Archive for October, 2013

Let Your Knowledge Be Your Promotion!

Monday, October 28th, 2013

We recently launched a new LinkedIn group — Let’s Get Strategic About Communications! — that we’re hoping will generate some good discussion and sharing of best practice insights among communication professionals. It’s a closed group, meaning that we are carefully monitoring participation and limiting it to those who are committed to openly sharing information in a non-promotional manner. The trouble, we think, with so many LinkedIn groups is that they quickly devolve into blatant self-promotion and become nothing more than individual members saying “look at me!,” “look what I’ve done!,” “come to my webinar!,” “read my whitepaper!,” etc.  Now, there is certainly (more…)

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That “Silly” SWOT and Why You Should Spend Time to Do it Right

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

I used to consider SWOT analyses to be “silly exercises,” but after using them on a number of occasions during strategic planning processes with clients and, after conducting research for my book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Strategic PlanningI’ve come to believe that (if done effectively) they can help drive better strategy development.

If done correctly, SWOT analyses should: (more…)

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Back to Branding: A 4-Step Process to Launch Your Brand Management Efforts

Monday, October 21st, 2013
Branding is a fundamental task for any business, whether large or small, regardless of industry, and regardless of how long the business has been around.
Effective brands, research tells us, drive successful businesses. 
Get it right and you will reap the rewards. Unfortunately, although the process can seem straightforward from an “academic” perspective, the real work of branding is an ongoing process that involves all areas of the organization, and all individuals in the organization. That’s part of what makes it such a challenge. You’ve probably heard the expression “like herding cats.” That’s exactly what brand management can feel like, especially for service organizations.
We work frequently with organizations and individuals to conduct brand assessments and develop and implement brand management plans designed to help them position their organizations (or themselves) to their target audiences. As we work together, we take a 4-step approach to help define and manage their desired brands:

1) Clarify how the client would like to be perceived. We generally go through a two-part exercise, including some kind of projective exercise (e.g. “if your organization was a house, what kind of house would it be; draw a picture…,” or “if your organization were a person, what would that person look like; tear out pictures from magazines…”). We develop a list of desired attributes based on these discussions.

2) Assess how their target markets currently perceive them. This includes employees (because they play a critical role as brand ambassadors), customers, prospects, community leaders, etc. The specific audiences vary by organization. We generally accomplish this step through research while might include both qualitative (focus groups/interviews) and quantitative (surveys). This step can also be a great communication tactic to help engage various audiences in the process and convey to them the core attributes you wish to be known for.

3) Identify the gaps between desired and perceived brand image. In some cases, this may mean that the audience doesn’t perceive you as strongly for a particular attribute as you would like to be perceived. In other cases the opposite is true. And, sometimes, you may find that your audience has positive perspectives of you that you hadn’t even considered and may wish to emphasize. Based on this gap analysis, you would prioritize the gaps to focus on; this will drive your communication strategies and tactics.

4) Develop a plan to close the gaps; this includes both marketing communication and operational strategies and tactics.

Most of this process is fairly straightforward and it’s not that difficult to get to step #4. But that’s where the challenges emerge. Why? Because most organizations view branding as a communication process. While communication is certainly part of the branding process, it is just a part. Operational issues also play a major role in how companies are perceived. For service businesses (e.g. health care organizations, professional services firms like law firms, consultancies, etc.) brand management is especially challenging because every interaction their target audiences have with their organizations serve to form impressions: this includes everything from how clean their parking lot is and how easy it is to find parking, to how their staff answers the phone, to how staff are dressed, etc., etc., etc.

It’s a worthy challenge though. If you’re up for the challenge, we have a number of additional blogs related to branding that you may find helpful.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve desired results.

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

Recommended Reading

21st Century Secrets to Effective PR: Tips and Best Practices for Gaining Media Exposure

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STP: A Useful Marketing Acronym

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

One of the marketing concepts that I find many people struggle with–even marketing professionals–is defining a target audience. Seems pretty simple but, in fact, most people tend to cast a very wide net when determining who to target their marketing messages to. Much of this is because, I’m sure, we all have a tendency to believe that our product or service could appeal to a large segment of the market. So we attempt to reach the masses and, as a result, fail to effectively position our product or service within the minds of an audience that is most likely to respond. (more…)

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Should You Have a Blog?

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

A business colleague of mine recently asked me what I thought about the value of a blog. Seems a vendor she was working with was recommending a blog and she really didn’t see the value. There are, though, two very important reasons that those wishing to build an online presence should consider managing a blog (and a few other, secondary, reasons). (more…)

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What NOT to do on LinkedIn—or other social media sites!

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

We’ve been fairly active in social media for quite some time and manage several accounts for our own marketing efforts and to experiment with techniques that we can use to help boost clients’ awareness levels and levels of engagement online. We’ve reached that point where it is more common for people to reach out to us to connect than it is for us to be actively seeking new connections. To manage our connections, we have some guidelines in place to determine whose invitations to connect we accept and whose we ignore. (more…)

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How Can You Measure Your Advertising Effectiveness?

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
It’s very important for businesses of any size to track the results of their marketing campaigns. Small businesses, in particular, are often “budget-challenged,” so it is especially important that they know that their marketing efforts are achieving desired results. The biggest benefit is that they will have information to tell them how to use their marketing budget most effectively.
There are a variety of ways they might track the effectiveness of these campaigns: (more…)
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Gaining Traction With the Media

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
When I work with students and clients I like to tell them that there are four ways that consumers (whether B2B or B2C) learn about companies and their products and services:
  • Their own personal experiences
  • Word of mouth (WOM) from colleagues, friends and relatives
  • Media coverage/PR
  • Advertising done by these organizations

I list them in order from most impactful, to least. And, while advertising certainly plays an important role for many organizations, media exposure is more credible. Why? Because media coverage represents somebody else talking about you, versus you talking about yourself. It is not necessary to spend a lot of money on traditional advertising to get results these days. In fact, there are multiple opportunities for even the smallest of organizations to make an impact. For those seeking to boost awareness, preference and demand for their products and services without investing large amounts of money in paid advertising, the steps are: (more…)

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