with the “not an asshole”.
To be honest, we stole this concept from the NZ All Blacks rugby team, probably the most successful sports team in the world. They have a rule that in their team, they work as one unified team.
There’s no star players, no prima donnas, they work towards the collective goal. Anyone who is an asshole, does’t last in the team. They shape up or they ship out.
We’ve met a ton of marketers who unfortunately would fail this test. The ones who feel the need to call themselves strategists for a start.
And as we cover in our article on marketing personality types, there’s all sorts of annoying behaviour in marketing.
The ones who talk all the time and never listen. And those aggressive Type A personalities who steamroller over everyone else in the business. And yes, those ones who kill you with long presentations and never make decisions.
You often need to understand the politics that sit behind these types of behaviour to overcome barriers to marketing in your business.
And then there’s the way that marketers engage others in the business.
People who work in marketing can often have a blindspot on how they market themselves. Marketing as a subject can have a lot of jargon and terminology that alienate others.
So the penultimate of our marketings tip is to really focus on how not to sound like a marketer all the time. Because, often that makes you sound like an asshole.
In many cases as a marketer, you need to work with other functions or agencies who do not think the way you do.
Work out how to convey your message in simple, clear terms. It is one of the most impactful marketing skills you can develop. (See our article on marketing to non-marketers for more on this topic).
And even with all this, you still have to factor in the more general types of asshole behaviour you find in some businesses.
The managers who play politician rather than business leader. The ones so focussed on their career progression, they don’t care who gets in the way.
Here’s the thing for a marketer though. We think the brands you develop are influenced by the way you work. By the way you think, and the way you operate.
So, if there is the whiff of asshole behaviour about you, then the same’s going to be true for your brand.
Nobody’s perfect, but we’ve usually found the most average and mediocre brands are run by assholes. And the truly great brands are run by the one who are genuine team players and who use their brains.
There’s nothing worse than the marketer who looks down on sales as though it’s a dirty word.
At the end of the day, marketers have to make commercial decisions about where and how to spend the company’s money. And if that money does not convert to sales, then the marketer hasn’t done their job.
Not by a long shot.
The ability to create strong brands that connect with customers and deliver profitable sales growth is where your marketing skills really make a difference.
The last of our marketing tips is that marketers always have their eye on the end goal. You can talk about purpose and vision all you like, life’s much better when you’re looking at sales charts that show double digit growth. believe us. Own your sales forecasts and be across every line of the profit and loss.
What’s the best price for example? When and how often (if at all) do you run price promotions? How do you make sure your product looks good on an online product page and so it converts to a sale?
Get familiar with how the creative process works and the principles which run across design, colour, typography, writing, photography and video. Improvements in these areas drive sales for your business.
Consider how trade channels work and think about the exciting new opportunity that e-Commerce offers.
It’s a lot to take it. Your B.R.A.I.N.S. probably hurt just thinking about it. But you know, it you can follow those six marketing tips – brand focussed, resilience, analytical, innovative, not an asshole and sales-oriented, then you’re well on your way to being a great marketer.
Marketing is constantly changing. It’s worth taking the time to build in regular reviews. What is working for you and what isn’t? What new things do you need to learn, and what things are starting to lose their relevance?
You might find some ideas in this blog post from our own regular reviews of our business. There’s also some additional marketing tips in our articles on how to be a better marketer and the life cycle of a marketer.
We’ve worked on many marketing projects and have good experience across all aspects of marketing. If you want to connect marketing expertise back into driving your brand sales, we coach businesses and business leaders how to grow skills and confidence in marketing.
Contact us for more marketing tips to grow your business through our coaching and consulting services.
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