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So you’ve built a brand. Now what?

Building effective and valuable brands involves more than just creating a logo, business cards, and a web site or brochure. There is a common misconception that a well-designed logo, “new and improved” packaging, or a sleek new customer experience on the web will magically increase sales and there will be an immediate impact to the company’s bottom line. The truth of the matter is that while these elements will help a business reach their sales and revenue goals over time, strong brands must be continually promoted in order to stay relevant in the eyes of customers. To effectively leverage your brand, it is important to keep in mind the 4 M’s of brand promotion:Market, Message, Method, and Measurement.  

First, know your market.

Many companies struggle to define their target audience beyond typical demographics. Even worse, some think that everyone is within their target market (after all, who wouldn’t love their product or service?). Instead of a shotgun approach to promoting your brand, focus on your organization’s core competencies by determining what resonates with and excites the customer about the brand. Be sensitive to their needs, their desires and their buying behaviors.  

Second, make sure your message is relevant and consistent.

Once the target market has been identified, communicate a message that stays true to the brand’s promise and positioning. “Practicing what you preach” is an old adage that is very appropriate to brand promotion—nothing will make your product or service less authentic than saying one thing and doing another. As an organization grows and expands its promotional efforts across a variety of media and channels, this can become a challenge for even the savviest of marketers.  

Next, choose the appropriate method of promotion.

Many think that promoting a brand involves only advertising or marketing, or a combination of the two. In actuality, there are many, more effective ways to communicate messages to your audience--besides traditional media such as print, radio and television; Public Relations, Internet and Event marketing, as well as Social Media are some examples of cost-effective tactics for improving audience perception of an organization’s product or services. Carefully consider the customer’s psychographics and preferences for receiving information when selecting methods of promoting the brand—if they are younger and technophiles, an Internet campaign might be most appropriate. If they are older, more mature, then more traditional ad placement might work best. The important thing is to remember to stay on message and portray a positive image of the company’s products or services while overcoming any misconceptions that people might have of the brand.  

Finally, measure how you are promoting your brand’s image.

It is impossible to know if something is working without having some way of monitoring the outcome—and measuring the effectiveness of a promotional campaign does not have to be very elaborate or complicated. Simply having a “call to action” on a printed piece of collateral allows for track-ability, whether it is a phone number to call or a web site to visit. Creating a PURL (personalized web address) for recipients of a direct mail piece allows for unique visitors to that web page be tracked using Google® Analytics. And e-mail distribution programs such as MailerMailer, Exact Target or Constant Contact will automatically track the open and click-through rates of an email newsletter or campaign. Each of these unique methods are straightforward ways of measuring brand promotion, allowing companies to determine what message is resonating with the market, and to develop new ways to creating more highly targeted campaigns to the most profitable customers.   In closing, brands must continually be nurtured through promotional efforts in order to remain at the top of customers’ minds. By looking through the lenses of the target market, the messages that will be most relevant to them, the methods of delivery of that message, and the ability to measure its effectiveness, organizations will create truly valuable brands that will help them realize their sales and revenue goals.   —Ryan Hembree, principal/brand strategy