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Brand Continuity: Are Marketing Continuity Mistakes Costing You Lead and Sales?

Brand continuity refers to a consistent brand experience across all channels and platforms. A company (or person if we are talking about personal branding) should have consistent messages and a consistent visual identity on all platforms over time. Many companies make brand continuity efforts that can negatively impact their ability to generate leads and brand loyalty.

In television or movies, a continuity error is an error in which a plot point isn’t followed through or changes. A good example of a continuity error is Star Wars. In Return of the Jedi, Luke asks Leia, “Leia, do you remember your mother?” and she says something inane like, “She was very beautiful – and very sad.” Yet in the next trilogy, the ones that are supposed to take place before Star Wars, we see that Padme, Leia’s mother, dies a few minutes after giving birth to Luke and Leia. Therefore, Leia cannot really remember her mother. As it was originally conceived, Padme fled with Leia to the planet Alderan to escape Anakin/Darth Vader, Leia’s father. This is an obvious continuity error.

Why Are Continuity Errors Bad?

Continuity errors are bad because they jar the viewer from the storyline and remind the viewer that they are participating in fiction. They occur in movies and television because different writers are used throughout the series.

Series are supposed to have what is called a ‘character bible’. I have one for my mystery novel series, I Believe You and I See You. It is a book in which you log all the major descriptive factors about a character as well as major life events. This ensures that when you mention the life event in different books throughout the series, it is referenced the same way. For my novels, David Majek, the central character, lost his wife to a hit and run car accident. The date, the location, and the events leading up to it are important and memorable. To ensure I always refer to it accurately, I have logged it into my character guide.

Brand Continuity Errors and the Impact on Marketing Success

So what does all of this have to do with marketing? Well, in marketing we have characters called personas. And their storyline is like a movie, book, or television show character: the hero’s journey. How you tell that story in marketing is branding. And one of the biggest mistakes that I see in marketing is the lack of brand continuity, or marketing continuity, as companies tell their story.

Companies often forget that the story centers around their customers. The story is about the customer’s hero journey, not their hero journey. They also shift their focus too much, moving from one brand point to another. Today, we’re all about diversity and equity, tomorrow about saving the environment. Today, we talk about Product X, tomorrow, Product Y.

The problem with lack of brand continuity is that less the continuity of brand messages, the more confused your customers get. If your messages and visual appearance or jumbled, inconsistent, or garbled, customers will move on rapidly to the competitors. They aren’t going to invest the mental energy into untangling your tangled branding. You must be clear and consistent to gain brand equity and mindshare.

Branding and Content Marketing Are Long-Term Strategies

Branding, and content marketing, are long term marketing strategies; by long term I mean 18 months to three years. These two tactics should be part of the marketing mix, but you must continue with them consistently for months and years. If you start, stop, or change direction, you will confuse your customers. Customers do not like to be confused. They want clarity. When your brand messages are clear, customers are clear on what you sell. Over time, this clarity builds trust, and trust builds brands.

Continuity Mistakes Make People Confused

Continuity errors in movies or television shows jar audiences out of the storyline. Instead of being immersed in the story, they are suddenly reminded that they are viewing a story. The same holds true for brand continuity mistakes. They remind people they are being marketed to, and nobody likes to be marketed to. Instead of feeling vested in the brand, they feel confused, and feeling confused is unpleasant. So they shop with a competitor who leaves them feeling good about themselves and clear on what they are buying or who they are interacting with – in other words, competitors who offer brand message clarity.

Brand Guidelines Are a Tool to Prevent Brand Continuity Errors

If your company suffers from branding continuity errors, take a cue from the world of fiction: create a ‘brand bible.’ Like the visual guidelines for a company, a branding bible spells out the audiences and messages for the brand. And while there can be theme and variation on the audience and messages, they shouldn’t vary too much. Sticking to the branding script ensures continuity, audiences following the storyline, and ultimately, memorable branding and messaging.

Don’t change brand strategy often. Develop your messages and stick with them. If you must change messages, do so with purpose, and then hold to the new messages for 18 months to three years. Other people may have different timelines, but this is the timeline I have seen work for many businesses, so I offer it to you as an example.

