This article first appeared in the Fall 2013 edition of Aquatalk. We thought it might be worth resurrecting.
Marketing is a lot like a first date: your ultimate goal is to attract. Think back to your first dates. You probably spent some time agonizing over your pants, switching shirts, studying yourself in the mirror. Basically, you put some effort into making yourself as attractive as humanly possible. Brands should also be twirled in front of a mirror. You need to spiffy them up if you want to woo consumers.
1. If your logo dates back to the era of high-waisted jeans, change it.
Logos are fashionable, which means they can go out of style. Trends in font styles and color palettes change over time. Sometimes logos hold up. Sometimes they don’t. It’s not all that different from pool design. You’re probably not building the same pool you created in 1989. Your logo should also evolve to complement what you build and sell as well as changing cultural biases. Note the subtle and not so subtle logo updates the world’s biggest brands have made over the years all in an effort to stay relevant and modern.
2. Consumers will judge you on how you look.
If your marketing materials were not designed by a good professional graphic designer, your brand probably needs a makeover. That’s because every detail of your marketing communications says something about your brand. The words you use, the website you design and the papers you print on all contribute to your brand identity. These items need to be as carefully thought out as the pools you build. You wouldn’t choose shoddy materials for a six-figure pool. So if you want to attract six-figure business, your marketing materials should sound, look and feel as equally luxurious. Likewise, if you build more economical family pools, you want communications that convey a sense of fun and value. Commercial builders need brands that imply trust and sophistication.
3. Choose substance over pick-up lines.
Your brand should stand for something. What your brand stands for is best summed up in a catchy and succinct tagline. Your tagline should convey a valuable and emotionally engaging proposition. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Get to the crux of what you offer and shout that to the world. Take these famous taglines:
Just do it.
Please don’t squeeze the Charmin.
Calgon, take me away.
We bring good things to life.
Notice how they are not as focused on describing the brand as they are on evoking a feeling and provoking action. You want your tagline to make people feel something good. Bad taglines are the marketing equivalent of cheesy pick-up lines.
4. Don’t wait three days to call.
Brand building requires frequent and consistent consumer touchpoints. The marketing rule of thumb is that you need to engage a consumer about seven times before they will really remember you. That means you want a website and a banner ad. Perhaps a direct mail piece or an eblast. You want to be on Facebook and Twitter. The idea is to be everywhere so your brand becomes familiar and stays top of mind. So make sure you follow-up every communication with more communication.
5. Seduce them with listening.
Consumers like brands that pay attention to their customers. Instead of using your marketing communications to always tell consumers about your products and services, invite people to interact with your brand. You can easily do this on Facebook and Twitter. The best kind of marketing is a two-way conversation between a company and its target audience. This offers two advantages: a. you get to learn more about your consumer and use that knowledge to better hone your communications and b. those consumers, in turn, feel special. Virgin America does a great job of making championing the consumer an integral part of its brand. If your brand encourages consumers to feel good about themselves, you’ll attract more of them.
In sum, your brand should be a living, breathing and changing thing. It should put its best foot forward, head out into the world and be unafraid to make the first move.