Recently, I had the opportunity to discuss branding and sales with a few business owners at a networking meeting. The consensus among the irregular regulars, a few of whom own businesses, was that during a tough economy it made more sense to forego soft marketing efforts including branding, in favor of hard and direct efforts to beef up sales.
I found this thinking as difficult to swallow as an entire hardboiled egg. I believe that emphasizing sales versus branding is not a savvy and sustainable marketing strategy and could adversely affect growth. What about the daily dose of fiber that a complete marketing effort offers? What about the sustenance of branding as part of a nutritious, well-balanced marketing plan?
Well, let’s analyze the situation. The kind of branding I’m talking about extends to social media marketing where you’re really not trying to sell anything except your brand image. This includes posts on Facebook and LinkedIn, Instagram and particularly blogs. Blogs, especially in the time of COVID, are supposed to be helpful and not self-serving. We’re looking at “noble” blogs with titles like, 6 ways the pandemic saved my marriage and Why we give all our earnings to the sustainable tuna foundation.
Brand image marketing creates loyalty, differentiation, credibility and the incentive to buy. It fills two of the criteria in the magical triad of the sales process: making your brand known and likeable. Companies are ultimately responsible for earning trust. Hard selling generates sales and purchases too, which is hardly news to business owners or salespeople. Front line sales folks are out there every day, following leads, making calls, Zooming away.
The distinction between these two parts of your marketing mix is that branding, whether online or delivered by other communication vehicles, is a longer-term process that takes a while to make its sale. Using social mediums like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram can be quick, integrated, and easy but takes longer to see results.
Direct, hardcore selling, on the other hand, has much more of an immediate impact and can generate instant results. This is in part because salespeople can sit down face-to-face (or mask to mask) with clients and not only sell the big brand picture, but use on the spot, hot tricks of the trade, like price reductions, perks for buying today, creating a sense of urgency, and whatever else closing tasks.
What we need to do is recognize the distinct differences of these marketing tools, in terms of timing, mindset and creative approach, to name a few. But we also have to recognize and applaud their commonalities. Ultimately, branding and sales have the same goals: raising the bottom line and increasing profits and growth. They’re simply on different parts of the marketing menu, that’s all.
The truth is we need sales and branding to work together hand-in-hand to reach our target markets and organization’s objectives. When we decide to focus on one and ignore the other it’s like peanut butter and jelly. You can eat them separately and they’re good, but they’re so much better together as a layered, tiered, and luscious sandwich.
Shouldn’t we consider these elements as equally important? Shouldn’t we be thinking both short and long-term?
Small businesses can’t afford to favor immediate savings at the expense of brand image and brand building. It may look good on the books at the moment, but this kind of marketing approach can be unappetizing and costly over time.
Luckily, you can have both without “Miner” difficulty because Chrissy and her intrepid Miner Agency team can do brand imaging, marketing, and public relations at the same time, kind of like walking while eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Here’s something else that social media/branding campaigns offer: using mediums like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram can be quick, integrated and easy. Best of all, you can sustain your branding efforts for peanuts while sales sail on. Everyone’s happy and everything’s in harmony. Just like a good, old PB&J.