Inward Blog

Viewing entries tagged with 'marketing'

AMX launches new brand effort

I love American Express. I have been a cardholder member since 1981. I can tell you countless stories how they saved me in a variety of circumstances. Whether I was traveling abroad and needed a last-minute hotel room, prescriptions filled in Greece when I forgot my pills at home, cash advance in the UK after hours or even help change my cabin on a sold-out cruise ship, American Express was always there for me. The company and their brand are like a familiar face that I have come to rely on after all these years.

Posted by Allan Steinmetz at 12:00am

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Four stages of creating an effective Brand Ambassador program

It has been quite some time since I have addressed the topic of employee advocacy and brand championship. Having a brand ambassador program and promoting brand advocacy within an organization is a marketing imperative and necessity.

Posted by Allan Steinmetz at 1:00am

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There Is A Difference Between Branding And Marketing

I had a very interesting meeting last week with the COO of a major Fortune 100 company with revenues in excess of $5 billion and over 80,000 employees worldwide. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how to "brand" the company and accelerate a new corporate strategy of growing revenue, entering new markets, increasing competitiveness, and becoming more distinctive.
 
It didn't take long for me to realize that there was quite a bit of confusion between "branding" and "marketing." The executive appeared visibly frustrated by his previous meetings with two large and traditional brand-identity firms who talked about identity standards, design continuity, and logos. He was clear about one thing: he liked the current logo and identity and wasn't about to change them. What he was looking for, however, was a process to unite his people behind a common vision and values. He also wanted "branding" to help accelerate business development.
 
Using our Dialogue Marketing approach, I explained the difference between branding and marketing. I was, however, left wondering why many other senior executives cannot make this distinction. I'd like to take a shot at clarifying the difference, and then explain how Dialogue Marketing unites these two distinct activities into a single, integrated process.
 
Branding vs. Marketing: is there a difference?
 
I went straight to the internet and found several different definitions for branding and marketing. The best definition for a brand, I thought, was from Wikipedia:
 
A brand is the symbolic embodiment of all the information connected with a product or service. A brand typically includes a name, logo, and other visual elements such as images or symbols. It also encompasses the set of expectations associated with a product or service which typically arise in the minds of people. Such people include employees of the brand owner, people involved with distribution, sale or supply of the product or service, and ultimate consumers.
 
Defining marketing was not as easy. I found definitions that covered the gambit from advertising to a planning process to sales development and beyond. No wonder an executive who does not have day-to-day responsibilities for marketing is confused! Is marketing at a trade show branding? Is launching a new product or web site branding? The answer could easily be yes for most people, but there is a distinction that we must keep in mind.
 
Since I wasn't able find a good definition for marketing, I am providing the one we use here at Inward Strategic Consulting:
 
Marketing is a process of planning and identifying the needs and wants of a target market and meeting them through a series of integrated tactical activities. Pricing, product features, distribution/selling, advertising/PR/promotions, and retailing are all part of marketing. Its goals are to outperform the competition, create demand, and maintain customer loyalty.
 
Now the distinction between the two definitions is clear. Branding deals with the look, image, tone, and manner of the company and its products and services. Marketing is about communicating the company's brand through a planned series of integrated promotional and sales activities. It really is that simple. So why the confusion?
 
Branding companies, PR firms, and management consultants muddy the waters
 
Over the years, as definitions and activities have become blurred, people have come to see branding and marketing as the same thing.
 
One factor that has contributed to the confusion is the way that business has changed. A big part of the problem is our marketing and communications profession, with its zeal to grow revenue, develop client relationships, and expand business. The branding firms have extended their activities beyond creative identity, reputation management, and design to manage trade shows, write collateral, and produce sales events and videos.
 
Advertising and public relations firms, in addition to designing ads, logos, and tag lines, are entering new fields: interactive employee engagement, guerilla marketing, and analyst relations. Some of them even compete with their sister brand agencies. It would be in the best interests of their clients to integrate their talents and capabilities, but they are all too busy morphing into amalgamated communications companies.
 