Be Consistent In Your Branding Efforts

Brand continuity errors and mistakes are one area I see many small and growing businesses make with their marketing. Consistency, brand reference guides, and ensuring an organization-wide commitment to branding success is the key to reducing and eliminating brand continuing mistakes.


An Overview of Marketing Tactics - Use the Right Marketing Tool for the Job

Are you using the right marketing tactics to achieve your business goals?

The right tool for the job makes the task easier. The same goes for marketing. Choosing the correct tactic to achieve your goals is vital to your overall marketing plan success.

Too many executives, however, hear or read about a particular tactic, and then it becomes their pet tactic. They go to a seminar that talks about Facebook advertising, and suddenly, they want their marketing team to enact a Facebook marketing plan immediately – even though their target customer is on LinkedIn or the company has already tried Facebook advertising and gotten no results.

I can’t tell you how many meetings I have sat in as a consultant and heard company leaders demanding to know why this tactic or that one isn’t being done as if a particular tactic is a magic bullet that will fix their marketing problems.

There’s no magic bullet, and there is no one ‘right’ marketing tactic to solve your particular problem. However, there are some guidelines about what tactic to choose based on the specific situation you want to solve. Below is my list. It is not the only list. However, it should serve as a sound general guideline for those who wish to use it. As with all things in marketing, test, measure, repeat what works, and discard what doesn’t. Give any campaign enough time to make an impact before changing things. And always – without exception, without fail – focus on your audience and where and how they like to receive information.

Examples of Marketing Tactics and The Goals They Achieve

Advertising

Print, television, radio, display, digital, social media ads
Best for lead generation, direct product sales, and acquisition marketing (such as building up an email list for future marketing). It can also be used for branding and product awareness.

Direct Mail or Email

Direct mail (old-fashioned “snail mail”), email marketing

Best for direct product sales and lead generation. Email marketing through newsletters is good for retention, i.e., “keep in touch” marketing with your customers.

Content Marketing

Blogs, articles, case studies, white papers, videos, podcasts.
Best for thought leadership, awareness, and branding. It can be used for acquisition marketing but is usually not an immediate lead generation or sale opportunity. Excellent for brand awareness, building brand loyalty, and developing an audience.

Events and Conferences

Exhibiting at a trade show and attending industry events.
Best for networking, brand awareness, and long-term acquisition and retention.

Marketing Tactics – The Right Tool for the Job

Again, let me stress that the list shared above offers guidelines rather than rules about which marketing tactic to choose for your needs. Often, these tactics are adapted or adjusted to support various strategies. Multiple tactics are used together (called an omnichannel marketing strategy or an integrated strategy) to produce the desired results.

This is where choosing the right marketing tools becomes an art rather than a science. Companies that struggle to solve a business problem, such as lead generation, high customer churn, or poor brand awareness, should work with an experienced marketing consultant. Experienced marketers have faced similar problems and have seen which campaigns worked (and which didn’t) to solve the problem. They can apply these learnings to your business and make better, informed suggestions.

So before you insist that “we should be doing a podcast” or “we should start a blog,” sit down with your most experienced marketing person and instead state the problem to be solved. Don’t try to guess the tactic or use the tactic in vogue. Not every marketing approach fits every situation. Pick the right tool from your marketing toolbox to achieve the desired result.

Prefer to listen to an article? This article is available on our podcast, Bricks, Brambles & Bytes on Podbean!

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Let’s talk about how I can help you develop your brand, communicate it with confidence, and build a content marketing powerhouse that generates leads, supports sales, and provides solid marketing.

 

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Phone: (434) 574-6253

Mobile: (434) 808-4163

Email: jeanne@sevenoaksconsulting.com


FCC Bans AI Robocalls: What About Other Marketing Using AI?

Listen to the Podcast or Read the Article

In this week’s edition of Bricks, Brambles, and Bytes, I spoke about the new ruling by the Federal Communications Commission regarding AI use in robocalls.

 

For those who are unaware, robocalls are automated, pre-recorded telemarketing messages. Have you ever picked up the phone and heard a recorded female voice say, “Your Google listing is…” (I don’t know what comes after that because I always slam down the phone). That’s a robocall. Robocalls are prevalent during election season. Politician A records his endorsement of Candidate B, and the parties use automated dialers to phone every registered voter in the precinct to hear how much Politician A loves Candidate B.

