According to a Forbes Insights survey, 69% of CEOs said they think their companies waste money on marketing initiatives.
Unfortunately that’s not a view limited to small companies that will often have to make the hard call between investing in their marketing or buying a new piece of equipment. Indeed – many large companies also struggle to understand the long-term strategic benefits of investing in their brand.
Having worked in the advertising, branding and marketing industries for more than 20 years, it’s still one of the most common issues that we encounter and the bugbear of countless marketing teams the world over, who struggle to justify the importance of what they do.
So here are some insights that might help you bring the CEO or board – on-board to give you better strategic support and the resources you need to get the job done:
Create a brand story that engages more audiences.
Start by asking yourself, who is the company’s brand story actually relevant to? A good brand story will be relevant to a wide array of audiences, not just your customers and staff.
Experience has taught us that by strategically expanding your marketing to reach key stakeholders, i.e. investors, analysts, commentators and lobbyists can have a significant impact on the company that no CEO or board can fail to recognise. A strong brand presence has the potential to drive up stock prices and other brand metrics and also ensure your company attracts the brightest employees.
Show how the brand build and drives company culture.
This is something we’ve talked about before, but your marketing and branding strategies need to be inward facing as well as outward. A strong brand and intelligent marketing play a crucial role in building and reinforcing a company’s internal culture.
Team up with your HR department, identify the role your brand plays in attracting the best candidates in the market and monitor staff motivation levels during campaigns to show increases in productivity.
Be the driving force.
We’ve all seen those TV shows where everyone sits around the boardroom table nodding and agreeing with everything the CEO says. But in today’s competitive market, companies need drivers – people that have the courage, vision and ambition to get things done.
It’s not enough just to know what your own company is doing, you need to understand what the market your brand is operating in, is doing – and you also need to understand what your competitors are doing.
Knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have, the better equipped you’ll be to drive your branding and marketing activities ahead of your competitors and achieve sector control.
Don’t be afraid to ask your agencies what they are seeing or doing in other markets. They won’t tell you what they are doing for other clients, but they can often give you an insight into a new or emerging trend that you can adopt and present as a solution to your CEO in a pre-emptive strategy that will catch the competition with their hands in their pockets.
Equally important – have the confidence to walk away from a strategy if you find it doesn’t work. One of the biggest problems many brands face is that no one wants to be seen to ‘make a bad call’, so instead of calling out something that doesn’t work, everyone will mumble about it in the background, but never move to fix it.
Prove your strategy works with hard facts.
Back when I first started in this industry, the ringing of tills indicated that a strategy was working. Today, you have access to many more analytical tools – so use them and understand how to interpret them.
Show the CEO or board that your strategy is backed up with hard data and not just fanciful guesswork. Use the analytical tools at your disposal to monitor and tweak your strategy for better effect.
But be realistic about the data you are getting and don’t follow it blindly – listen to customers and staff that are customer facing. They will give you an invaluable insight into the real-world effectiveness and relevancy of your strategy.
Choose battles you’ll win.
One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to persuade the CEO or board to change their view on branding and marketing investment is that they start by suggesting the need for a major cash injection. That’s not going to happen. So look at how to validate the effectiveness of your marketing spend and start with clever solutions that simply require project approval as opposed to funds.
You can also suggest reallocating funds from one part of your marketing strategy to test-bed a new approach. By showing the CEO or board that you are being innovative in your thinking and experimenting with new approaches without expecting fresh funding, you are much more likely to get sign-off on new strategies and engage their interest. By proving your thinking is right on small projects, you are much more likely to earn their trust and support when it comes to undertaking a major new strategy.
I knew you were going to say that.
Before you present your marketing strategy to the CEO or the board, prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more. Use your knowledge of the personalities you’re presenting to and anticipate the questions they’ll ask and be realistic about the difficulties they will raise and the problems they will identify. Have your answers and solutions ready to any of the barriers you know or anticipate will be raised.
Also – you might want to think about lobbying support for your proposal before going into the presentation. Share your ideas with key influencers that will have the ear of the CEO or board. Get their input as if they identify issues, you can be sure the CEO or board will as well.
Remember – the CEO or board will often not have the information you have and are making their decisions on a fraction of the knowledge and or market intelligence you have. This often manifests itself as the default mode of ‘’let’s not rock the boat”. You don’t have to rock the boat, but by understanding and validating your reasoning, you can navigate the boat around the rocks.
Reassure the CEO or board with real-life case studies or examples of other companies that have used their marketing to push ahead. This helps diminish the risk factor and gives the CEO or board the comfort of knowing that they are not the guinea pig.
Benchmark yourself against best-in-class companies and competitors.
There will always be a default company or brand’s marketing success that the CEO or board reference and admire. Use that knowledge to your advantage. Make it your job to understand the strategy and tactics that company is using and explain why your proposed strategy will work by referencing those successes.
You also need to come out of the ivory tower. One of the most common mistakes marketing teams make is to view their brand and marketing is isolation to the competition. You only have to look through some of your industry’s trade publications or view your literature and digital assets side by side with competitors and it quickly becomes apparent, a lot of B2B brands especially, all look and act the same.
Know you competition and also who is nipping at your heels. A simple SWOT analysis can help you identify where you have an opportunity to separate your brand and marketing from the herd and also, where you need to correct your strategy to compensate for weaknesses.
But above all – keep your strategy and thinking agile. Your brand and your marketing exists in a state of continuous flux and needs to be ready to take advantage of opportunities and respond to threats.
“Article adapted from 7 strategies for selling marketing to your CEO” on CMO.com.
Creating a new logo is not something you should decide to do lightly. It’s a massive undertaking that will impact your staff, stakeholders, customers and critics alike. We should know, The Mission Control has just helped roll out two global rebrands back-to-back across 50+ countries.
