As a golfer, I can't help but be distracted this time a year. Since golf is on the mind, I thought I'd outline the synergies between the game and the discipline of marketing. Both take precision, patience and a little luck. Here's how they intersect.
Have a GAMEPLAN:
Each elite golfer at the US Open has planned weeks in advance for this tournament, even considering when and how often to play leading up to the event. They've detailed how they will play each hole; which clubs to carry in their bag, when to take their chances and what club to hit depending on tee and pin placement.
Businesses of course should do the same; yet most small businesses operate without a clear marketing plan. No plan = desperate stabs in the dark to grow your business. Think like a tour pro, understand your course, and develop the right strategies and tactics for the job.
With that in mind, GET A COACH:
The majority of tour pro's will have a coach with them, or at the very least, a close advisor who can be a credentialed guide to help them hone their swing and formulate a gameplan. Ever present is their on course coach, their caddie, who keeps them on track and assists as needed.
You too should have a coach! Trying to make smart decisions about how to optimize your limited budget is nearly impossible if you aren't skilled in the art of marketing. Find someone who can help you formulate a smart strategy and help you select the right tools and tactics to maximize your ROI, no matter your budget.
COMMIT to the shot:
The best golfers are the ones that do this well. They know they are prepared, have studied the elements, and visualize their next stroke. Then, they commit to that shot 100%.
Once you have a marketing plan you are confident with, execute with precision and confidence. Many companies end up paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake or wasting money. If you've got a smart plan, don't hesitate. Act!
ADAPT to changing conditions:
Sun, wind, rain, bad lies, poor play, a loose swing, slow partners, a tweaked wrist... the best PGA pro's are ready for anything that might come their way. Their planning and practice has prepared and conditioned them to accept, adapt and move on from any adversity they might face.
No marketing plan is perfect. You'll need to make changes along the way, pouring more money into the things that work, and quickly killing any strategies and activities that are no longer relevant or producing results.
Listen to any of the top 5 players in the world and you'll recognize one thing unanimously; humble confidence. While they have found much success through hard work, they know they are just one bad round away from losing a tournament, or falling back in the rankings. The game can bite you quick if you don't respect it. That's why they constantly monitor their swing and test new equipment well in advance of putting it in play.
Things may be going well for your business now, but how will you grow your sales in the next 1, 3 or 5 years? It's easy to be 'fat on the calf' when things are good, but what about the future? (see: real estate before 2008). Be always mindful of how you will keep things fresh and interesting for your customers through innovation and attention to details.
Birdies are nice, but any pro will tell you that making par on every hole is a great way to excel on tour. The competition is fierce and there is a lot of parity in the game. Each entrant can win the US Open if they play steady, take smart chances and accept the set backs as they come. The winner could very well be the person who makes the least bogeys, not the most birdies.
Every business would like to have a "viral video", or execute a marketing idea that solves all their problems. It just doesn't work like that most of the time. It takes patience and a methodical approach to delivering a targeted and valuable product/service and brand message to the right audience. Have belief, be dilligent and don't get distracted from executing the little things that will add up to a big win in the end!
If you're looking for a good coach for your business, give me a call. Right after the US Open...
When PT360 came to me for help with positioning their brand, I had a hill to climb to get them to break away from the sameness pervasive in the physical therapy community. (disclosure: my wife is a partner in the business).
They are unbelievable care givers located in a great facility, with a strong passion for their patients wellness. Hmm....sounds like what every other physical therapy practice might claim to be...
While their name is clearly a nod to the breadth of their services, it doesn’t convey their uniquesnes as the only physical therapy cooperative in the area. This is what truly differentiates them in the marketplace; perfect for the "help your neighbor" culture prevalent in Vermont.
With each member an owner, they challenge each other daily to do the best for their patients, their practice and their partners. Add to this their philosophy of care: “We give our patients the skills to heal themselves”, and we have the ingredients of a fresh message.
After calculating the messaging of their competition, revealing their true point of differentiation, and honing their rational, emotional and cultural “reasons to believe”, I created a tagline that communicates their brand essence in a creative way, which inspires and imprints itself in their marketplace.
