HOW TO BUILD A BRAND IN 2017

Every year, new trends emerge that brand marketing executives should pay attention to. The problem is, not many CMO’s, VP’s or Directors of Marketing have the time to read past the headlines and see if they have value. That’s why we have put together this list of questions that brand teams should be asking themselves as we approach 2017.

As the end of 2016 approaches, were seeing that there’s too much focus on content frequency and not enough focus on content strategy. Everyone has bought into the idea that “content is king,” but they don’t realize that content itself won’t mean a damn thing to your audience without having some impact in their daily lives.

A brand can’t expect to grow its’ revenue by simply posting high quality pictures of their products all the time. While this is beneficial for the photography pros out there looking to earn some side income, it’s not a valuable expense for brands without a side of strategy. A quick scan of any social media platform will populate thousands of products following the same exact strategy: hire a photographer to take high quality photos of the product, perhaps in various environments, and cross your fingers that everyone clicks the like button.

This hasn’t worked in 2016, and please don’t think it will in 2017. Frankly, nobody gives a shit. There is already too much content on the Internet and in our everyday lives, we simply don’t have time to stop and smell the roses anymore. A sad tale, but true.

Now, I know there are brands that use design, photography and art to attract their customers – photographers, travel companies, architects, interior design firms – but I’m speaking to the other 99% of brands who are aiming to use content to grow their revenue. For the majority of these brands, relying ONLY on high quality images to the get the attention of a buying customer isn’t going to cut it.  

“So if we shouldn’t be posting nice images of our product all the time, what should we be doing?”

For most brands out there heading into 2017, you have to do a gut check and really look at the actions you’re taking across the Internet. If they are not producing the results you want, ask yourself these five questions and you might just have a revelation:

1: Does every single piece of content you put out have a very specific goal?

Does it make somebody want to buy your product? Does it make them want to share the post? Is it asking them specifically for a comment, or an action? If the answer is not, and you don’t have a reason, then you’re wasting time, energy and resources.

You need to have alignment, purpose and an underlying strategy with all of your content if you want any kind of return on your efforts. If you have someone on your team posting random things happening at your company, for the sake of getting something on Facebook, you’re wasting their (or your company’s) time.

In 2017, make sure every single piece of content has purpose.

2: Does your brand tell a collective story?

Does every single video, image, graphic and piece of content you distribute tell a story people understand? This includes the design of your website, product packaging and TV commercials. If people can’t remember who you are and what you stand for when they see or hear your name, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

Right now – whether you are a large company or a small biz – you have an unbelievable opportunity to bring people closer to “buying in” to your products by telling them a story about your brand. Every single place a consumer sees your brand, they are reading a story about you. Are you a bar with sticky floors, stale light beer and a sign with one letter that has been blinking for 6 months? This story doesn’t sound like it will be fun. Are you a bar that has peanut shells all over the floor, big screens with sports playing and a craft beer lineup that goes on for days? This story sounds like a lot of fun.  

Now, if you can distribute content that tells a story about just how fun bar #2 really is, you can win a lot of first time customers. By filming short video clips of fans cheering for the hometown team, or photos taken by friends at your bar, or running Facebook ads that promoting daily specials, your story is being woven.  Post an interview with your owner talking about why she founded the bar, craft your own beer with a unique label that people  will want as a keepsake of memories they had at the bar – maybe they can write on it. There are endless opportunities to tell a great story.

As we get closer to the new year, conduct an audit across every consumer touch point to make sure that you’re maximizing the impact of your story. Seriously, look everywhere.

3: Are you really talking with your community, or at them?

Many marketers and agencies claim that their content “speaks” to their community, but there’s no real conversation going on. More brands really need to get in the habit of talking WITH their consumers rather than AT them. Consumers are smart, and they’re getting even smarter. They know when corporations just want to sell them shit. Use this fact to your advantage. Be more proactive on your social channels to start conversations with them. This includes your customer service departments. Don’t just wait for people to submit a review or tweet a complaint, go out there and be the most engaging, talkative brand in the room.

In 2017 don’t wait to be the subject of a conversation, be proactive and be the one to start the conversation.

4: Does your customer’s happiness come up in your board meetings?

Sure, we’re an ad agency, but part of what we do is help companies realize that their customers are the best marketers they can have on their team. Doing everything possible to make their day special, is usually top of mind for us. It’s the stuff that great marketing campaigns are made of.

Whether it’s including free stuff in your customer orders, promoting a contest that is great for your audience, or including free singing phone calls with every 5th purchase – if you think of the customer first, things will start to become really great for you.

One of the all-time best examples of this is Zappos, which notoriously treats their customers like gold. They’ve done it all – sending free products, refunds to customers that didn’t get what they ordered, to setting the world record for the longest customer service phone call at 10 hours, 43 minutes.

Going above and beyond your customer’s expectations in all points of communications is going to be a great differentiator in 2017.

5: Are you paying attention to where people are paying attention?

If you’re selling products and services to 13 to 40-year-olds, your marketing team should have been experts at Snapchat within the first week of 2016 (and maybe even before that). You should’ve been pumping out Instagram stories the first day it was released. Do you know what musical.ly is?

People’s attention is moving from platform to platform, and you need to be there, period. This doesn’t mean that your message has to change. It simply means, by welcoming a new platform to your marketing strategy, you have the opportunity to reach another hundred, thousand or maybe even million people. Trust, it’s worth it in the long run.

If there is one thing that is tried and true, it’s that marketers jump on new opportunities for attention like flies on poo. Speed is one of the major keys to success in marketing, and if you wait until a platform is mature, you will have a much, MUCH harder time making an impact – plus it will be more expensive.  

In 2017, be willing to experiment with new opportunities to have an impact on your customers. Don’t judge it’s potential for success based on past results, judge it based on your own results through the initial experiments.

To sum it up

The goals of just about every company can be summarized pretty quickly: to acquire customers efficiently, grow their lifetime value and convert them into loyal advocates who influence new customers. In 2017 and beyond, create content with a purpose and connect with customers on a personal, 1:1 level to grow your revenue.

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