 

The FCC’s new ruling states that marketers using AI to create voiceovers for robocalls must disclose them. Now, for many people reading this, the ruling has no bearing, right? You don’t use robocalls as part of your marketing, so why should you care?

 

You should care because this is just the tip of the iceberg. The use of AI is controversial – highly controversial. It was so controversial that when an astute journalist realized that Sports Illustrated had weird phrases in their articles and did a little digging, he discovered that not only were they likely using AI to write the articles, but the ‘writer profiles’ were bogus, too. Nothing was real. He pulled back the curtain on the SI Wizard of AI. And like the famous Wizard of Oz, Sports Illustrated said, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” and tried to scrub all of the AI-generated content from their site. It failed. It failed miserably. Readers rebelled, sponsors fled, and the venerable magazine declared bankruptcy.

 

So, where does that leave you? You’re a business owner. AI is free to use (at least it is now, but that may change.) Why pay for content when you can use AI?

 

Just as Sports Illustrated found out the hard way, using AI without disclosing its use can lead to a huge loss of trust in your brand. How much is that trust worth? Quite a lot. Trust is earned slowly over time when your company keeps its promises to its customers. Brand promises are taken very seriously by customers even if they recognize them subconsciously. Once lost, trust may never be regained. And, with a loss of trust, sales, and opportunities are lost.

 

Marketers who dabble with AI need to be cautious. AI certainly has its place – as a great resource to improve headlines, write social media messages, and summarize original works. It can be used to outline articles and help you get past writer’s block or “blank page” syndrome, that frozen feeling when you start at a blank page and know you are expected to write 1,000 words or more on a topic. All of this is fine for use as a software tool.

 

What AI cannot do is write original content. Everything it creates is cleverly plagiarized from millions of web pages, books, and other documents it has ingested over time. It may read well and pass the SEO duplicate content test, but it is not original.

 

AI also comes with a lot of quirks, some of which are bizarre. It messes up gender quite a bit, switching genders even if writing about a person identified as male or female; it sometimes goes off on weird tangents or makes statements that are incorrect, and when confronted with this, insists the mistake is correct. The infamous “There is no country in Africa that begins with the letter K” AI-generated response is a case in point.

 

As more and more regulatory bodies buckle down on the use of AI, expect to see additional laws like the one enacted by the FCC this week. They are moving forward with the ban on AI voiceovers in robocalls to prevent election fraud, a preemptory move that I think most people would applaud. The courts must quickly tackle the use of AI to create fake images. The Pope in a puffy white rapper coat is funny; downloading a random photo of a person and using it to create porn isn’t, but that’s where the state of AI imagery is at in this brave new world of ours. And someday, the ability to mimic written tone may be there, too.

 

 

Ready to get to work?

Let’s talk about how I can help you develop your brand, communicate it with confidence, and build a content marketing powerhouse that generates leads, supports sales, and provides solid marketing.

 

Contact Us

Phone: (434) 574-6253

Mobile: (434) 808-4163

Email: jeanne@sevenoaksconsulting.com


The Power and Pitfalls of Cause Marketing: Aligning Values for Success

Conscious Connections – What Is Cause Marketing? Summary

What is cause marketing? This article explores the concept of cause marketing, highlighting its definition and importance in today’s business landscape. It emphasizes the necessity of aligning the values of companies, nonprofit partners, and target audiences for successful campaigns. Real-world examples such as TOMS’ One for One Movement and Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign illustrate effective implementations of cause marketing. Additionally, the article discusses the pitfalls of misalignment and provides insights on how businesses can avoid them. Ultimately, it underscores the significance of authenticity and genuine connections in creating impactful cause marketing initiative.

Listen to the Podcast on Cause Marketing

Human hand is touching a cute little doggie paw through a fence of a adoption centre.

Cause marketing has become a prominent strategy for companies aiming to make a positive impact while enhancing their brand image. But what exactly is cause marketing, and how can businesses ensure its success? In this article, we delve into the concept of cause marketing, explore real-world examples, and discuss the crucial element of aligning values to create impactful campaigns.

