PR’s Domain is the New SEO

Over the last couple years, Google has been changing its algorithm to improve its ability to deliver search results that satisfy site visitors. As a result, earned media, the domain of PR, is now central to a company’s SEO standing.

Do you want to see the history of the algorithm changes? Hubspot has a good infographic.

The major shift started with something called the Panda update in 2011. In a nutshell, Panda meant Google began to increase the value of quality over quantity. If your site provided high-quality information then the SEO rewards were yours for the taking.

Then in 2012, they upped the game with the Penguin update. With this update, SEO firms began to lose hold of their ability to manipulate SEO with spammy links from link farms.

Then in the summer of 2013, Google’s Hummingbird update started to fly. This update improved Google’s semantic search capability with a better understanding of intent and context. It rewarded sites with content matching the way people actually search and most likely to deliver what users are seeking.

In May 2015, more than one SEO professional probably left work crying. The Phantom update, which become known as the Quality update, took the value of quality to new levels. Some sites reported losing as much of 50 percent of website traffic. Although the specifics are mysterious, Google has provided some guidelines on quality. They suggest useful, unique, informative, engaging and valuable content. Extra points if you make it specific. In short, deliver a good user experience.

If you have not drastically overhauled your SEO practices in the last few years, you are probably paying the price. So what does this mean for marketers? How does it change your action plan in 2016? Let us review the changes and what it means to you.

Be relevant and add high-quality value

Provide high-quality information relevant to your target customer’s needs. Provide insights on today’s topics using natural language. Rid your site of spelling and style errors. Use unique research and citations, and cut excessive ads. Thought leadership campaigns can provide valued expertise and original thought from the innovators in your company.

Build real relationships to associate with authoritative sites

Use PR to focus on building backlinks from sites with authority. Build long-term relationships with credible media sites, industry analysts and popular bloggers.

Speak to your customer’s intention

Don’t sell, in order to sell. Write content that delivers on the visitor’s central user intention. Know what your customers are looking for in an unaided fashion with their search. Directly address the customer need. Don’t write like a robot. Use conversational language with long-tail keywords.

Amplify, engage, interact

Attract the right visitors by amplifying your content via social media that tells them exactly what they will find. This improves your user experience once a user gets to your site. Deliver regular content updates to keep it fresh. Encourage a real conversation with your company by using comment boxes, social media widgets and call-to-action buttons.

Be transparent and personal

To build credibility and trust, be clear about your specific accomplishments. Provide testimonials from real customers. Invite reviews from credible reviewers and industry analysts to validate your claims. Participate in industry award programs to gain credit where credit is due. Use author biographies.

Bring your content to life

When delivered the right way, infographics, video, podcasts and images will improve your site’s user experience. Add a personal touch with images of your team and product.

When reviewing the core competencies needed to deliver on the new SEO reality, it is easy to see that traditional marketing firms are no longer the best solution. PR is central to SEO success. Traditional PR, digital PR, content optimization and social media are the building blocks of the new SEO. With established influencer relationships, the PR professional’s skillset is suited to build credible backlinks and encourage engagement and interactivity. Tools and processes that amplify content are already mastered by PR professionals. And perhaps most importantly, from the beginning of time, PR required a deep understanding of customer needs. In 2016, you will certainly see this shift in responsibility.



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Analysis Framework to Strengthen Content Clarity

Are you on a quest to improve your marketing content? You’d be hard pressed to find a marketer in today’s world that is not. The volume required as micro-content needs expand is just one challenge. The quality, and therefore the clarity of that content is another.

A strategic foundation makes content RUN (Relatable, Unique, New). Without the RUN factor, your content is meaningless to your company’s goals and irrelevant to your target audience. Now lets go a step further. If your content is strategically aligned, but the reader can’t understand what you mean then you have a whole other problem – clarity.

When you dive down into the nitty gritty, clarity can be improved at the content interview stage. You must have clarity on how each piece of information fits in order to organize the content. How you organize the information on the page helps the reader organize the information in their mind. If properly filed in the prospect’s mind, it is more likely to be used by the target market as the marketer intends.

The logical organization, and proper labeling, of information is the biggest roadblock to clarity. Much confusion can be traced to the concept of proper data labeling. What information are you working with? What exactly is each data point? How does it relate to the other data points? How does it relate to the total story? As marketers gather information, you will notice that each data point has a complete story, and that story helps it relate to the total story.

