It’s a sad but true story. Clients who have signed up for branding consultancy keep commenting that their sales remained the same as before they engaged the branding consultant. The unasked question remains the same, “Why should I keep you?”…
“Why Hasn’t My Sales Gone Up?…”
It’s a very sad story indeed, but one that happens all too often. And the main culprit is the lack of understanding between what they really need, and what they think they need. That’s right, clients sometimes don’t really know what they want. They may use very specific buzzwords, like “branding”, “social media marketing”, “blast into the market”, “create a need”, “advertise in Facebook”, or similar sounding terms. But at the end of the day, they still don’t know how to maintain market relevance nor brand exposure.
And the answer to the question above?… Well, it all starts with the thought that if they “invest” money into a branding exercise, it’ll release a genie. And the genie will in turn, magically pull up the sales graph… No, it doesn’t happen that way.
But before we shoot them down for thinking so childishly, perhaps we should try to understand how that train of thought actually came about?… You see, the norm of yesteryears was to engage in advertising agencies to raise the awareness of their brand. It’s not a cheap endeavour by any means, but it does show some results, albeit only for a limited amount of time. You see, advertising is more of a highly specialised executable job. It does boost your exposure, and it’ll definitely show results. But without the proper strategy and planning, all the rush will fizzle out before you even know what happened.
So to keep the sales high, they need to keep on advertising… a very expensive prospect indeed… One that definitely doesn’t justify the amount of money already sunk into the advertising production and media buying expenses.
So What Do Clients Really Want?
Regardless how you look at it, all businesses have one, and only one objective. And that objective is to earn a healthy profit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a high-volume-low-profit model, selling fast moving consumer goods, like peanut butter, or a low-volume-high-profit model, selling luxury yachts. At the end of the day, they all seek to sell enough of their products to earn that healthy profit. And the key word here is sell. So it’s not unexpected that sales is always the top priority of business owners.
But achieving (more importantly maintaining) good sales transaction is no easy task. The fact is that if nobody knows that you exist, or that they have no need for your product, then nobody will want to buy from you. So getting yourself (and your product) known in the market is the first order of the day. The second order?… Well, if your customer has a need that you can fulfil, then sell them that. And if they don’t have a need need that you can fulfil, then create that need in them. Either way, make them want to buy what you’re selling.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what sales is all about…
If Sales Is So Important, Then What Is Marketing?
If a sales manager is like a platoon leader, leading his men to do direct battle with the enemy forces, then a marketing manager is the battalion commander. And he directs his platoons like playing chess pieces on a real battlefield chessboard.
The objectives for the platoon leader is pretty straightforward, to go where his platoon sent. And then win whatever battles he fights there. But moving up the command chain, the battalion commander has more tasks on his plate. He needs to know how and where to send his platoons to. He needs to know which platoon to advance, and which platoons to support them. More importantly, he also needs to juggle all his assets to keep them all sharp and effective. In short, he needs to see a bigger picture of the whole battlefield in order to manage his battles.
Likewise, a sales manager’s job is to go where his sales team is sent to, and close as many sales as possible at that specific location. Moving up the corporate ladder, the marketing manager needs to know where the needs of his products are, and where to send his sales teams to fulfil that need. And if such a need doesn’t exist yet, he has to find a way to create that need, like knowing when and where to advertise and promote specific products.
The sales manager has to trust his marketing manager to know what he’s doing. He needs to know that his sales team is sent to where they can close the most sale.
My Name Is Brand… General Brand…
If the sales is the platoon leader, and the marketing is battalion commander, then where does brand come in?… Well, the guy in charge of branding is the general of the whole army. While this guy is even further removed from the risks of death and injury, he’s not any less committed to winning the war. This guy isn’t moving platoons like chess pieces on the battlefield chess board. Instead, he’s deciding which chess boards to play, and which ones to ignore. His objective is to ensure that all the players play their game in such a way that they all end up exactly where and when he wants them to be. His ultimate objective? Well, it’s to tie up the whole war in a neat little package, complete with a pretty little bow on the top of the box.
As you move up the corporate ladder, the actual “work” is lesser, but the responsibility is greater. The guy on the top cannot make things work without the support of the workers to do his bidding. Likewise, without the decision of the people from the top, telling them where to go, the frontline staff will be running around like headless chickens. They may look like they’re doing a lot of work. But the actual effective work that bring results will be scarce, or even non-existent…
Branding In One Word – Communications
There is no doubt, the sales force of a company is the frontline of the whole operations. And in theory, they can operate and succeed in their own little ecosystem. But if you want to make them more effective, they’ll have to rely on the support of a marketing team. Marketing will guide and feed them with useful information on where to best push their sales activities. As you can see, the flow of information flow downwards from marketing to sales.
Most companies will stop here, as adding more job functions mean incurring more expenses. But that will only serve to limit you to only succeeding in your little piece of battlefield/chessboard.
But would you want to expand the reach of your business, and potentially drive your bottomline even higher? If so, then branding is the way to go. However, do recognise that branding is far removed from the daily toil of your sales team. They’ll literary have no direct contact with each other. Recognise that branding doesn’t directly increase your bottomline. It’ll take months, even years, to build up your brand identity and credibility to a level where it will influence your bottomline.
Will My Business Really Benefit From Branding?
Although the concept of branding has been around for centuries, it wasn’t until the dawn of the 21st century that the hype really took off. And this jump was due to the accessibility to the world wide web. In today’s branding world, most of the branding activities takes place in cyberspace. And that enables the direct accessibilities to the individual businesses.
In short, if you still haven’t gotten involved in the whole branding game, it’s about time that you do. Because if you don’t, well, you’ll be in the dust from all of your competitors who have already started the race…