 

What Is Cause Marketing?

At its core, cause marketing involves a partnership between a company and a nonprofit organization with the aim of mutual support. This collaboration typically centers around activities such as fundraising, raising awareness, or providing general support for a shared cause.

 

Aligning Brand Values for Success

The key to effective cause marketing lies in aligning the values of the company, the nonprofit, and most importantly, the target audience. This three-dimensional alignment forms the foundation for successful campaigns. Companies must identify their core values and seek out nonprofits that share those values. By engaging in activities that resonate with both entities’ values, companies can foster genuine connections with their audience and the community.

 

Real-World Examples

 

TOMS One for One Movement

TOMS, a footwear and apparel company, is well-known for its One for One movement. For every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS donates a pair to a child in need. This initiative aligns with TOMS’ core value of social responsibility and has garnered widespread acclaim for its simplicity and impact. By tying every purchase directly to a charitable contribution, TOMS has successfully integrated cause marketing into its business model, fostering customer loyalty and making a tangible difference in communities worldwide.

 

Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign

Dove’s Real Beauty campaign is another notable example of cause marketing done right. Dove, a personal care brand, launched this campaign with the goal of challenging beauty stereotypes and promoting body positivity. Through various initiatives such as the Dove Self-Esteem Project, which provides resources and workshops to promote self-confidence among young people, Dove has aligned itself with a cause that resonates with its audience. By championing authenticity and inclusivity, Dove has not only enhanced its brand image but also sparked important conversations about societal standards of beauty.

 

American Express’s Statue of Liberty Restoration Fund Campaign

American Express launched a groundbreaking cause marketing campaign by pledging support for the Statue of Liberty Restoration Fund. This initiative aligned seamlessly with American Express’s brand identity, which is deeply rooted in American heritage and patriotism. By associating itself with the restoration of one of the nation’s most iconic symbols, American Express not only demonstrated its commitment to preserving cultural landmarks but also tapped into a sense of national pride among its customer base. The campaign’s success showcased the power of aligning brand values with a meaningful cause, resulting in increased brand loyalty and positive publicity for American Express.

 

 

The Pitfalls of Misalignment

However, cause marketing campaigns can fall flat when companies overlook the crucial aspect of aligning values with their audience. Merely capitalizing on popular trends or issues without considering whether they resonate with the core values of their target demographic can lead to missed opportunities and even backlash.

 

Avoiding Missteps

To avoid such pitfalls, companies must prioritize understanding their audience’s core values and ensuring alignment with both the chosen cause and the nonprofit partner. Rather than chasing transient trends, businesses should remain true to their own values and seek authentic connections with their audience through meaningful cause marketing initiatives.

 

Make the Cause Your Own

Cause marketing holds immense potential for companies to make a positive impact while enhancing their brand reputation. By carefully aligning values with nonprofit partners and target audiences, businesses can create impactful campaigns that resonate deeply with consumers and contribute to meaningful social change. In the realm of cause marketing, authenticity and alignment are the keys to success.

 

Our Cause

This week, members of Seven Oaks Consulting’s team will support the Southside SPCA, our local animal shelter. We attend their annual Valentine’s Day dinner. We also support the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, a wildlife rehabilitation, education, and awareness center in northern Virginia. While not true ‘cause marketing’ campaigns, both nonprofits resonate with one of my personal core value: compassion for animals and care for the natural world. We’ve found that these values resonate deeply with our team (one of our audiences) and our customers (our most important audience). And while someday I hope to do a true cause marketing campaign, I’m proud of my team for choosing the SPCA as their cause to support.

Ready to get to work?

Let’s talk about how I can help you develop your brand, communicate it with confidence, and build a content marketing powerhouse that generates leads, supports sales, and provides solid marketing.

 

Contact Us

Phone: (434) 574-6253

Mobile: (434) 808-4163

Email: jeanne@sevenoaksconsulting.com

Prefer to listen to an article? This article is available on our podcast, Bricks, Brambles & Bytes on Podbean!

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Marketing Strategy Review: Are You Stuck Doing Pot Roast Marketing?

Prefer to listen to an article? This article is available on our podcast, Bricks, Brambles & Bytes on Podbean!