Lets examine what this means to the content gathering stage of content creation. Each data point as delivered by the content source most likely has an existing label. As an example – according to the content source, the originating data point may be defined as a benefit, or a “why.” Now take that further in your questioning of the content source. How does it do that? Who cares? What does it do? When is that appropriate? Perhaps the originating data point is a “what.” It defines what we can do. Then you have to ask why? What is the benefit? How do you make that happen? And so on, and so on. You can play that game forever with each data point. And, you should.

As you play this game of expanding each data point, you will see patterns. You will see what is relevant, and you will bring clarity to the content piece. This graphic illustrates the complete picture of each data point.

Originating Data Point

VisiTech PR’s key to content clarity via analysis of each originating data point.

You can use this thought process to expand the meaning of each data point. As a result of your understanding, and organizing your data points, you will have what is needed to properly organize your content and dramatically improve its clarity.

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The Truth of Communicating with Techies, Wrapped in Dilbert Smiles

Tech marketers know that insightful content is as important as silicon. The challenge is… content does not grow on binary trees. You work to get a brain dump, even a small cookie of information, and all you find is a 404. So what does a tech marketer do when they are completely cached out on driving content? The knowledge owner (aka the “techie”) needs data mining.

Working in tech PR and marketing for more than 20 years, I have learned a few things about working with tech talent. Like Oprah, with about 3 billion less dollars, I also know some things for sure. One being that there is wisdom in the saying, “A joke is a truth wrapped in a smile.” And, when it comes to wisdom regarding communicating with techies, Dilbert is the Dali Lama. Here is the support manual. Enjoy.

Know your audience

Truth: Tech folks veer towards the introverted and quiet side. In many cases, the ability to clearly communicate in layman’s terms conflicts with the genius techies inherently bring to the table.

Tip: Recognize that a group discussion can be difficult for people who are introverted. Schedule one-on-one meetings to help a techie feel more comfortable sharing information. You can also share an agenda or questions prior to the meeting to help the interviewee process information internally before the meeting begins.


DILBERT © 2011 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.

Set the stage for respect

Truth: There are some techies that don’t recognize, or appreciate, different types of talents and intelligence. This can lead to a condescending attitude towards those that lack deep technical knowledge, even though your communication, organization and strategic skills might be superior.

Tip: Do your homework. Know the tech basics and bring intelligent questions to the table. Don’t make the techie educate you on elementary concepts. Maximize your time by asking the right questions to collect value-add information during your meeting.


DILBERT © 1993 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.

Sell the concept – The need to take credit

Truth: Many techies don’t see value in marketing. They think customers will simply happen upon their technology once developed. While it is certainly possible to find examples of “build it and they will come” success stories, if you look behind the scenes, there was most likely some sort of marketing driver.

Tip: Ask questions that help the techie realize the value in marketing to get credit where credit is due. What do they feel their company is not getting credit for? What are they most proud to have developed? What was the most difficult technical challenge that they were able to overcome?


DILBERT © 1996 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.

Invite explanation of jargon

Truth: Your techie lives in a technical world and interacts with technical people all day long. They can sometimes have a difficult time differentiating the knowledge and vocabulary of the non-technical person. What seems like clear, easy to understand language to you might sound condescending in their world.

Tip: When non-techies talk to techies, it is important to ask questions when the tech-speak gets too jargon heavy. If you work in the same industry, you many understand the common jargon. New jargon may need explanation. Let the techie know what is understood by mere mortals and what is not. Use active listening to repeat back what you heard and ask for correction.


DILBERT © 2010 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.

Get to simple concepts to avoid getting lost in the weeds

Truth: Part of what makes a technical genius a technical genius is the ability to work at the detail level. When it goes too far, techies may get lost in the weeds of unnecessary detail. That can be a challenge for marketers tasked with uncovering the conceptual level to create story hooks.

Tip: Ask questions that invite broad overviews, limited answers and summary statements. Example: What are the top three things that are most important about how this software is architected?


DILBERT © 1989 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.

Gain perspective and dig for the unique factors

Truth: Technical talent can be so focused on creating specific technical capabilities that they lose sight of the significance of the technical accomplishments. Unless asked, they may not communicate what is absolutely unique.

Tip: Ask questions to determine what is truly unique. Examples: What do our competitors do better technically? How long would it take us to catch up? What are your most important patents? What gets you most excited about the technology?