Then there are the management consulting firms, all about process improvement, measurement, and accountability. They claim to understand and care about the difference between good and bad branding-and certainly have strong opinions if you disagree with them. But they do view branding as a matter-of-fact rather than a creative process. They measure everything, applying marketing econometrics and analytics to project customer differentials and the inclination towards improved market performance and acceptance. (Did you have to read that sentence twice to understand what it is they do?) They have process maps, formulas, and models. Boy, do they have models!
 
To management consultants, branding is a marketing process and marketing is a sales process. They, too, have contributed to the blurring of brands and marketing.
 
Dialogue Marketing makes it clear again
 
At Inward we believe that it is time to return to clear definitions of branding and marketing. While we acknowledge and reinforce that they are distinctive and different, we do need to recognize how and when they work together. What we need is an integrated approach. Here it is:
 
Branding creates a reputation, a look and image, a tone and manner, even an attitude that makes the company stand out to customers. Marketing launches that identity through sales, with an integrated plan of activities designed to reach the company's objectives.
 
These two distinct activities are unified in a single process we call Dialogue Marketing:
 
Dialogue Marketing establishes brand architecture and maintains communication with the customer throughout the lifecycle of the relationship. The process starts by building awareness. It continues with one-to-one dialogue and incentive marketing or closing the sale. Relationship marketing maintains customer loyalty with special communications and deals.
 
There are two parts to the Dialogue Marketing process: establishing the brand followed by marketing and sales development.
 
Part 1: Establishing the brand

Posted by Allan Steinmetz at 1:00pm

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“Back to the Future” with Jim Speros, EVP Communications of Fidelity Investments - Reminiscing about AT&T

The other day I had the pleasure of visiting with Jim Speros, who is the EVP of Corporate Communications for Fidelity Investments. Jim has had a remarkable career in a variety of marketing and advertising roles over the last 39 years. In addition to the last eight years he has served Fidelity Investments, he has also worked at Marsh-McLennan Companies, Ernst & Young and AT&T.

Posted by Allan Steinmetz at 11:00am

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Low Employee Morale In Ad Agencies Raises Eyes and Concerns

I’m quite confident that employee engagement levels vary by industry and job functions. In fact I know that to be the case according to both Forrester and Gallup. However, this week I saw a new piece of research from Campaign USA that suggests advertising agencies are no different from other companies across the United States. It said that 70% have low employee morale and most are looking for new job opportunities.

Posted by Allan Steinmetz at 11:00am

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Does One Size Fit All In Employee Engagement?

The other day I was approached by a prospective new manufacturing client. They had a robust employee engagement and employee brand program, but for reasons unbeknownst to him, they were not being effective. They were doing all the right things in regard to regular frequent communications, having a message that was aligned with corporate vision and mission, and a decent recognition / reward program which supported appropriate behaviors and innovations. But the programs were not having the impact he and senior management desired. He had hoped for higher employee retention, greater brand ambassadorship and advocacy in higher productivity and efficiency of performance but none of that was happening.

Posted by Allan Steinmetz at 11:00am

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5 Marketing Tips from Dr. Seuss

Many lessons can be learned from reading a Dr. Seuss book. As we grow older, his poetic lines can be interpreted differently. The fact that all ages can enjoy his eloquent, wise phrases can be credited to his true understanding of human nature. It is then no surprise that his quotes are applicable to the marketing world, reminding us that being human is the best approach to being successful.

Posted by Allan Steinmetz at 9:00am

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Tips for Boosting Your Brand With Social Media

With the number of social media channels growing, it is no wonder why most businesses focus a large amount of energy on marketing through social media.  However, simply having a page that posts bland content once in a while won’t cut it.  Customers are turning to social media to become engaged and interact with the brands of their choice.  There is nothing more disappointing as a customer than to look for your favorite brand’s Facebook or Twitter page, only to find out that one does not even exist! To fully engage and interact with customers, companies need to make sure their social media agendas are planned out properly and are in full swing.  Here are some small tips on how your company can improve its social media strategy to engage your customers and boost your brand!

Posted by Alan Steinmetz at 2:53pm

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