PT360 Better Together
They’re literally better together in a new practice of their own, pushing themselves to improve their skills day in and day out.
Matched with their philosophy of empowering their patients to heal themselves, the message, Better Together, offers a dual meaning that resonates with the team, and their clients. Short, sweet and to the point.
Retrospectively, it seems obvious.....right?
That’s when you know you have it nailed! It just makes sense, while being fresh and approachable - creatively describing their USP.
I love these projects, and can’t wait for the next one!
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I'll try and answer this one simply,though there is much depth to understanding the originality of brands. The following isa sketchpad overview, and extension of the post: The 3 Elements of a Great Brand
Brands are unique when they inspire, compell to action, and communicate valuable differentiation.
When they are accurately positioned in the marketplace via a fresh voice and inspired message, focused around a trend.
So, let's say you sell organic dogfood. Some elements of your brand might align with: health for your pet, good taste, perceived affluence, and earth friendly manufacturing practices. If no other brand is championing these things, and you are certain that your target market will find them appealing, then you have the start of a unique brand.
You then develop a mantra for your co./brand that epitomizes those critical elements of difference, then translate that into a unique message that conveys your point of difference in a remarkable way (as simple as a tag line, or broader communications that tell your story). While only a small part of "branding", this is the unique message you want your target market to remember, thus quite important.
The brand and company need a clear spirit and personality to display to the world when showcasing those brand elements; something that matches what your audience will be receptive to while providing flexibility for communicating each of the chosen brand elements.
Identity is critical, so a name and logo that match your brand promise and personality must be crafted with care (more about this another day).
Now, here's the scary part.
This is all simply a smart "strategy" to approach the market with.
Ultimately, the masses decide if your brand is unique, and it's your job to steer them to understanding via an unwavering focus on delivering brand experiences that resonate with your core message, personality and promise.
If you do this in creative, unpredictable (but consistent) ways, you'll have a better shot than most at developing a unique brand.
If you are asking the question, "when do I start branding".....the time has already arrived!
Assuming you have a viable business model (that should be your first priority), and a passion to bring your offering to the world, the branding process will focus your actions and set you up for success.
Something as "basic" as pricing, has huge implications for the perception of your brand. If you haven't begun the process, yet have set a price, you very well could be constraining your opportunity for success, or worse, creating a situation where you deliver conflicting messages to your market; a certain recipe for hard times.
Unless you have the most remarkable product in the world, that is easy to understand and solves a problem that has never had an answer (errr....a time machine perhaps), success is best achieved with a strategically crafted brand.
The sooner you have one to stand behind, the faster you can make contact with the outside world.
The competitors message might be true; but thankfully, positioning is more than simply a story of intent. While the corporate narrative is critical, more valuable are the subsequent stories of success that you acquire from doing business in a more remarkable way.The competition has communicated a particular mission, but, they have not shown the fruits of this labor via case studies, testimonials, examples of superior work, etc... to prove the words they have crafted for their website (the stock photo’s aren't helping either). All they have done is manufactured a message (as far as the outside world can tell).
So, the direction remains to follow our new mission, with a spotlighted emphasis on bringing the exceptional results to life throughout all the chosen marketing venues. In a short amount of time, our message will "look" much different than the hollow facade presented by the competition.
When you relay your successes in a manner that reflects your brand personality, it strengthens your positioning, the trust in your story, and the reason you should be chosen above your competition. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of hot air.
Actions really do speak louder than words.
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To build a great brand, you MUST focus on connecting the 3 elements that make up the foundation of great brands.
When positioning and communicating your product/service/offer, you should consider:
The MIND. (there are practical reasons for someone to choose your brand. what are they?)
The HEART. (humans are sentimental. what sentiments do you connect to?)
The LIFESTYLE. (what's happening in the world that is fresh, and which you can align with?)
Combine all 3 of these factors and communicate them in a unique, concise message.
Then do great things that make them come to life!
You'll be on your way to building a brand that is refreshing and new!