This week we welcome John White who writes for the blog, How to Hire a Marketing Writer. His post is a great reminder to all of us about why--and how--we need to brand consistently.
The good news is that the Web gives you dozens of B2B points of contact with prospects and customers. The bad news is that you need to synch and maintain all of these properties. It doesn’t take long for your brand to spring a leak.
“I’m putting together a newsletter,” I wrote to a dozen people whose opinion I value, “and before I launch it, I’d like your take on it.”
Have you ever sent a message like this? Were you prepared for what your customers, testers and influencers found? How much of their input did you incorporate?
Bob was VP of business development at a software company when he and I worked there in the 1990s. I showed him the newsletter. Right off the bat I knew I was in for it.
“I must say that I’m not a big fan of your graphic banner,” he wrote. “I’m not sure where to start, other than to say it falls way flat.”
Drat. I put a fair amount of work into that when I developed my Web site about 18 months ago, and I thought it had visual appeal. Oh, well, let’s see what he thinks of the rest of it.
A day later, he sent me a critical analysis for which I probably would have had to pay at least $1000.
Marketing Identity Crisis
“In short, I sense that you are suffering from a marketing identity crisis. If you want to align your writing with marketing in your prospect’s mind, your brand has to be cohesive. Your skills cover many bases, but it would make you look more effective if all of these fell under a consistent-looking brand.
“I think it’s vital to you – to anybody – to present yourself as a singular, cohesive brand (whether that’s venTAJA Marketing or johnwhitepaper is up to you to decide). Why isn’t your web presence under that single identity, with the brochure site, writing blog, Twitter profile and newsletter all under that single brand?”
Of course, he also sent me plenty of to-the-point feedback on the newsletter itself, both positive and negative. But it all added up to the same identity crisis.
Cover the Web, and Fast
Whether you’re a globe-straddling enterprise, a one-person show, or something in between, the opportunities for B2B Web presence and points of contact with your audiences crop up all the time because of how fast the Web moves:
- Web site
- LinkedIn profile (personal and company)
- Facebook (profile and page)
- Twitter profile
- YouTube channel
- [Other stuff that hasn’t been invented yet]
It’s hard enough to keep content fresh and looking up to date on just your Website, let alone propagate changes across all of these points of contact. The whole thing is supposed to run like a train, with your brand as the locomotive. But it often runs more like a herd of cats, as you try to cover the Web as quickly as possible and gain first-mover advantage on new portals and venues.
One of the cardinal sins of online marketing is spreading yourself too thin. Not only can you commit this sin by trying to post, comment and stay noticed in six different channels, but you can also inadvertently commit it by letting the Web pull you too far from where you started. The result is a leaky brand.
(And when I write “you,” I mean “all of us.”)
Plugging the Leaks in Your Brand
How do you fix this?
- Keep an eye on consistency in your look. Some properties like LinkedIn and blog templates don’t always make this easy, but it’s important for your brand to look the same everywhere, or for you to link to places that look the same everywhere. In particular, you need a main banner graphic that will follow you everywhere. Link to it over the Web so that you need change it in only one place, and the changes will propagate across your Web presence.
- Enlist outside reviewers. Get feedback from somebody who will tell you if the emperor is wearing no clothes. It’s not as much fun as being slapped on the e-back by people breathing the same exhaust as you, but it’s more productive.
- Do what they tell you. Or at least do some of what they tell you. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Or, if this is too much work, just ask your mom to review your newsletter. She thinks everything you do online is perfect.
About the author: John White is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. At How to Hire a Marketing Writer, he posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it