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Here at Seven Oaks Consulting, “pot roast marketing” is an in-joke. It refers to how companies often fall into the trap of doing the same marketing year after year just because it’s always been done that way.

  • They go to the same trade show every year because they’ve always gone…despite the fact that they haven’t gotten a lead there in years.
  • They produce YouTube videos because someone said “everyone in your industry does this” and so they do them even though it’s a struggle.
  • They send the same emails out because the CEO loves them.

The Marketing Metaphor of the Pot Roast

The term pot roast marketing comes from an old story I was told many, many years ago. In this story, a young bride cooks a pot roast for her husband for the first time. As he bites into the first forkful, he chews thoughtfully and says, “Honey, this is the best pot roast I’ve ever eaten. But why did you cut the roast in half before cooking it?”

“I don’t know,” she answers, “but my mom always cooked it this way, so that’s what I do, too. Let me call her and ask.”

So the woman phones her mother, and her mother doesn’t know the answer, either. “Well, that’s the way Grandma always made it, so that’s how I make it, too. Let me call her and ask.”

When the two women get on a call with Grandma, Grandma bursts out laughing. “Oh my dears,” she laughs, “the only reason I cut the pot roast in half is because I didn’t have a pan big enough for the full piece. I had to cut it to make it fit. Don’t tell me you were making it this way all along and didn’t know why?”

That’s what happens in marketing departments. The “pot roast” is a project, perhaps a campaign, that someone initiated years ago. Once, it was successful, and so it became standard operating procedure. No one has questioned it since. But, when examined carefully, it reveals itself as a drag on time and resources, and underperforming activity that can either be set aside or changed to go with the times – and be a productive campaign once again.

 

A Real-Life Example of a Pot Roast Marketing Strategy

Company Made 5X Investment Once They Fixed Their Marketing Problem!

 

I experienced the phenomenon of pot roast marketing many years ago. A company I was working with had a direct mail piece that was a ‘prime’ example of pot roast marketing. It was stale and tired. It cost them a bundle to mail each year – and lost around $30,000 in the process. But they insisted, to the last breath, that they had to keep sending out that mailer ‘because it’s always been done this way and everyone in our [target market] expects it.”

 

Even though it’s not considered best practice to change multiple things in a direct mail piece at one time, I did it with this one because they had nothing to lose – it was costing them money and they weren’t getting the desired results. I asked their creative director to change the appearance of the piece, giving it a modern edge. Their list broker cleaned the list, removing duplicates and adding new audience segments. We even changed the timing of the piece, moving it back a few weeks.

 

The results? This old pot roast that originally cost them $30,000 each year now made them over $500,000! In simple terms, for every $1 they invested in the production of the direct mail piece, they received $5 back in product sales. And we saved $100,000 in mailing costs by cleaning up the list.

 

This small example shows you how pot roast marketing can stall even the best companies. This company was supportive of their marketing and invested heavily in all channels, including direct mail. Yet they had a pot roast on their hands. It took an outside voice – me, a marketing consultant – to help them sniff the pot roast out from their midst.

 

Key Marketing Insights: Takeaways

Look for every opportunity to get the pot roast out of the oven – to identify marketing activities that are among the annual tactical plan simply because it’s always been done that way or it’s a pet project of an executive. Question everything. Analyze the data. If it’s not helping you meet your acquisition, retention, or brand loyalty goals, change it or sunset it. But don’t keep doing a marketing activity because “it’s always been done that way.”

a pot roast cut in half

Ready to get to work?

Let’s talk about how I can help you develop your brand, communicate it with confidence, and build a content marketing powerhouse that generates leads, supports sales, and provides solid marketing.

 

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Phone: (434) 574-6253

Mobile: (434) 808-4163

Email: jeanne@sevenoaksconsulting.com


How Can Manufacturers Leverage Content Marketing?

Manufacturers might think that content marketing only works for consumer-facing industries. The reality is that it’s effective for B-to-B brands, too. Content marketing can help manufacturers establish expertise, connect with their audience and drive conversions. Here’s a primer on how manufacturers can employ content marketing to get results.

