– Seven tips companies should keep in mind as they prepare for a new year –
As we near the end of another year, it’s not only time for companies to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work in 2013, but it’s an ideal time for organizations to start preparing for the upcoming year. Getting a jump start on planning and determining where you want to focus your efforts in 2014 will prove to be extremely valuable to those who develop a strategy ahead of time instead of waiting until January rolls around. Here are seven branding tips for companies to keep in mind as they prepare for a new year.
1. Develop a content strategy.
It’s important for companies to create cohesive and engaging material that resonates with intended audiences well in multiple forms; be that text, images, video, packaging and other marketing channels. In addition, it’s crucial to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time. You can’t just develop a cool website (it’s not 1998)… the messaging and voice need to be cohesive with your brand. It’s also important to have rules in place for how social platforms are used and how your company will respond to comments. Even if your organization has rules in place, it’s always a good idea to revisit them often and make sure all employees are on the same page.
2. Create a brand architecture.
No matter how small your organization, it’s amazing how many products and services a company can have. Creating a brand architecture will allow companies to better manage their brand and any supporting sub-brands and services; identifying the ones with greater market opportunity versus supporting roles. The development of a comprehensive brand architecture is not only a marketing exercise, but also an operations exercise. Remember the brand architecture document is strictly for internal use to help company staff understand all products and services offered within an organization and how they may be sold.
3. Look at push marketing and lead generation opportunities.
This is a good time to look at what you’re doing to get more qualified leads and create more interaction for the brand. How are you converting prospects at events? What are you doing to penetrate your intended market with mobile strategies? Keep an eye out for new tools that help companies not only make lead generation fun and interactive, but also have detailed analytics to ensure the best bang for your buck
4. Review your website.
Many brands install analytic and measurement tools on their site but you would be surprised at how many don’t actually read them. It’s important to know every aspect of how customers interact with your site and interactive campaigns, as well as how to make changes to make pages convert better….fast. This can make a huge difference in your bottom line. Ensure you’re working with someone who’s able to explain how your website is performing. It’s important to not only review your conversions and analytics, but to understand what they mean. What are you doing to create repeat business or to add value to the process? Take a hard look at conversion and site analytics to determine if all best practices are in place in your organization.
5. Go to events to be an expert.
The worst networking happens at networking events. Nobody there is looking to buy something, but everyone is looking to sell something. When planning for 2014, look to better leverage conferences by identifying where you can speak on a panel or learn something new. Don’t be there to sell… be there to create relationships that will hopefully last long-term.
6. Live your brand.
One thing we’ve learned is that a company can’t just say they are something. They need to act and live that way. In addition, every touch point of the client experience needs to reflect this. Imagine if you saw Prince (the rock star) walking down the street in Jeans and a preppy t-shirt. You probably wouldn’t recognize him because it’s NOT the brand he has portrayed to the public for years. Your business is very much the same if you are saying one thing and doing another.
7. Don’t confuse your identity with your brand.
A new logo or shiny brochure is just one small aspect of your brand. They are important, but your brand also has a voice, a message, a persona and much more. Remember that your brand is your “everything.”
While there are many areas companies can spend their time evaluating, sometimes brand takes a back seat to sales efforts. Focusing on your brand and how to improve it will play a significant role in your organizations success in 2014.