by Andrea Wiley
I hope you are lying beachside as you read this, but something tells me you are wishing the same thing as you sit at your desk scarfing down a so-so sandwich between meetings.
We are busier than ever, taking less and less time for ourselves, let alone our brand. Distractions pop up everywhere and divert our attention from where it really needs to be focused.
Remember that young Millennial, fresh out of college, you interviewed 18 months ago that you didn’t hire, but who recommended you could use an updated logo and website, and by the way, she had a hard time Googling you? You were annoyed, maybe even slightly offended, but ultimately you knew she was right. Then you did nothing about it. Your problem grew, but you continue to ignore it because there are so many other things that seem more pressing.
Is it still a problem if it is out-of-sight, out-of-mind? Yes. It is. And it is getting bigger every day. Your brand is more than just a logo. Your brand is made up of many things: the interior design aesthetic of your office, your fashion sense, the kinds of cars in your parking lot or bikes in your hallway, the holiday gift you gave (or didn’t give) your clients last year, even how the receptionist greets visitors when they walk in the front door. Some of this probably sounds pretty superficial, but let’s face it, first impressions are everything.
But before you can even make a good impression, you must identify whom you are trying to impress. Understand where they are — physically, emotionally, socially, financially — what their daily online activity looks like, what their story is, and how your brand can fit in organically (or seemingly so).
Should you snap it, tweet it, post it, gram it, pin it, video it, email it, text it, print it? Just as easy as it is to fall into the trap of doing something “because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” it can be equally misguided to do something because it is the new cool thing to do. But whether it is the hottest trend or the old standby, it doesn’t mean that’s the best way to engage your target audience.
Today, all the lines are blurred: the separation of church and state, the difference between politics and pop culture — what the heck is a Labradoodle anyway? Marketing, advertising, and public relations are no different thanks to the daily evolution of technology. When I was in journalism school, there were rules. Not so much anymore, and no one seems to mind. The delivery mechanisms appear to be endless; you don’t know where to start, so you are paralyzed into doing nothing. Bad idea. Because your competitor isn’t doing nothing, and they are about to knock you out.
I’m a believer in keeping it simple. And at this complicated time that is the hardest thing to do. Which is why you need to rely on expert marketers to guide you in the right direction. You already have all the answers; you just need a third party to eliminate the daily distractions to reveal what matters most.
Be confident in your area of expertise and recognize that if it isn’t in a creative field, you need to find some super smart folks to get in your corner so you can start throwing some punches at your competition.
Memphis has over 40 firms and countless freelancers that specialize in marketing, branding, advertising, public relations, web development, creative consulting, and so on. It just depends on your needs, your budget, and frankly, who fits you best.
Don’t default to getting your nephew on the case even though he’s a Millennial who has taken a few design classes. You wouldn’t hire him to take out your appendix if he had taken a few courses in medical school. Your brand is delicate and deserves the best care that only experts can provide.
Be bold. Do something great. Partner with a talented and experienced marketing team that not only understands where your brand is today, but also can help you visualize where it needs to go.
Andrea Wiley is an adjunct professor of advertising in the University of Memphis Journalism Department and the 2015-2016 president of the American Advertising Federation (Memphis Chapter).
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