Tag Archives: rebrand

THE REAL CAUSES OF NON-RESULTS

“We’ve been through two marketing companies now with no results. What are we doing wrong?”

This question in a recent post in an online networking community caught my eye. An established consulting business was expressing their frustration with the non-results they were getting from the marketing professionals they hired.

helloFUTURE LLC, according to their online profile, “helps you create innovative new products, services, and patents via our foresight, innovation and patent development programs, supported by solid technology and project management.” That’s a mouthful. Per their new website, their business would appear to be entirely workshop-based. It’s what they say they do anyway. Some very large clients are on their roster, but based on these, it’s not at all immediately clear what they do.
Based on a comment from the author, it would also seem that he’s not that clear about his brand either. As he says, “ There are others in our space, I can’t understand why we’re getting so little traction in our business. We are a unique product in a unique space.” That’s confusing. Is it a product or a service? Is it a unique product in a unique space, or not?

The company tried two completely different approaches:
first, a firm that “supposedly” used AI to create lists of people interested in buying their service offering. It “campaigned over 12,000 people” (whatever that means), and achieved only 20 calls and no business. They then hired a “full service” marketing company that “redid” their communication tools – ads, website and created content marketing. It achieved three leads and no results.

I have to say that, sadly, I’ve heard this story (or something like it) many times over the years we’ve been in business. It speaks both to poor understanding and poor advice. First, a client that has a limited understanding of their brand, its audience and its place in the market, and who is happy to throw the baby out with the bathwater because their stab in the dark didn’t give them the results they hoped for, when they should have been getting down to basics. And secondly, casting a net and hiring consulting firms that promise big, charge big, and pitch their approaches as the answers to all the client’s problems – be it the latest trend or “full service”. Neither would seem to have done the research to fully grasp the associated brand issues, or educated the client before overhauling websites, or developing new campaigns, creative and content. Simply covering all media does not constitute full service in my mind. And I think it would be a safe bet to suggest that they never delivered a brand analysis and strategy.
This company’s problems could have resulted from any number or combination of factors Content, tone, messaging, visuals, PR, media placement and timing, SEO, reputation, markets, influencers, targeting, approach, competition and corporate culture are just a few of the things that could have contributed to non-results. And there was obviously a disconnect when it came to expectations and deliverables – communication breakdown on both sides. The reality is, most all of it would come back to rethinking the brand and the business, and then developing clear, sustainable, brand-driven communication tools.

What does that mean? Well to start with, a full review and analysis of his business, category and competitors. It needs to determine whether they are truly differentiating from competitors and where the gaps/opportunities are in the market – a swot analysis. A deep dive into what they and competitors are doing and saying, and whether those are the same thing at all in the minds of your audiences.

It means an inside look and training as well – the way he and his team talk about and sell the product/service. Interviews with staff and key stakeholders to elicit key insights. And, on brand clarity, training for buy-in and consistency.
Businesses need a solid brand that makes sense and is sustainable, strategies for implementation, and the right tools for the job, used properly at the right time, in the right places. It’s rarely a smart idea to ‘start over’ completely with an established company. If a rebrand or refresh is required, it needs to be carefully developed and managed, and key messages developed to support the brand – before ever venturing into new communication tools.

With new clients, we often see so much time and money wasted in the ‘throw it all away and start over’ approach. Or conversely, the band-aid approach. Mostly, in our experience, non-results are the result of starting in the wrong place to begin with.

Small is the New Big

smallisgood
There was a time when giant advertising agencies, marketing and design firms roamed the earth consuming everything in their path. Pumping out campaign after campaign, turning unknown brands into household words, providing extra income to actors and athletes whom they chose as spokespersons, spending millions on commercials and ads and millions more on media to plaster their clients’ messages everywhere.

It was a time of plenty, with big budgets, consumers and clients who spent lavishly and agency personnel who were breaking new ground every day. Those were the days indeed, when a big part of a client’s status was measured by the size of firm they could afford to give their business to.

But alas, all good things must come to an end. And while a few big companies still feel the need of big agency status, and can actually pay enough to get senior talent on their accounts, those agencies are going out kicking and screaming–the age of the behemoth ad agency/studio/marketing firm is slowly showing signs of shrinkage.

Self-Inflicted Wounds

Back in the late 1980s and early 90s, big changes took place in the big agency world. Many people who had made these companies rich and famous were being jettisoned for younger, less costly staff. The jettisoned creative people didn’t really mind because their training didn’t just equip them for independence, it also gave them the confidence that they could pull it off.

But the one mistake that many of them vowed never to repeat was that of growing so large they lost the ability to be hands-on on their clients’ businesses. Or the ability to cut through the bureaucracy and really make a difference. Because the clients themselves were changing too–becoming more entrepreneurial and bottom line conscious and appreciative of the ability to get bigger results from a smaller firm for less money.

At our small firm, we all started in the independent sector on our own terms and this is very much the environment in which we were formed. I suppose you could call us a boutique strategic design and communications firm, but we are decidedly much more than that. The combination of strategic, creative and production skills that each of our principals possesses means that we can offer anything those big firms can–but in a smaller, more efficient, more experienced and most importantly, more value-added, results-oriented package.

Our other advantages are that we’ve been around for 29 years and we’re all under one roof. That’s a plus because in this economy, many firms are justifiably skeptical of individuals or loose groups–a direction many of those jettisoned creative and marketing types have taken. Clients never know if the team players will be around for the whole campaign, or the next one. These days, stability and continuity are as important as talent and experience.

Small Can Be a Big Advantage

Regardless of what service industry you’re in, big firms will always have their place. However most businesses today, particularly SMEs, are better served by an agile firm who can and do:
a) Develop smart strategies and put their plans into action;
b) Provide sound, senior-only advice and real conversations without being constantly on the clock;
c) Deliver powerful ideas and world class execution;
d) Recognize that relationships matter.

Ink Tank clients tend to think a lot like us. The could be small startup businesses, or bigger businesses wishing to rebrand themselves or get a new initiative off the ground without mortgaging their future to do so. Or they could be big companies who need well thought out strategies and outstanding execution of their initiatives and communication tools at greater speeds and more cost effectively than bigger firms can deliver. And maybe with just a little more creativity.

Our client base includes many start up, big and really big firms like these, as well as business and management consultants who trust us to build on and faithfully execute the plans they have devised for their clients.

Regardless of how big your firm is, getting to know a small firm like ours could end up being the key to people getting to know you and your clients.

*********************

Ink Tank® is a ‘boutique’ design and communications firm without extravagance, politics or ego, but there is nothing ‘small’ about our talent levels, discipline and experience. We offer senior- level only participation, deep experience and proven successes across an extremely wide range of b2b, b2c, government and not-for-profit categories. Ink Tank is the ideal partner to launch a new product or service, brand or re-focus an existing brand, or get communications tools, advertising, packaging, promotions, displays and other marketing efforts working the way they should.