To revisit an extended series I wrote last fall on the marketing multiplier effect, today I’d like to discuss the interconnectedness of all your marketing efforts.
None of your marketing maneuvers operate independently of each other. You may treat them like they do, but they are all connected in what I call The Marketing Circle of Life.
For small businesses I have found the four primary spots of the marketing circle of life to be: Branding, Experience, Conversation, Promotion. Put in a visual perspective, they look like this:
All four spots are interconnected and they must all be assembled in their proper order.
In The Real World
In a recent conversation with an admittedly frustrated small business owner, he wondered what he should do and where he should do it. The ideas were flying in from all directions. Should he dress the employees in uniforms? Should he focus on couponing? Should he change the name of his business? Where should he start?
That’s not an uncommon dilemma. If you feel yourself wondering what to do and where to do it, most likely you do not have a clear identity. And that’s why we start with branding.
You cannot design a remarkable customer experience, you cannot cause people to talk about you with a sustainable message, and you cannot get a return on your advertising investment unless you first brand yourself. Try doing it by skipping the branding step and you will be just like my frustrated friend.
So here’s what you should working on, and the correct order in which to work.
The rest of your marketing has no meaning without a brand. It is the genesis of the marketing circle of life, where your marketing is born. How can you expect to build a customer experience without a brand? What do you expect people to say when they talk about you? What are you going to advertise?
The answers to these questions become clear when you have properly branded your business. To build a brand you start with a brand promise based upon your values, mission and vision.
You can’t build a meaningful customer experience unless you first have a brand. Brandless customer experiences are meandering trips through several “good ideas” patched together with marketing scotch tape.
Once you have a brand, you can now build a remarkable customer experience that creates loyalty and launches word of mouth. But you cannot give people something to talk about unless they first have something to talk about. The conversation starts with the experience.
The best technique to craft a remarkable customer experience is to map it out under the umbrella of a cohesive theme.
Andy Sernovitz, the guru of Word of Mouth Marketing, says that you have to give people something to talk about. What’s that going to be? You’ll just be guessing if you have not properly branded yourself and designed a remarkable customer experience.
Today’s marketing conversation for small business is derived from three channels:
- Word of Mouth – Find your word-of-mouth spark based on your brand and customer experience, and then use proven tactics to stimulate conversation.
- Social Media – The online tools people use to share and discuss everything, including the products and services they use.
- Publicity – The art of creating buzz through both traditional and new media channels.
Advertising is useless unless you have a brand, a remarkable customer experience, and a message worth talking about. Without the first three components of the MCOL, you will be relegated to advertising price, sales, and touting your years of experience.
Rarely, should you advertise outside of these purposes: advancing your brand promise, touting your customer experience, reinforcing your word of mouth message. Use your advertising to attract, not seduce customers. Your goal is a long-term relationship and not a one-night-stand.
Remember to craft each of these marketing spots in the correct order. When you do, you’ll find that each spot builds upon your previous work.
Once you’ve assembled your marketing strategy in this order, you’ll find that they are all interconnected. That’s what I’ll cover in my next post.