brand

Marketing is an investment.

With spectacular returns.

Don't ever stop marketing.

Cut marketing and sales will fall too.

Marketing drives sales [I'd argue nothing else does], so be in no doubt that if you want the latter, you'll have to work hard on the former.

If your marketing is not working, you're doing it wrong. That doesn't mean stop marketing, it means stop doing the wrong marketing — go and ask people who know what you should be doing*, listen to them, and start doing the right marketing.

Not all of it will pay off today — much will take weeks, months and even years to filter down the funnel and into your company’s sales gas tank. But that doesn't mean it’s not working.

The original Mad Man, ad guru, David Ogilvy said, “Any damn fool can put on a deal, but it takes genius, faith and perseverance to create a brand.”

Marketing is like any investment strategy — you need to have short, medium and long-term goals, and you'll do different things for each.

From your salary you save a little money for the weekend on the fizz, you save a little money for your summer holiday, and you put away a little for your pension. Stop doing any of them and the future starts looking dull at best, and scary at worst.

If you want to go out on the razzle this weekend you need to do a deal today, but if you want a luxurious retirement you'll need to put in years of faith and perseverance building an amazing brand.

*people who know what your marketing should be and to whom you should listen:

  1. your customers. 2. your staff (possibly not the marketing team) 3. the last resort, consultants….

The Vidal Sassoon principle.

Make your customers look good and you'll look great.

Sixties’ celebrity hairdresser Vidal Sassoon knew this very well and used it brilliantly for years.

“If you don’t look good, we don’t look good” was his winning strapline for several decades.

Vidal built an international brand out of nothing more than his customers’ great hair. The shampoos and conditioners came much later; to begin with all Sassoon made was other people feel great.

He knew instinctively that one of the secrets to a great reputation, and to building a great service brand — large or small — is to make your customers’ feel good. Empower them to shine, and then highlight their joy.

Everyone knows the power of a product to make you feel good. A great pair of jeans makes you feel like Steve McQueen. A great guitar makes you feel like Hendrix. Even a great perfume makes you smell like Marilyn Munroe (in bed).

Sassoon had no physical product, but he knew that his customers walked out of his salon taller, with a more confident spring in their step and they loved him for that. And boy did they tell their friends. He knew that if you can enable people to fly and to soar — because of what you have done for them — you'll take off too.

A lot of B2B service companies struggle to illustrate their services and communicate their skills because there is nothing to actually see.

Software and digital companies have ridden this wobbly train for years because they don't make anything tangible, or anything that you can physically hold either, but their products can create infinite galaxies of possibilities. They've connected disparate tribes and far flung continents but their real successes have been to bring people closer together. Which is indeed an amazing thing.

The very best digital marketing shows people doing amazing things and almost leaves the brand unspoken (think both Google’s and Facebook’s recent TV campaigns). You have deeper and richer friendships because you use Facebook.

No actual, physical ‘thing’, just a feeling. A good feeling.

You don't have to be a megabrand to harness this, in fact many small or medium-sized businesses and B2B companies can do it better and with more honesty. They can often get closer to the customer’s real experience and can show how they solve real life business problems.

The very best sales and marketing tools are real case studies. They say, ‘Here are some of our customers, just like you, using our stuff and doing amazing things. If you use our stuff you can do amazing things too’. Look how good we all feel.

Maybe you might do fire safety inspections for ice rinks, but your work allows future Olympians to learn to skate in safety. So show them, carving up the rink. Tell their stories.

You might just be tax accountants, but one of your best customers has invented electric cars that are selling like hot cakes. You've helped them to account for their growth so plug in to their rise and go with them.

Show how your people enabled their people, and tell the world how you played a small part in their success.

Sassoon showed that shining a light on your customers’ achievements and their successes reflects back on you brilliantly. Help people to do what they do better, faster, cheaper or just more easily and they'll be happy to sing your praise.

Make your customers look good and you'll look great.