A lot of marketing content these days talks about best practice. It’s best practice to post to Facebook at least 4 times a week. It’s best practice to have a heading, subheadings and CTA above the fold on a webpage. It’s best practice to use the ‘rule of 3’ and give three examples in a list.
The trouble is, we’re all reading the same content. We’re all following the same best practices, and we’ve homogenised our brands as a result.
Look at your last social post or your website homepage. If the logo was swapped out to one of your competitors, would it make a difference?
Best practice is killing the brand
Following best practice is the best way to tick off your marketing checklist, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to win over new customers.
We’ve become caught up in saying what we think the customer wants to hear, without stopping to wonder whether it’s actually what we should be saying.
In fact, customers rarely care about your brand – but rather, they’re looking for what your brand can do for them.
Compare the pair:
GiftWell is an app that allows for the management of cash gifting for events through a secure interface.
GiftWell is the app modernising cash gifting, letting you focus on celebrating your event rather than worrying about keeping your gifts of money secure.
When we focus on the benefits of our product or brand instead of the features, we’re actually speaking the customer’s language. We’re walking the walk rather than just talking the talk.
“A comedian doesn’t tell you they’re funny. They tell a joke.”
– Simon Pound
If you can’t beat them, don’t join them
Ever tried to hold a conversation at the bar on a Friday night, or be heard over the raucous footy crowd? Did you give up and move somewhere else where you could actually be heard?
Marketing works much the same. If everyone’s using the same ‘best practices,’ trying to rank for the same keywords, their content’s going to get stale pretty quickly.
Rather than trying to cut through the noise, look at where you can add value through putting your spend towards more creative search terms. A little bit of keyword research, a little ad word spend, and you might find that suddenly you’re landing customers with a lot more intent – for a fraction of the effort.
A great brand strategy, though, doesn’t settle for being found by chance. The best way to reduce your cost per click? Strengthen your brand identity so that your customers are seeking you out specifically.
Brand from the inside out
Like we said earlier – customers don’t particularly want to be told why you’re different, they want to experience it.
Having a strong knowledge of your target market and creating content that solves their problems (or celebrates their victories) should be at the centre of your brand strategy. This should then have just enough brand that customers come to recognise – and seek out – your brand.
This comes from a cohesive and consistent brand approach; everything from fonts, to colours, to tone of voice. Everything you create should be reflective of your brand, your values and how you make money. Remember, you don’t want content that could look like it came from anyone – you want content that is authentically and uniquely you.
Brand as an ongoing commitment
As kids, we all buttered our parents up if there was something we wanted – and dropped the act as soon as we got it. Chances are, your parents caught on pretty quick and stopped giving you the time of day.
But here we are, all these years later, doing the same thing to our customers. We work to carefully move them through the funnel, making them feel important and cared for – until they do what we want them to, when we drop the act. Once they’ve downloaded our content or signed up for our trial, we add them to our email list, but the honeymoon phase is over.
A lot of the time, this comes down to a disjointed experience between your marketing and your product experience (or whatever proverbial carrot you’ve been dangling). If people don’t get what they were expecting from you, why would they bother giving you any more of their time?
If your brand has been attentive, thoughtful and helpful prior to them taking the action, keep this up afterwards. Send an extra freebie, offer tips that reflect where they’re at in the customer journey, reach out to them directly.
Just don’t make your brand feel like a waste of your customers’ time.
This article was based on a presentation that inspired us by Simon Pound, partner at NZ-based venture studio Previously Unavailable and all-round genius on all things brand marketing. Watch Simon’s original presentation with commentary here.