Not every single marketing activity will translate to direct sales! Can someone please scream this from the rooftops?
If you’ve worked in a marketing capacity, you know this. And you also know a lot of clients straight up refuse to accept it. It’s easy to want to connect all marketing activity directly to ROI.
Some of these activities, such as social media, may be viewed as extras and add-ons because they do not translate to direct revenue, but do they help in solidifying the overall brand picture?
It’s imperative to place brand building and sales activities in separate categories. Although they might occasionally overlap, they must be treated as different actions, with different strategies that generate different results.
It is easy to overlook the importance of building a solid brand before diving straight into selling. Especially after investing funds into a business. Granted, in the beginning stages of running your business, you might command profits left, right & center.
But what keeps your clients coming back? What prevents them from switching to a competitor selling the exact same product or services for slightly less?
Your brand – that’s what!
Big brands invest millions of dollars in building and maintaining a certain brand image with no direct translation to sales. This is not just for fun or because they feel like splurging. It’s because they understand the value and the equity that comes with a solid brand name.
Even the good book says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches. To be esteemed is better than silver or gold”.
Take Coca-Cola, for example, this brand participates in different types of brand building activities designed to trigger emotions, nostalgia, and certain positive feelings associated with the brand.
Amidst these activities, Coca-Cola products are not explicitly sold. Why? The brand understands the value of building brand equity with their current and potential consumers. What is this brand equity, you ask?
It is simply the value placed on a particular brand, based on the experience, feeling, or perception a consumer attaches to it. Simply put, if consumers feel your brand is wack, they won’t be willing to pay much for it.
If they view your brand as the best thing since sliced bread, they will be willing to pay more for it compared to similar brands. Thus it has a higher equity and commands a price premium in the market.
The problem with focusing on sales before boosting brand awareness and equity is that you may attract a slew of one-time clients. They buy and use your product, but have no connection to keep them coming back, so they keep it moving!
A competitor product pops up the next time and they switch. Sounds familiar? Yeah, we’re all guilty of doing this. We’re also guilty of being extremely loyal to certain brands based on the value we have placed on them.
For some mothers, only a certain brand of diapers will do for their babies, for others, such as myself, we buy fuel from only a certain brand of petrol stations. That’s the beauty of building a strong and trusted brand.
There are many angles to this “brand equity” business, including consumer-based brand equity as discussed previously, employee-based brand equity, and more. As your business grows, employee-based brand equity cannot be neglected.
In growing brand loyalty and equity, employees can be your most cost-effective brand evangelists. The people who will love and promote your brand from the mountaintops – for free.
Let’s use Heineken as an example, I have a couple of friends who work for the brand, and as we say in Nigeria, they “carry it on their head”. Sometimes I think to myself, “Na your papa own this place?”-(Does your father own Heineken?) but guess what? The last time I was in Amsterdam, where the HQ is located — What was I most excited to see & do? To tour the Heineken brewery!
The passion their employees have for the brand and the sincere love and joy that emanates when they speak about it, in turn, gave me the “ginger” and excitement to go see things for myself. When your employees truly believe in your brand and become loyalists (not just because you pay them a salary), something truly magical happens.
They become one of your greatest and cheapest marketing assets. The word begins to spread organically and the positive brand equity transcends from employees to consumers.
It’s understandable, you put money in, you want money out, and quick! Unfortunately return on investment is not always immediate or that simple.
Recognizing the need for brand building activities which may not necessarily translate to sales in the short-term is the first step. Understanding the need to cultivate long-term meaningful relationships with your target is the next.
While creating a distinction between brand building and selling activities, always remember to look at the big picture and think long-term.
As Gary Vaynerchuk once said, “Brand is not transactional. Brand is forever”.
Update: This post was originally uploaded on November 2018 on She Leads Africa