DILBERT © 2007 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.

Discuss the applications

Truth: In the end, the only thing that matters is what the technology does for the customer. If the application of that technology is low value and there are better ways to solve the problem, the technology is useless. This concept can sometimes be overlooked by a techie and make it necessary to guide conversations toward applications versus technical abilities.

Tip: Ask questions that tie to real world use and the technology’s place in the market. What does it do? How does it do it? Why would I want it? What can customers do now that they could not do before? How does this differ from the way customers have addressed this problem in the past?


DILBERT © 1990 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.

Back up claims

Truth: If trying too hard, a techie’s attempt at simplification can go overboard and go direct to claims. The techie may attempt to skip the hard part of simplifying their job into layman’s terms and just tell you what it can accomplish. Claims are good. At the same time, they require explanation if they are to hold any marketing weight.

Tip: Ask questions that provide the proof of concept behind the technology. What metrics can we use to prove the capabilities? What claims will be hard to believe? How can we make them believable? Exactly how do you accomplish this?


DILBERT © 2011 Scott Adams. Used By permission of UNIVERSAL UCLICK. All rights reserved.

It takes all types and we need each other. These little truths wrapped in smiles can help create a more joyful communication bridge between the techies and marketers.

Make Your Content RUN – Relatable, Unique, New

Great content starts with great questions. In the tech marketing world, there is a computer science concept that we regularly refer to as the root cause of most content development issues. The concept is GIGO – garbage in, garbage out. The quality of output is determined by the quality of the input. When it comes to marketing content (or any content for that matter), the quality of information you collect from the knowledge holders is vital to producing content with depth. GIGO is a simple concept. However, without the right interviewing and collection skills, avoiding GIGO is easier said than done.

The importance of content marketing, and the required micro-content, has risen as we need it for both traditional PR and social media including corporate blogs, plus direct marketing and email campaigns, sales materials and even internal communications. This leaves many marketing executives overwhelmed and frustrated with an increased need for content, and less time to produce it as the responsibility scope of marketers continues to broaden.

How can you relieve a little of that pressure? The answer is simple. Decrease the time spent on producing quality content by improving the questions in the interviewing phase of content generation.

At first interview, start with questions that will make your content RUN. What makes content RUN is when you dig to find what is Relatable, Unique, and New.

Some basic questions are a good place to start. These can be asked for every piece of content you write, including product news, blog pieces, and thought leadership opinion or customer stories. The right questions will drive a standard of content that both makes sense and has a strategic backbone.

Here is a chart to guide your questions.

VisiTech PR's questions to make your content RUN

VisiTech PR’s questions to make your content RUN

Content that RUNs is more valuable. It is useful and encourages creative and innovative thought; it drives action in the target market and encourages social media engagement. Just a little extra boost can make your content marathon that much better. Once it is a habit, you will get a runner’s high and may even enjoy the task of high quality content creation.


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Are You a Brand Consultant’s Puppet or a Magical Thinker?

I am going to make a bold statement. Brand consultants should not be hired to create a brand for you. Why? Because it’s impossible for them to create your brand for you. Those that say they can are just making you the puppet in their brand development play.

I’m not saying brand consultants cannot be extremely valuable. I’m saying that brand consultants should be hired to help you create your brand, not create it for you. You and your collaborative executive team are the creators of your brand. If a brand consultant knows more than you about your company, your industry, and your customers and prospects, you are in big trouble. No new brand is going to help.

When you are stuck, like many are, in the brand creation process, just know that the answer is within you. You just need help finding it.

A good consultant helps you think. They skillfully guide your brand creation process for the ultimate brand result.

Brand consultants come from many different backgrounds and perspectives with two main options.

  • Visual – These consultants have a background in advertising, graphic design or web development. For the visual brand to be a true reflection of the company’s depth, the visual brand consultant should be brought in after the conceptual brand is in place.
  • Conceptual – These consultants come from communications consulting, social media content, marketing content or a writing background perspective. A conceptual brand requires a consultant with the depth of domain and communications content experience. This background is your best bet at developing a properly differentiated brand and avoiding common brand creation mistakes.

