Every business needs to excel at certain fundamentals to succeed. They must have a cohesive vision and effective internal communication. They must build, sell, and support a great product or service. They must communicate a message and unique selling proposition to their potential customers. An argument can easily be made for any of these being the most important of the three, but we’re going to focus on opportunities that many companies fail to take advantage of in the third. If you can improve your messaging through better marketing and branding, you may be shocked at the impressive results you achieve.

Start with Data

Whether you’re an international conglomerate with an established brand and airtight sales strategies, or a scrappy startup trying to build a brand and make a name for yourself, your approach must be supported by data. Don’t rely on your instinct, or what worked in your industry 20 years ago. Perform a thorough market analysis and evaluate your competitions’ brands and strategies. This may sound rudimentary, but a shocking number of companies build their whole marketing plan around “the CEO likes this,” or “we’ve been doing it this way for 50 years.

Understand Your Customer

The next step is also overlooked often. Spend some time really discussing and considering who your current core customers are. Do they line up with your desired target audience? If not, how can you expand without upsetting your base? If so, how can you grow your market share? Create brand personae and go beyond who your customer is. Have lively debates with key decision makers about their relationship with your product. Why do they buy it? What attitude do they have towards it? What problem does it solve, or what desire does it fulfill? Answering these key questions will start to lead you to a powerful branding plan that focuses on the customer.

Embrace Digital…

Of course, the digital marketing landscape has recreated our relationship with branding, but even a few years before the rise of social media and SEO advertising, a constant barrage of messaging had become ubiquitous. (Think of the signs in Times Square.) Digital has focused the channels for brands to deploy their campaigns by firmly establishing what (and who) they deliver. If you're a restaurant who wants to increase lunch traffic, SEO may be a great buy for you. If you market high end office projects to professionals, you may buy LinkedIn. If you need 20-somethings to buy your spiked energy drink, consider Snapchat and Instagram.

…But Don’t Abandon Traditional Media

While there are some industries that are exceptions, it’s a fair general rule to not put all your eggs in any advertising basket. Digital is great and highly-targetable, but if you’re not able to spend a daily budget, it may not break through. If you think about digital as part of your media mix and use it as a frequency play, however, you may deliver by hitting people multiple times a day, through radio, broadcast, or print.

Create Useful, Memorable Content

It’s a poorly kept secret in the marketing world that consumers hate advertising. It’s understandable; to market effectively, people must be reduced and thought of as statistics or demos. That’s why great brands have embraced content marketing. Earlier, we talked about how your product makes people feel. Content marketing focuses more on that than on blatant calls to action. It’s an emotional play, and in and of itself, it may feel manipulative. They key to getting around that is to tap into emotion and supplement it with useful information.

Here’s an example. If you sell any home renovation product, consider a 60 to 90 digital video all about a couple moving into their first home together. Tips on solving common DIY problems in this context is the best of both worlds. You can feature your products, and you can end with a call to action. The important thing is to make this piece more about them than you.

Great branding creates market leaders. Focus on strengthening your branding, and much of the rest will fall in line.
Better Branding