Let’s talk about cows. Specifically, let’s talk about how more than a century ago, cattle ranchers used branding irons to differentiate which animals were theirs in the herd. No wonder a lot of folks directly associate the word “brand” in business with a company’s logo: but, over the last few centuries, the word brand has evolved to include a lot more.

marketing and measuring sticksThink about it: I say Giant Tiger, you say “GT Boutique;” I say “Tim Horton’s,” you say “Timmies.” There’s a whole emotional experience that goes along with that business, right?

So how do you influence the way people feel about your brand? It’s definitely not through that newspaper article or billboard or direct holiday mailer. That’s advertising, and it’s a part of it, absolutely: but it’s an incomplete picture and a missed opportunity if we say it’s only that. Your brand is the sense of trust and personal alignment customers feel when they think about the business: and the way to accomplish that is through marketing.

Here’s a pretty straightforward definition to work with: 

Marketing is getting the right goods and services to the right people, at the right place, at the right time, with the right communication and promotion. 

What’s an important takeaway in that definition is that marketing is all about connection. Think about it: sometimes you meet someone and there’s that instant click. And then sometimes, you know within 7 seconds that the person you’ve just met is the wrong fit for a job, a task, or a relationship. Having the right people, then, is key. Marketing is a targeted strategy to have meaningful conversations with those people. Smart brands, from University of Berkley to Apple, know that making a bold statement about who their product is perfect for (and by default who it isn’t) helps them target people who have buy in to their brand… literally. When used effectively, advertising can be targeted, too: but sometimes, advertising is a loud and inclusive effort to broadcast to everyone who’s listening. This can be potentially polarizing and downright annoying, right?

“At the right place and time” means understanding the ways those right people are going to interact with the decision to buy. It’s scary to narrow your market, we get it. Are they the kind of people who are more likely to claim email offers, or scan social media? Would they respond to a waving road side figure, or be offended by it? This is valuable information to figure out what kind of communication and promotion, or advertising, to purchase. 

Since consumers are constantly bombarded by advertising, they’ve naturally become suspicious and distrustful of corporations and traditional advertising. Cutting through the noise and inspiring trust is most effectively done through inbound marketing efforts: SEO, content marketing, or social media. The goal of inbound marketing, says Forbes, is to build your brand up to a certain level of reputation and that customers naturally find you when they execute their ability and right to research their purchasing decisions.  And if, as estimates suggest, 81% of consumers do research online before buying, this marketing is a useful investment of your time, especially if it doesn’t seem immediately lucrative. 

Marketing is a slow and steady effort. It has to be: you can’t effectively inspire trust overnight. According to Salesforce, in today’s marketing and sales landscape with all our diverse digital communication channels, it takes a while, 6 to 8 touches in fact, to land a sale. 3 of those must be significant before someone goes from considering to interacting with your brand. Think of the difference between a non-direct Tweet mentioning the company name, and a video of an owner baking in his store (raw, unpolished) and the ability to order a free sample of the product from their site. What goes into making sure those touches are meaningful, consistent, and trust-worthy is a hard thing to calculate and measure in terms of your ROI. But its long-term value is worth your reputation, isn’t it?

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