October is a month that many companies dedicate to planning for the year ahead. Marketers are busy crafting initiatives and allocating budgets, hoping that the brand plan is in line with the business objectives.
If you are planning a new brand introduction or just working on the yearly strategy you might have some convincing work to do. Have you ever been in a position to explain the senior management team that branding is more than designing a logo and choosing nice colours? Are you a new marketing employee that needs to make a first good impression in front of the management team?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions you know how hard it is to sell the intangible-in our case “brand strategy”. Today I will share with you my approach to making sure the plan I present has very good chances of being approved.
Choose Who You Work For Wisely
Based on my experience there are two types of companies: Marketing-driven ones and the ones that think the role of Marketing is solely to support other departments, in particular the Sales department.
Peter Drucker once said: “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs”.
Marketing-driven organizations believe that Marketing’s role is to drive the company forward, to look beyond the daily tasks and show the management team “the way forward”. Marketers play a major role in the decision making process and are important members of the Management team. In case of a recession the marketing budget is usually one of the last to be cut (pro-active companies actually increase the budget to capture market share).
Then there are companies that see Marketing as a fancy word with no useful meaning. Marketers working in these firms are busy satisfying requests for catalogs, promo flyers and product samples. If they are lucky they might work on developing a program “as the need arise”. They have no involvement in developing the long term strategy.
My advice: as marketer aim to work or collaborate with Marketing-driven organizations. Your life will be much easier and your chances of success in creating a long term impact are increased.
5 Tips For Having Your Brand Strategy Approved
I was lucky enough to be involved in some major brand introductions as well as some brand positioning projects. The tips below worked for me in the critical moments of ensuring the management team’s buy-in into the project:
- Choose your clients/company you want to work for carefully. As I mentioned above try to find companies that see the real value of Marketing. I know that’s not always possible, but this should be your goal. My strategy is to develop long-term relationships with only a few Marketing-driven companies rather than chase every marketing project I come across.
- Learn as much as you can about your audience. This is valid anytime you have to deliver a presentation, Marketing-related or not. Top management consists of people with different backgrounds: financial, logistics, manufacturing, etc. Each have their own goals and objectives. Tailor your presentation to address their needs and interests.
- Plant the seeds in advance. This is one of the most important tactic I employ. Some people have a more important role in the decision making process. Learn who they are and offer them a preview of your strategy. People who know what to expect tend to have a more positive attitude towards a new idea or plan. Moreover, based on their feedback you can tweak your message just in time for the big day.
- Use plain language and clarify every Marketing term that might create confusion. Concepts such as brand positioning, brand attributes, brand image, are probably unfamiliar to many of the team members. Your chances of success increase greatly if the team actually understands what you are talking about.
- Make good use of examples. Explain that what makes a brand successful brand is an effective marketing strategy. Provide visual examples using well-known brands.