5 Ways Manufacturers Can Use Content Marketing

  1. Deliver thought leadership: Manufacturers can elevate their brand by creating content that speaks to trends, challenges and innovations in their industry and that of their clients. Articles, whitepapers, case studies and reports are examples of this content in action. No one wants to be on the other side of a sales pitch. However, innovative thinking is usually well-received because there’s no pressure to convert.
  2.  Educate the audience: Content marketing allows you to educate your community about manufacturing process, product features, benefits and how it can serve their company. To that end, manufacturers can create how-to videos, guides and tutorials to help customers make more informed buying decisions.
  3. Showcase products and solutions: Create content that highlights your products’ features, capabilities and applications. For example, you could develop detailed product descriptions, video demos and comparison guides to help show off your widget and real-life functionality.
  4. Tell your brand story: Manufacturers can use content to highlight company history, values, mission and employees and their craft. A genuine brand story helps build trust and emotional connections with the parties you’re trying to reach.
  5. Customer success stories: Share success stories and case studies that showcase how your products or solutions have helped customers overcome challenges and reach new heights. Real-world examples can help prospects envision themselves as your next success story.

 

Incorporating content marketing into your overall marketing strategy is a sound marketing investment. By focusing on educating and providing value to their audience, manufacturers can build lasting relationships that go beyond transactions.

Ready to get to work?

Let’s talk about how I can help you develop your brand, communicate it with confidence, and build a content marketing powerhouse that generates leads, supports sales, and provides solid marketing.

 

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Phone: (434) 574-6253

Mobile: (434) 808-4163

Email: jeanne@sevenoaksconsulting.com


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Difference Between Content Marketing and Content Strategy

Content marketing and content strategy are related concepts, but they have distinct focuses within the broader realm of content creation and marketing. Here's a breakdown of the key differences between content marketing and content strategy.

Differences Between Content Marketing and Content Strategy

Content marketing and content strategy are related, with content marketing a subset of strategy.

The strategy provides the overarching framework for creating and managing content, encompassing elements like content planning, governance, and workflow. Content marketing, on the other hand, specifically focuses on using content as a marketing tool to attract, engage, and convert customers.

However, content marketing and content strategy are essential for a comprehensive and effective approach to content creation and marketing within a business context.

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is the practice of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and engage a target audience. The goal is to drive profitable customer action by providing content that meets the needs and interests of the audience. It involves producing content such as blog posts, articles, videos, social media posts, and more to build brand awareness, generate leads, and nurture customer relationships.

The ultimate objective of content marketing is to drive customer behavior, whether it be making a purchase, subscribing to a service, or taking some other desired action.

What Is Content Strategy?

Content strategy is a broader, more comprehensive approach that involves planning, developing, and managing content throughout its entire lifecycle. It encompasses the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content that aligns with business goals and meets user needs. A content strategy involves defining the purpose of content, identifying the target audience, and ensuring that content is produced, organized, and maintained in a way that serves both business objectives and user needs.

The primary objective of content strategy is to align content creation with business goals, ensuring that the right content is produced and delivered to the right audience through the right channels.

Examples of Content Strategy

Content strategy involves planning, developing, and managing content to align with business goals and meet user needs. Here are a few examples of content strategy in action.

Brand Storytelling Strategy

Brand Storytelling builds brand identity and connect with the audience emotionally.

Strategy: Develop a narrative that communicates the brand's values, mission, and personality. Create a content plan that incorporates consistent storytelling across various channels, such as the brand's website, social media, and marketing materials.

User-Generated Content Campaign

User-Generated Content (UGC) Campaign increases audience engagement and authenticity.

Strategy: Develop a content strategy that encourages users to create and share content related to the brand. This can include social media campaigns, contests, or features on the brand's website showcasing user-generated stories, photos, or videos.

SEO Blog Content

SEO Blog Content improves search engine visibility and attract organic traffic.

Strategy: Conduct keyword research to identify topics relevant to the target audience. Develop a content calendar for regular blog posts that address these topics while providing valuable information. Optimize content for search engines by incorporating relevant keywords and providing high-quality, shareable content.

These examples illustrate how content strategy can be applied across different aspects of a business to achieve specific objectives, whether it's building brand identity, increasing engagement, improving search visibility, or nurturing leads through the sales funnel.