For the purposes of this discussion, I am talking about developing a conceptual brand, not a visual expression of the brand. In this case, your brand consultant needs to bring the following methods, skills and talents to the table:

  • Structured methodology to organize and redirect misguided detours.
  • Strategic perspective to layout alternate ways to proceed on the fly with the ability to see relevant patterns and issues.
  • Thought provoking insights to bring new ideas and creative energy when the team is stuck.
  • The experience and confidence to challenge the team and help highlight the blind spots.
  • Real time ideation to collaboratively craft and refine the team’s thinking based on big picture analysis that finds connections, or missing links, between seemingly disparate data points.
  • The ability to transcend time, seeing both the here and how and the future of the business, so that the brand has a clear direction and path to greatness.

When a brand consultant brings this to the table and the company team is engaged and knowledgeable, this is how brand magic happens. Who helps you think magically?

Why All Business and Marketing Strategists Should Meditate

I am qualified to write this post because Jack Kornfield bowed to me. It happened several years ago on a 10-day silent meditation retreat that ran over Thanksgiving at Spirit Rock, an insight meditation center about 90 minutes North of San Francisco. Several days in, with my subconscious letting go and all my senses heightened to extreme sensitivity, the emotion of walking, alone, into the Thanksgiving meal, with one of the meditation instructors softly playing the guitar, was just too much for me. I cried as I walked through the meal line. Jack Kornfield was helping serve the meal and saw my tears. He looked into my eyes and bowed. In Buddhism, bowing is an acknowledgment that self-and-other are not separate. Now that I have established my credibility, lets move on to the credibility of meditation in general.

Fast Company reported the Three Reasons Everyone At Google Is Meditating. The tech giant offers “Search Inside Yourself” and “Neural Self Hacking” as part of its employee training offerings. They even have areas for walking meditation on its corporate campus. And, as further evidence of meditation’s popularity among the business and technology elite, more than 2,000 people attended the Wisdom 2.0 summit this year in San Francisco.

It’s not that new. Oracle’s former CEO, Larry Ellison, requested that his executives meditate three times a day. In Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson, Issacson shares that Jobs used Zen meditation as a brain training technique. He quotes jobs as saying,

“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things–that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.”

With all this mindfulness-based activity, it’s hard to ignore the benefits of meditation. These include the ability to pay focused, nonjudgmental attention to the present moment. Meditation also promises to improve powers of concentration, unlock productivity, enhance creativity and deepen self-awareness. It is scientifically proven to help reduce stress, manage emotions and reducing emotional reactivity. Meditation has also been proven to increase compassion and empathy via what some believe includes a higher level of energy vibration inter-connectedness.

If you are ambitious like me you may be tempted to say, “give me that” and go for it full gusto to achieve all those benefits ASAP. I want life changing insights, joy in this very damn moment and no worries about my future or unhealthy attachment to the past. Oh, and I want to be calm under fire. And, I want that now please. Ironically, striving to reach those goals via meditation may be counterproductive. The practice is just to be and notice what is there in this moment. The Buddha instructed, “not too tight, not too loose.” You have to go Nike and Just Do It and eventually you will notice these natural results of practicing meditation.

A popular reason to begin mediating is for stress reduction. Part of VisiTech PR’s employee training program includes taking Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a program founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

I highly recommend the Institute for Mindful Leadership, which covers the aspects of mindfulness for leaders, including mindful listening and communication. The workshop I attended, taught by Janice Marturano, founder and executive director of the non-profit organization, was an inspiring reminder of how leaders can change the world one organization, or department at a time.

So, I am going to add one more benefit of meditation to the mix, which is specifically applicable to every business and marketing executive – strategic processing abilities.

There is a long list of meditation benefits that are foundational skills for strategic and critical thinking. The list includes analytical processing, creativity, multi-level listening, clarity, focus, sharpened intuition, innovative insights and understanding of human behavior and motivations.

Each of these skills don’t work independently to deliver brilliant strategy. It is the integration of these capabilities that drive true, deep strategic thought. With that in mind, you realize strategy is not a skill that can be taught. You can teach the research level and the methodologies of strategy. As a result, many people believe they are delivering strategy when they are actually delivering disconnected ideas that will not work because of a missing element. You can’t teach an integrated strategic analysis process that results in insights. Strategy is an ability that must be trained for and developed in the most inner workings of the human mind.

So, if you want to work on your ability to deliver great strategy, the first step is to sit there and just be.


