When we meet with potential clients for the first time, it’s usually about five minutes into the meeting that they ask us about how they can use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites to grow their business. Or they tell us they spent days developing content for this and other services, but never got the results they had hoped.
Our first response is always the question, how happy are you with your brand? Whether it’s the latest emerging media craze or an old-fashioned direct mail piece, how your target audience perceives you is the most critical aspect. Without a strong brand, nothing you do is going to make an impact.
A brand is your marketing foundation. Your brand should be consistent, engaging and relevant. It should be aspirational. It should make customers/clients/patients excited to do business with you.
One of our favorite brands right now is Progressive Insurance. For decades Progressive was a faceless, undefined brand – just another boring insurance company in the minds of customers. From a marketing perspective they seemed, well, anything but progressive.
To make things worse, Geico with its gecko, cavemen and the like, were pulling even more market share away.
Then Progressive’s marketing firm invented a feisty, slightly left-of-center brunette named Flo. She’s the quirky “salesgirl” manning (or lady-ing) the counter of the fictional Progressive store. The commercials stand out. For the first time customers have a concrete image to remember in reference to Progressive. They established a desperately needed brand. Most importantly, they are doing the unthinkable – they are taking customers away from vaunted Geico.
Now think about how Progressive can utilize Facebook. (Actually how they ARE using Facebook.) In just a short amount of time, Flo has accumulated almost 34,000 friends. These are people who proactively chose to get messages from a car insurance company! From good branding comes clients!
In addition, there are also fan groups on Facebook, fan created Flo websites and more. Once you have a brand, then you’re ready to figure out ways to spread it. But the brand must always come first.
Brands can come in all shapes and sizes. The Susan G Komen “brand” with its pink ribbons for breast cancer is serious and reverent. The Mountain Dew brand is young and extreme. There’s a great brand for your company waiting to be revealed. Find that and Facebook, Twitter and everything else will take care of itself.