What Is Brand Equity?

Brand equity refers to the intangible value that a brand adds to a product or service. It represents the perception and attitudes consumers have towards a brand, and it can significantly influence their purchasing decisions. Like many aspects of marketing, equity is built over time through various marketing and branding efforts, and it reflects the overall strength and value of a brand in the marketplace.

What Are the Key Components of Brand Equity?

There are numerous components that build equity in a company's brand.

Brand Awareness

The degree to which consumers recognize or are aware of a brand. Higher awareness often leads to higher  equity.

Brand Associations

The mental connections and associations that consumers make with a brand. These can include attributes, benefits, values, and even emotions linked to the brand.

Perceived Quality

The perception of the quality or superiority of a brand's products or services. If consumers believe a brand consistently delivers high-quality offerings, it contributes positively to the brand's value.

Brand Loyalty

The level of customer loyalty and repeat business a brand enjoys. Strong brand equity often results in increased customer loyalty and a willingness to choose a particular brand over competitors.

Brand Image

The overall impression or reputation of a brand. A positive brand image contributes to higher equity, while negative perceptions can diminish it.

Brand Identity

The visual and symbolic elements that represent the brand, including logos, taglines, and other brand elements. A cohesive and well-defined brand identity contributes to its equity.

Brand Personality

The human-like characteristics and traits associated with a brand. Establishing a unique and relatable brand personality helps build a stronger connection with consumers.

Brand Trust

The level of trust consumers place in a brand. Trust is crucial for building and maintaining a brand, as it influences consumer confidence in the brand's promises and consistency.

Brand Differentiation

The distinctiveness that sets a brand apart from its competitors. Brands with a strong point of differentiation often command higher brand equity.

Market Positioning

The position a brand occupies in the minds of consumers relative to competitors. Effective positioning contributes to brand equity by establishing a clear and favorable space in the market.

Brand Equity, Your Most Valuable Asset

Equity is a valuable asset for companies as it can positively impact business performance, market share, and the ability to command premium prices. Companies invest in building and maintaining brands through consistent branding strategies, marketing communications, product quality, and customer experiences. A strong brand can also provide a buffer during challenging times, helping companies recover more quickly from setbacks or crises.


What Is B2B Marketing?

B2B is an acronym for “business-to-business,” meaning businesses market products and services to other companies as opposed to the consumer segment. B2B marketing means "business to business marketing" or selling products or services from one business to another business.

Examples of B2B Marketing Companies

Here are a few examples of B2B companies:

  • An accounting firm that works with corporate accounts
  • A commercial real estate company
  • A commercial print shop 

Elements of a B2B Marketing Plan

A Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing plan is a strategic document outlining the marketing goals and strategies for a business that sells products or services to other businesses. The components of a B2B marketing plan typically include:

Executive Summary

Briefly summarizes the key points of the entire marketing plan, including business objectives, target market, and major initiatives.

Business Overview

Provide an overview of the company, its mission, vision, values, and key differentiators in the market.

Market Analysis

Analyze the industry and market conditions, including trends, opportunities, and threats. This section may include a competitive analysis to understand the positioning of the company relative to competitors.

Target Market and Buyer Personas

Define the specific businesses or industries the company is targeting. This may include creating detailed buyer personas to understand the characteristics, needs, and challenges of the target audience.

Marketing Objectives

State measurable goals the marketing plan aims to achieve. Objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Positioning and Value Proposition

Articulate how the company wants to be perceived in the market and communicates its unique value proposition—what sets it apart from competitors.

Product or Service Description

Provide detailed information about the products or services offered, highlighting key features and benefits relevant to the target audience.

Marketing Strategies

Outline high-level approaches and tactics the business will use to achieve its marketing objectives. This may include content marketing, digital marketing, events, trade shows, partnerships, and other channels.

Sales and Distribution Channels

Describe the channels through which the company's products or services will be sold and distributed to businesses. This could include direct sales, partnerships, distributors, and online sales.

Budget

Set the budget allocations to different marketing activities. This helps ensure that resources are allocated effectively and in alignment with strategic priorities.

Timeline and Milestones

Break down the B2B marketing plan into a timeline with key milestones and deadlines. This helps in tracking progress and staying on schedule.