Four Strategic Brand Insights for Collaborative Customer Communication

Everyone’s talking customer collaboration. Adobe’s blog post Customers Don’t Want to be Marketed to and That’s Great shares important insight on the state of the customer’s expectations from marketers. Shifting from marketing at customers to providing value to customers through meaningful conversations leads to increased word of mouth. The customer journey is becoming fluid with a set expectation that a company will listen, and respond appropriately. The customer’s wants, needs and desires are being formed on a whim, as they proactively seek information to make informed purchasing decisions.

FutureLab’s The DNA of a Successful Customer Experience shares a strong summary of Nunwood’s 2015 US Customer Experience Excellence Report. This report assesses brands on six pillars of customer experience: personalization, integrity, time and effort, expectations, resolutions and empathy. The 10 companies that scored the highest on these pillars had almost 10 times greater increase in share price than the average company. Seems worth it to me.

How can you extend the pillars of a great customer experience into your communications campaigns and provide an online collaboration experience that supports the current customer expectations. Here are four steps to get you started.

See Customers With a Beginner’s Mind

When it comes to customers, stop making assumptions. Bring a fresh mind to the table by listening with authentic interest, not to find data to support your hypothesis. A little old fashioned research may be in order in the form of focus groups, surveys, customer boards and roundtable discussions. Leverage social media monitoring, LinkedIn groups and influencer audits to look for insights. Throw out open-ended questions and see what returns. It is also wise to have someone outside of sales periodically talk to prospects and customers.

Understand Your Connection Points

Technology makes it possible to find a whole slew of data. Integrating your marketing analytics and marketing automation tools to leverage and include media coverage and social media can show marketers how to respond meaningfully, and to create new connection points. Where are your customers coming from?

What are the moments along the customer journey that demand a shift in content and an opportunity to respond with something meaningful? Ever since Google published the eBook, Winning in the Zero Moment of Truth, all marketing, public relations, social and digital professionals are looking for those moments. Google’s Micromoments promises to deliver more data in that arena.

Align the Brand with the Journey

When you are creating a brand, the new marketing environment requires a multi-level conceptual brand. You must segment the customer and segment the journey to properly segment the brand. Understand the marketing fundamental of segmentation and how each segment experiences the sales process from problem awareness, to evaluation, to preference to choice and action. The brand needs to tell the story – from needs to dreams. The brand should create a vision for customer happiness.

Craft Clarity of Value

What is real value? How can you help customers understand and connect the dots to meaningful value? Your content must speak in layers. Customers are seeking information, versus having information pushed to them. What value are they seeking? Knowing this can create clarity in the connection between value and brand. It is not about just creating a brand feeling, brands must be expressed so they incite a customer to favor your brand, and then purchase.

When your company’s communications consider these four factors, you will be on the right path to market with your customers, not market at them.


Four Barriers to A Properly Differentiated Brand

Last week I shared a study that clearly indicated that too many marketers are not minding their company’s marketing fundamentals, especially competitive differentiation. If you think you might be one of them, you are not alone. This is something I see as a challenge for many companies in my consulting work on branding and communications strategy.

I think there are several reasons why less than half of B2B marketers are implementing the disciplines required to professionally differentiate their company’s brand and communications. I summarize my observations below.

  • Unrealistic Expectations

Unrealistic expectations may be self-imposed or could come from internal pressures within your company. It could be a control issue that prevents the marketing team from bringing in the help of experts, or caused by decision makers that lack marketing experience. To find out if you can meet expectations, you need the answer to one question. Do you have the current team in place to provide the research, expertise, information, analytical skills, methodologies and perspective to deliver a solid differentiation? Strong differentiation usually requires a team-based approach with both in-house company expert resources and external marketing consultants to bring facilitation and a broader perspective.

  • Corporate Politics

An ugly fact that marketers everywhere need to face is that everyone thinks they know how to market, even the professionals that are not in marketing. It appears easy from the outside. Professionals who are experts in other disciplines may think their vote should count as much as the professionals with the marketing line of business expertise. Unfortunately, due to company politics, this is often the case and the marketing suffers.

  • Lack of Resources

Research, analysis and the application of marketing discipline takes experienced expertise, time and money. Unfortunately, it is all too common to have company goals that do not properly match allocated resources. Even in a recession, it is well documented, including in these AdvertisingAge and AdWeek articles, that brands that continue marketing and resist cutbacks improve market share and minimize drops in revenue compared to companies that cut marketing in flow with the economy.

