Our top 4 learnings from 2015

Wednesday, 09 December 2015 14:10

And so we find ourselves at the end of another year, asking ourselves where on earth those twelve months went.

For those of us at BrandMatters it’s been a big year of change. We have welcomed new team members, worked with new clients and celebrated the launch of our new website. Like many of our clients, as we move into the next year, we’ve taken the opportunity to reflect on some of the trends we have seen this year and the lessons we can draw from our experiences, in the hope that these will result in an even more successful 2016.

1. The importance of a collaborative approach

The key to bringing a brand to life is ensuring that your internal teams are on board and living and breathing your band and values with each other and your customers, and this process starts well before the official launch of your brand.

Ensuring that your team feels listened to and involved the whole way through the rebrand, from the positioning piece through to logo design, can really ensure that this change is embraced from the inside out.

The tension comes with striking a balance between consulting with your key stakeholders and listening to feedback, whilst also holding firm on the brand expertise you and your agency bring.

This year we have seen a real increase in the number of clients embracing a more internally collaborative approach, whilst also understanding the need for a strong internal project champion. Empowering a project leader to make final critical decisions ensures that your team feel consulted, but also allows your project to move forward whilst retaining support from the people who will ultimately bring it to life.

2. Sales no longer belongs exclusively to the sales team

With the increasing prominence of LinkedIn, as well as more up and coming platforms such as Google+, most employees have an active professional social media network.

In an era where content is king, and building up your organisation to be recognised as a subject matter expert is critical, every employee has the opportunity to participate – through sharing and interacting with your business’s social posts, as well as taking the initiative to post themselves.

Whilst we would all love our employees to be fully engaged with social selling, a big part of driving this level of participation is in making them understand that social selling is a win-win.

The biggest social selling learning we have seen this year is that it’s down to the business to help employees understand what’s in it for them.

If an employee is using professional social platforms to share company information, then they are building your company’s brand – both in awareness terms and perception terms. They are also demonstrating that they are an engaged, proactive and interested employee, as well as growing their own professional network – and that can only be a good thing for their current employer and future prospective employers as they move up the corporate ladder.

That level of involvement, and the subsequent reach it creates for your business, is the difference between a token social media page and one that has the power to boost your bottom line.

Read more about creating a strategic marketing plan by downloading our marketing plan template.

3. Brand positioning can be delivered on the run

It’s not news to anyone that we all find ourselves in a world with ever decreasing attention spans and the requirement to balance competing priorities and do more with less. A consequence of this is that an exhaustive evaluation of your brand’s positioning is a luxury few can actually afford. As a result of this we’ve had a few clients this year say, “Is there a quick and intuitive way to assess how our brand is positioned relative to our competition?”.

Our solution is the development of a simple threshold / valued / distinctive attributes matrix - all you need is a whiteboard and a marker. Start by defining the threshold characteristics or attributes you need to operate in your market and list these at the bottom of the board. These are the simplest and most rudimentary and are commonplace or shared by many of your competitors. Above these, list the attributes or characteristics that are truly valued by your target audience and that set you apart from some of your competition. Then list the most distinctive, desired or singular attributes (try to limit to three) that truly set you apart and have you stand out within your competitive context.

Then overlay this in the context of whether you are behind, equal or ahead of your primary competition (define no more than three competitors). When completed, this matrix will deliver you a concise and insightful summary of possible positioning territories for your brand and the size of your positioning task. If you’d like assistance with this exercise, contact us to discuss a meeting or workshop. We’ve this technique to good effect in 2015 for clients looking to rapidly make sense of what’s important and how they’re performing relative to their competition.

This could be a very simple and useful exercise as part of your initial 2016 planning. And if you’re not sure what attributes are owned by you or your competition consider a simple market research survey. This need not be expensive – see our blog, or contact us to discuss a cost-effective solution.

4. The little things add up

This may be the most important lesson of all this year, and it’s one that we have learnt alongside our clients. Everyone overestimates what they can do in a day, but underestimates what they can do in a year.

When taking on a project as multi-layered as a complete rebrand it’s easy to get frustrated by the delays that happen on a day to day basis – leadership’s priorities shift, timelines get pushed out and it feels like the project isn’t moving.

But look back at what you have managed to accomplish over a year; perhaps a stronger group marketing strategy, or maybe you’ve identified and subsequently mended holes in your lead nurturing process or you might have managed to launch a new website – making all the road bumps along the way seem so worthwhile.

And on that note of celebration, we want to wish you a relaxing and rejuvenating holiday break. We hope that you celebrate the progress you’ve made and the many things you’ve achieved this year. We know that 2015 has been as transformative for you as it has been for us and we look forward to working with you in the New Year and putting some of the lessons learnt this year into practice.