Metrics and Measurement

Identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be used to measure the success of marketing initiatives. This includes metrics such as lead generation, conversion rates, customer acquisition cost, and customer lifetime value.

Implementation Plan

Detail how the marketing strategies will be implemented, including responsibilities, timelines, and any specific action plans for each marketing initiative.

Monitoring and Adjustment

Outline how the plan will be monitored and evaluated regularly. In addition, include how you plan to address issues that arise from performance data.

By including these elements in a B2B marketing plan, businesses can create a comprehensive and strategic roadmap for reaching and engaging their target audience, ultimately driving growth and success in the B2B marketplace.

Tactical Ideas for B2B Marketing

Marketers should use a variety of strategies to reach decision makers in the B2B space. The most effective approach is considering those that cater to your specific needs and target audience.

Examples of B2B Marketing Tactics

Regardless of your combination of methods or approaches, an intentional approach to B2B marketing is key to success. That can mean taking these steps in this order:

  • Develop a vision
  • Define your target market
  • Identifying marketing tactics and channels
  • Launch your campaign

Success of any B2B marketing campaign hinges on knowing the frustrations and goals and of their target audience. Cost savings and ROI are usually the primary motivators in this context. However, these drivers come with unique set of challenges. B2B marketing speaks to the impact on the bottom line. That means marketing teams need to concisely and authentically communicate value to the decision maker. 

 


a desk with flowers and a turquoise notebook

What Is Affinity Marketing?

Affinity marketing, also known as co-branded marketing, means that two organizations join forces. It has the potential to elevate awareness, exposure and the overall stature of both brands. In some cases, the two parties might launch one product or service together. This arrangement is known as “co-branding” and can be an effective way to reach current or new audiences in different or new ways.

Affinity Marketing Best Practices

Choose the Right Partner

Company leaders should consider whether the other business owners share similar values, customers, or offer products that align.

Ensure the Partnership Serves Both Interests

The best arrangement is fair to both partners. If either feels like the other is benefiting more or not contributing, it’s not going to be sustainable.

 Define Roles

As is the case with any business endeavor,  it’s important that both partners grasp and agree to the outlined roles and responsibilities for the sake of clarity and curbing potential conflict. Two entrepreneurs who might want to plan and execute a trade show event, for example, must discuss who’ll pay for the display and any marketing material. 

Examples of Affinity Marketing

Sometimes it's easier to understand a concept when you see examples. Here are several examples of affinity marketing.

Affinity marketing involves creating partnerships or collaborations between brands with similar target audiences but non-competing products or services. These partnerships aim to leverage the existing customer base of one brand to benefit the other. Here are three examples of affinity marketing:

Starbucks and Spotify

Starbucks, a global coffeehouse chain, partnered with Spotify, a music streaming service, to enhance the in-store experience for customers. The company's rewards program members were given the opportunity to influence the music played in Starbucks stores and create personalized playlists on Spotify. This collaboration allowed both brands to tap into each other's customer bases, as coffee enthusiasts could discover new music, and music lovers could explore Starbucks offerings.

Uber and Spotify

Uber, a ride-sharing service, collaborated with Spotify to offer passengers the ability to control the music during their rides. Riders who connected their Spotify accounts to the Uber app could play their favorite music from the moment they stepped into an Uber. This partnership enhanced the overall customer experience for both services, making the ride more personalized and enjoyable for passengers while promoting Spotify to a broader audience through the Uber platform.

American Express and Airbnb

American Express, a financial services company, teamed up with Airbnb, a platform for short-term home rentals. The partnership allowed American Express cardholders to link their cards to their Airbnb accounts, providing them with special offers and discounts. This collaboration was designed to encourage American Express customers to use Airbnb for their travel accommodations while providing Airbnb with exposure to a segment of financially affluent travelers.

Affinity Marketing - Beneficial to Brands

These examples illustrate how affinity marketing can be mutually beneficial for brands by allowing them to reach new customers, enhance their offerings, and create unique experiences that resonate with their shared target audience. Affinity marketing relies on the principle that the customers of one brand are likely to have an interest in the products or services of the partnered brand, creating a win-win situation for both parties involved.