The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Member Blog: It is all About Building Your Brand

By David Wright, a Director at B2B marketing communication specialists BSA Marketing 

A number of things have conspired over the last week or so to make me think carefully about what digital marketing is all about, and the realities of SME marketing and growth in the digital age.

What got me thinking were discussions with three clients (all SMEs) about our work with them.

Each is focusing on a different priority:

  • Leads and short term business development
  • Analytics and measurement
  • Brand, and tone of voice in communications

Since the 1980s I have worked in marketing in both the corporate and SME worlds, through the birth and growth of the digital marketing age.

In my experience, corporates (successful ones at least) focus on building the brand, whilst SMEs tend to focus on generating leads and short term business development.

Perhaps this is not too surprising as traditionally, building the brand has been an expensive process that is beyond the resources of smaller companies, whilst taking the short term approach, many SMEs are able to build a reasonably successful and profitable business - up to a point.

However, to see real success and growth, maybe companies need to look longer term and think more about building their brand.

I believe this is where the real potential of digital marketing lies for SMEs.

Looking at how digital marketing services are often sold and it’s too often about the short term:

  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Google/Social Media Advertising
  • Website Conversion Optimisation
  • Optimistation of the sales funnel


These are all sold (by some web marketers) as “magic wands”. They can be relatively easy to sell as they seem to offer highly measurable, short term benefits. However in my experience, they too often disappoint!

Now don’t get me wrong, they are all potentially vital elements of successful marketing programmes, but my suggestion is that by focusing on them as the ultimate goal you are focusing on the wrong thing.

Let’s face it, all really successful companies have one thing in common. They have a strong brand, and marketing is focused on maintaining and developing that brand as a platform. By telling their story in a way that is relevant and attractive to their target market, people see the benefit they can get so do business with them and, assuming their business model is sound, sales and profitability tend to follow. Within this context the elements described above become tools in the process of building a brand in a planned and measured way. But the ultimate goal is the development of the brand, not the optimisation of individual metrics.

“That’s great in the resource rich corporate world” I hear you say, “But how does that relate to me?”

I would suggest that through digital marketing, every micro and SME business now has the potential to build a brand and to deliver the successes associated with this that used to be only accessible to large, rich corporations. But by focusing on the short rather than long term they are missing out on this opportunity.

Let’s look at the process of building a brand. I see it as a simple four step process:

1. Understand what your business is about, and the value that you offer

2. Understand your market and how they will perceive this value

3. Use this to build your brand story

4. Engage with your market to tell your story using the tools offered by the digital age

I accept this is easy to say, but slightly more difficult to bring to reality!

Even so, developing a strong brand is well within the capacity of most business owners, and ultimately can deliver! However it does require a shift in mindset and the willingness and resources to commit to investing (and yes, it is an investment) in marketing communication.

The digital marketing tools now available mean that your investment need not be substantial, is not always purely financial, and is well within the reach of most micro and SME businesses.

BSA Marketing specialises in supporting businesses through this process, and helping clients to build their brand using digital marketing. Furthermore, we can access financial support to assist SME businesses who would like to explore the process of brand building as a route to profitable growth.

If this has inspired you to rethink you marketing and want to explore the possibilities, for your business, we would love to talk to you. Email davidw@bsamarketing.com

www.bsamarketing.com 

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