By Gina Morin, Design Intervention
Now that we have defined the Core and Identity Levels that make up your brand, it's time to get it out there and let your audience know you exist. This third pillar is, what I like to call, the Communications Level (although I've seen it also defined as the Experiential Level and Brand Management).
If you haven't done so already, please go back and read the details that define the other two branding pillars:
There are so many ways to communicate your brand message to your audience. The channels you choose will depend on who you are as a business and what your budget allows. Some digital channels include your website, social media, email marketing, videos, ads, etc. Print channels include direct mail, signage, media kits, brochures, etc. There are also channels on the air like radio, podcasts, and television.
Where to Start
STEP 1 - Strategize: With so many choices, how do you decide where to start? Overwhelm is something that happens to all of us. Others often tell us with the best intentions that, "you should make videos" or "you should get on Instagram" or "you have to do a blog." There's nothing wrong with any of those things unless they don't fit into your budget and don't make sense for YOUR business.
Your best marketing plan gets generated by the discovery you did in your Core and Identity Levels. All that work will now help you strategically determine which channels align with your positioning and where you can best reach your target audience.
STEP 2 - Prioritize: So now that you have strategically chosen the best channels for you, you have to decide which ones to tackle first, second, etc. To help you prioritize, determine the channel that is most crucial. Maybe you know email marketing is critical, and that's your priority. After that, it might be time to start engaging on social media. Or perhaps a direct mail campaign makes the most sense for you right now. Regardless of what you choose, having a phased approach will help with the overwhelm and budget management (which is the next topic).
STEP 3 - Budget: How much can you spend at this stage in your business? Remember, it's not just the cost of the channel itself (print cost, ad cost, etc.) there may also be the cost for design or subscription fees, postage, web hosting, etc. Since you prioritized your list in step two, you can start with the marketing channel that is going to have the most significant impact on your business without dropping your entire budget on too many things at once.
Phasing into each piece of your marketing will allow you to budget for more and more as you grow. At some point, you may be too busy to write and publish that blog yourself, and you will need to hire a writer or a social media strategist. Or maybe you have realized that you can be more efficient by budgeting for two or three direct mail pieces a year and you hire a designer. (Tip: You can save on postage by using EDDM, which is a service provided by the US Postal Service.)
STEP 4 - Measure: With any marketing campaign, you have to measure the results. If you skip this step, how will you know if you are moving in the right direction? To make your marketing most useful, remember to ask yourself these four questions with any communications piece or marketing campaign:
- Is this (ad, post, blog, postcard, etc.) consistent with my brand values and mission?
- Does it have a concrete objective with a measurable result so that I can see the return on my investment?
- Is this piece going to engage my target audience and invite them to take action?
- Was this campaign successful? Should I repeat something similar or move onto another strategy/marketing channel/message?
Pulling it all together
To get where you need to go, you need to know where you are starting from and defining your Core and Identity Levels will help you take, not only the next step but the most effective step on how to best strategize your marketing plan.
Ready to build your brand and grow your business? Let's chat!