So before starting down the road of change, you really need to justify to yourself why you’re doing it. There are a lot of good reasons to do a rebrand, but don’t let boredom be one of them.
If you are set on rebranding, then there will be a very good reason behind your decision. The most likely reasons in our experience tend to be mergers, acquisitions, changing your core business model or entering new markets.
So where do you start?
Before reaching for the markers and sketchpad, it’s crucial that you get the structural framework in place. Be clear in your own mind what you are aiming to achieve through the rebrand. Preparing a brief will help you clarify these objectives and not just give the agency a launch pad.
We would also recommend conducting a brand audit before doing anything. This will give you an idea of just how many items within your company that will need to change and allow you to work out a schedule for change that is implementable and plan lead-times.
A brand audit is a great way of letting you see just how much branded content you actually have and it can often be the most unlikely of things that make the most use of it. We recently carried out a global rebrand and found that our client had more that 40,000 individual brand assets that would need changed. This included everything from business cards and stationery to forms, livery, uniforms, packaging, signage and exhibition stands. Then there are all of your digital assets, email signature plates, websites and social media platforms, templates and e-shots, not to mention audio-visual components including corporate videos and ads.
You very quickly come to realise the scale of a rebrand – not to mention the cost, as everything needs to be changed.
Naturally – if you’re just evolving your logo as opposed to radically redesigning it, you can for a time allow the old and new to co-exist.
When it comes to rebranding, don’t keep your staff in the dark. By engaging with them early, you control the flow of information and prevent misinformation from taking root.
Your staff will also be the people who are delivering on your brand promise, so involving them in the journey will educate them and give them a stake in the brand culture.
This is one of the most common mistakes companies make. They are so focussed on how customers will react to the new brand that they totally overlook the people who will be living it and delivering it on a daily basis.
Whilst it is important to involve your staff and focus groups can be a great source in intel, you really need to avoid entering into a process of design by committee. This process only ever results in a fundamentally flawed compromise that works for no-one.
In our experience, you need a very open and honest relationship between the strategy team, designers and the senior management. Yes you will have research to refer to, you will have viewpoints to consider, but eventually clear, hard decisions have to be made and that’s where you need to be brave.
I’ll be the first to admit, there are times when I can’t wait to post news about a new piece of business we’ve won or show-off a piece of work we’re particularly proud of. But as a rule, most of what we create is never seen or mentioned within our own brand promotions. We don’t even mention most of our clients in our client list.
It’s not that we’re not proud of the work or indeed the brands we work with, but when you get into serious B2B campaigns for brands that have turnovers in the hundreds of millions or even billions, then you really have to respect their confidentiality and consider the impact of your actions each time you name drop.
Think about it – what’s the easiest way to see what one of your clients’ competitors are up to? Answer – find out who their agency is and check out their site or social media pages and with a little digging and intelligence, from what is posted – you’ll be able to work out exactly what their strategy is for the coming months.
This leads me onto my next point. When you are posting work you have created for a brand, why are you doing it? Most likely it’s because you’re setting the scene to go after another piece of new business – in other words you’re showboating and stroking your own ego. And there in is the problem. You’ve taken your eye of the work you’re commissioned and getting paid to do and thinking about the next job or client. You’ve already relegated your client to second place and that’s just bloody bad service.
So – remember, it pays to keep your mouth shut and its much easier to lose an existing client than it is to win a new one. My advice – respect the clients you have and if you’re doing your job well, then new projects will come to you of their own accord.
If you don’t believe me – then just ask yourself, what would Chuck do?
Over the years we have worked with dozens of brands. Some have grown to become multi-billion-pound companies that trade the world over and employ thousands of people and set the standards other aspire to.
What defines these brands far and beyond their business acumen is a culture of bravery. They refuse to play it safe and follow the social norms. They choose to lead as opposed to follow.
But courage should not be mistaken for recklessness. Courage comes from knowing the consequences of your actions and strategically anticipating how you will respond to all possibilities.
When working with a brand that has courage, you get a sense of liberation and that translates through to the work you produce. You find yourself charting new territory and carefully planning the route ahead.
So whilst to your competitors it may look like you are being reckless – the truth of the matter is that you know where you’re going. You’ve scouted the road ahead and are clear on your destination.
Before they know it, your competitors are left staring at your taillights as you pull away and they are left in your dust.
Fear by contrast can and will cripple you. If your brand has a culture rooted in fear, customers, competitors and followers will see it and react accordingly. You will find yourself paralyzed with indecision and that makes you a vulnerable target.
So ask yourself, what sort of brand do you want to be?
Brookvent is a company best known for its intelligent product design, so when it came to selecting a brand partner to help create an integrated global marketing strategy, its marketing team wanted an intelligent forward thinking agency with an international perspective to join them.
Following a competitive brand review involving six agencies, The Mission was appointed to join Brookent in realigning the brand across a number of countries. The announcement was made on Easter Tuesday following a thorough review of all proposals put forward.
Speaking about the win, James Killoran said: ‘Brookvent is an amazing brand to be working with and we’re joining it at a pivotal point in its evolution. The company has a ‘creator culture’ that reflects our own so there is a very natural fit between both companies.’ Over the coming months, The Mission Control will be working with Brookvent to create a fully integrated marketing strategy that will be rolled out worldwide.
This month sees the second treatment in the new Equiniti-ICS PeopleAX integrated campaign strategy. In this treatment we explore some of the unique insights that the software offers to HR managers into staff behaviour and habits.
Continuing the theme of integrating infographics into real and relevant life and workplace scenarios, the campaign clearly demonstrates the scope of information that can be drawn from PeopleAX and the advantages it can offer HR departments.