Guest post by Katie Leeman of Leeman Commmunications Collaborative 

Marketing efforts move quickly. Companies seemingly push out new content on Twitter 24 hours a day. An ad campaign that doesn’t hit the targeted consumer right gets rolled back and revised within hours. Completely revising your website several times per year is commonplace, and often necessary. And the opportunity for consumers to give you feedback in real time has changed the face of how, where and when we market.

Your brandWhen communication is this rapid, it’s tempting to just jump in and start marketing. It certainly seems like everyone else is, right? But if you don’t have a strategy and are just throwing money at the latest and greatest methods, you’re not doing yourself any favors. How do you know you’re communicating in the right ways, to the right people, at the right time?

It starts with understanding your customers. Sure, you might think you do, but have you actually asked them what they think of your products, your services? How they talk about you to others (or not)? How they like to interact with you?

Thoughtfully and thoroughly interviewing a subsection of your customer segments, while surveying the broad base of customers is the way you’re going to find out exactly what your customers think. That, along with a thorough competitive analysis, will give you a very clear idea of the kinds of relationships your customers have with you, what they want from you, where you fit in competitively, and whether or not you are truly resonating with the people you care about most.

It also allows you to develop clear and differentiated language that clarifies who you are—including (but not limited to) a brand promise and a positioning statement—and that can be used consistently throughout the organization.

Additionally, customer research gives you a roadmap for your marketing strategy. If your findings point to the fact that a very low percentage of your customers use Facebook, why would you waste money developing a channel that isn’t going to gain you lookalike customers? With a limited budget (and whose marketing budget isn’t “limited?”), you’re better off honing in on a few channels where you can really talk and connect with your customers—and find new ones—rather than spreading that money out over many channels…and never really reaching anyone.

And most importantly, brand research allows you to embrace who you are and how you’re different—and better—than your competition. It’s not uncommon for organizations without a strong marketing strategy tied to their business strategy to scramble around, trying anything and everything that seems like it will work. That’s not a strategy—that’s running scared, trying to stay relevant, and constantly being terrified that your competition is going to outpace you. In reality, you might not be talking to anyone who needs, wants, or believes in what you do.

What will increase your revenue through marketing is a solid understanding of your customers, brand language that positions you accurately, and a smart channel strategy that allows you to connect with the buyers with whom you can grow relationships with over the long term. Want to discover how your brand speaks to your customers? Contact us today, we’re here to help.

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Alison has more than fifteen years of professional services marketing and business development experience. She is a Boston College Double Eagle, holding both a BS in Management with concentrations in Marketing & Information Systems, and an MBA. Alison is a member of the 2009 Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 class of honorees.

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