  • Critical Examination

Last but certainly not least, a lack of critical examination is the killer of a truly differentiated brand. Unrealistic expectations, corporate politics and lack of resources can all lead to the fate of a weak, fluffy differentiation that does not stand a chance in fighting through industry noise. Play it too safe and suffer. Drink your own Kool-Aid and die. Critical examination is often seen at its best in collaboration with an external consultant that takes the role to question beliefs, arguments and group think. Companies regularly confuse sales check box items, business goals, customer benefits, buzzwords or jargon as differentiating statements. In the B2B tech world, these might include: innovative, scalable, flexible, customer-oriented, robust, future-proof, expertise, next generation, disruptive and best-of-breed. You must rise above this shallow level of marketing if you want to stand apart and win.

If you think your company is lacking in solid a differentiated story, could one of these issues be holding you back?

Study Confirms – It’s Time for B2B Marketers to Reconsider Marketing Fundamentals

MarketingProfs’ post Key B2B Marketing Challenges and Strategies provides a summary of findings from research firm B2B International on the key challenges facing B2B marketers.   The study shows that in comparison to the UK and Germany, U.S. marketers see the biggest challenges, although not by a huge margin.  So my review will summarize the U.S. results.

B2B marketers listed their top challenges as:

  • Innovation – 72%
  • Market share – 57%
  • Countering the competition – 45%
  • Increasing brand awareness – 43%

It appears to me that these are all related to a lack of attention to the marketing fundamental of proper differentiation. Differentiating a company is a multi-dimensional and analytical task that is more complex to create than would appear at first glance.

Are marketers skipping critical steps in the strategic marketing process that will set the company up for branding success? It appears so, as U.S. marketers report:

  • Only 27% are doing competitive analysis and benchmarking. This is an obvious oversight, as 45% want to counter the competition. Counter what?
  • Only 42% are using sophisticated segmentation that considers customer likes, behaviors and needs. With 72% seeing innovation as a challenge, you can see why.

The study is clear. Given the prioritized challenges, marketers have not prioritized the tasks that provide the backbone required for solid differentiation.

Without a clear view into the competitive landscape and a detailed look at customer likes, behaviors and needs, it is no surprise that the study reports that marketers rate the strength of their unique selling proposition (USP) an unimpressive average 5.8 out of 10. How can you develop a USP if you don’t understand your competitors and customers? With this knowledge, how do you address the value needs of the market?

Without a solid foundation, it is no surprise that 56% of marketers see a significant challenge with building the company’s brand and effective communication strategies. This cannot be ignored. In the end, a company’s brand and communications strategies all support revenue.

Revenue growth is a concern for 31% of marketers. Given the number of marketers that do not believe they have a grasp on the fundamentals of differentiation, I think that percentage should be higher. Differentiation is critical for attracting new customers, entering new markets, maintaining and growing current clients.

Is it time to reconsider your marketing fundamentals?

Why Your Brand Must Be Expressed And Cannot Be Marketed

There is a universal challenge for all CMOs — getting everyone in the company speaking with one voice. When this does not happen, brand confusion prevails. This ideal of unified communication is rare because companies try to market their brands, not express them.

Why do company’s market versus express brands? Sometimes it is the result of a poor approach to brand development, resulting in a mediocre brand that nobody wants to talk about. Maybe there is not a strong conceptual brand backbone and the conversation starter is non-existent. Perhaps the branding team has not taken the time to create a proper values foundation.

Let’s consider the worst possible reason for a brand to have difficulty with expression. The horror of horrors – it is just not true. A brand that is not based in authenticity is impossible to market successfully. It won’t stick.

On the contrary, if a brand is conceptual and includes clarity, solid differentiation, market relevance and the ability to connect on an emotional level with the buyer, it has potential.

Once a conceptual brand is developed, operational alignment with the brand creates the backbone to express your brand. What you do, and how you represent yourself in every interaction must be highly congruent with your brand.

If your brand is true:

  • The stories that support your brand will exist.
  • Your employees will be proud of the work they do that supports the brand and they will want to tell people about it.
  • Your customer service professionals will have a framework for how they handle each customer.
  • Your sales and business development people will believe in what they are selling and be more successful as a result.

With authenticity, the momentum and strength of word-of-mouth marketing will grow exponentially. It will be contagious. One unified company voice is really the result of the authenticity of your one unified company brand. Brand evangelists are born out of reality. Is your brand worthy of expression?