When your marketing plan aligns with your branding goals, your company becomes memorable to the masses. Nearly every business owner has goals, but how you define and carry them out often makes the difference between success and failure.
Around 84.5 percent of American companies use some type of digital content marketing. Marketing and branding are two different elements of your business’s image, but they also work together toward building an overall picture of who you are as a company.
Make sure branding and marketing align by following the 11 steps below to sync your business branding goals with your actions.
Step 1: Create your branding goals
If you don’t yet have branding goals for your business, your first step is creating a solid plan. If you already have some goals, take a few minutes to re-evaluate them and make sure they still align with your company plan.
Branding goals are tricky because the brand is how others see you. You can control some aspects of this, but not everything. Goals should include things such as how often your brand is presented to consumers and ideas for how you’d like others to see your business.
If you’re doing digital marketing, you’ve probably already aligned your marketing goals with your company’s sales goals and forecast: in order to achieve X percent growth in sales, you’re using a number of different marketing and sales tactics to increase your revenue.
Branding goals are a little different—think more about the top of your sales funnel. You’re looking to increase potential customers’ awareness that you exist. You’re also looking to increase their positive associations with your business.
Then think about the other end of your sales funnel—retaining your customers. We often talk about that in terms of brand loyalty, or more directly, their lifetime value. What will you do to keep them coming back?
Step 2: Align marketing with branding
Once you’ve solidified your branding goals, it’s time to align them with your marketing plan.
First, write out your branding goals so they are near as you work on your marketing plan. Then, create a roadmap for each quarter of the year, making sure each marketing point correlates to branding.
For example, if your branding goal is reaching 100 new people and making sure they know what your business does, then a marketing goal might tap into ways of finding them, such as adding informational videos on social media, or embarking on a PR campaign, or putting together a targeted content marketing strategy, aimed at bringing people to your website through organic search or SEO. If a marketing tactic doesn’t match your overall branding or sales goal, put it on the back burner for another time.
Step 3: Map out your customer base
If you’re a brick and mortar business, one way to approach identifying your target market—your key customers—is to map out a list of your competitors and their locations and then look at where it makes sense for you to market.
Are there any underserved areas? One technique is starting near your home base and then expanding until your business growth meets your goals. There is little point in marketing to an area that lacks your target audience. A map shows you where you should concentrate your efforts.
Another way to “map” your customers is to develop a user or buyer persona. This means looking at your ideal customer’s demographics—how old are they, where do they live, what’s their income, and so on. Use those demographics to put together a fictional—but very useful—persona. Thinking of your ideal customer as an individual person can help you target your branding voice, tone, and message, and also your marketing spend.
Step 4: Consider your mission
What does your brand stand for? What’s your business’s mission? If your branding and marketing goals don’t align with who you are as a brand, then customers won’t see you as authentic and trustworthy.
Take a step back and study the history of your company and your vision. Look back at the initial business plan you wrote before starting your business. You’ll find clues about why you started the company in the first place, which will point you to your purpose as a brand.
Once you know your purpose, such as helping single moms with childcare solutions, then you’ll understand how you want others to view your brand as well. You can then ensure your marketing and branding goals align with who you are at the core.
Step 5: Utilize current customers
One of the toughest parts of growing a successful business is building a strong customer base. However, once you have those first clients, you should utilize them for information and help. It’s market research.
Poll your current customers. What about your brand attracted them? What would they like to see improved? Take note of raving fans and ask for testimonials to use in your marketing efforts. Also, ask them to tell others who might be interested in your products or services.
Step 6: Measure return on investment (ROI)
As you begin to implement your marketing plans in service of your branding and sales goals, make sure you track metrics so you can measure the success of each campaign.
Conduct A/B testing to see if your efforts result in new customers or sales. The ROI isn’t always monetary—especially with branding goals. You might really be focusing on increasing awareness—a top of sales funnel goal. You might measure and track metrics associated with increased website visits, or video views, or social media engagement.
If your goal is gaining new leads (a middle of the sales funnel goal), then you’ll measure how many new contacts you gain from a campaign. If your goal is to increase your net promoter score, or the likelihood that a customer would recommend you to a friend (a bottom of the sales funnel goal) you might look at the number of referrals that resulted in a sale, or the number of positive reviews.
Branding, or positive association with your company and your product or service, doesn’t stop with the sale. Make sure you’re attributing sales successes to your branding efforts when it makes sense.
Figuring out what result you want and then tracking numbers shows you which efforts need to be repeated and which ones need to be replaced.
Step 7: Set longer-term goals
When you completed the first two steps of setting branding and marketing goals, you likely looked at the next 12 months. Take time to write out some long-term goals, such as where you’d like your brand to be in five years or even 10 years.
Knowing what kind of company you want to build, and what you want it to look like, well into the future can be really useful. If you don’t set a long term trajectory for your business, you’re leaving a lot to chance.
A useful framework for this type of planning is a Lean Plan—a shorter form version of a business plan. If you’ve heard of a business model canvas, a Lean Plan is a better alternative to that. It’s easy to update, and a great place to map your ideas for the long term. You can download a free Lean Plan template here to help you get started.
You must plan if you want to beat the odds, fixing weak areas along the way and adapting to rapid market shifts.
Step 8: Decide on tone
Your business, no matter what industry you’re in, has a unique personality, tone, and voice. If you sell something fun, your voice might be lighthearted and joyful. On the other hand, if you’re in education or financial services, your tone might be a bit more serious.
Choose a tone that aligns with your brand goals and use it in your marketing efforts across all platforms. Users should recognize your personality immediately, whether interacting on social media, reading an email from you, or talking to your team on the phone.
Step 9: Understand your unique value proposition (UVP)
Marketing is about the promise you make to your audience regarding what you’ll bring to the table. You must first figure out what unique advantage you offer that no one else does, and then communicate your UVP, or your unique value proposition. through all your marketing efforts.
SnackNation is one company with a strong UVP with a highly targeted audience. The brand provides healthy snacks for homes and offices on a subscription-based service. Each week, SnackNation adds about 1,200 new leads segmented into a marketing list that specifically meets the needs of that particular audience.
When you land on the SnackNation website, you’re asked to choose if you want snacks for the home or office. You are then offered a free sampler box to pick one that’s right for your needs. This is just one example of how to use your UVP to help you build a more personalized customer experience.
Step 10: Evaluate the look of your online marketing
Spend time on each platform you market on and make sure the look matches the overall appearance of your brand’s image.
If your branding goal is to show you have higher-quality products than any other competitor, but your website or Facebook page looks cheap with photos that aren’t very good, you are missing an opportunity. Ideally, you’re continuously testing and optimizing your website and digital marketing campaigns.
Step 11: Improve communication on your team
As your business grows, one challenge you might face is keeping your branding and marketing standards consistent between different areas of your team. Who is in charge of your branding? Do you have a branding guide your whole company can refer to as needed?
As a leader, make sure you’re empowering everyone on your team to be a good, consistent steward of your brand and your sales, marketing, and branding goals. Doing something new? Running tests? Let your team know so they can help and support your efforts.
Over time, you’ll probably come up with fantastic new ideas for marketing your products, but they may not align with your branding or corporate goals.
Every three to six months, spend a little time looking at plans for branding and marketing and making sure everything still meshes together. Make any adjustments as needed and re-evaluate goals as your company grows.
With a little attention to detail and a lot of communication, your marketing and branding will work together and increase your customer base steadily.