Know your audience. It's the first rule in good communications. It's also incredibly important as part of a good business growth strategy.
Audience segmentation — separating your target audiences into discrete categories based on specific attributes — is not just an interesting marketing exercise. Done well it can help you drive significant results.
Back in the early 2000's I was working for a very large public software company. Just prior to me getting there, the company went from just over $1B in revenue to about $800M. Not a good trend. We put a process in place that we called "Revenue Delivery". The model was built on answering this simple question: "If we were going to be a $1B+ company, where was that revenue going to come from?" What products to what buyers in what industries in what geographies?
To get to that answer, we had to build a sophisticated segmentation strategy - not just knowing where we had sold solutions, but where did we want to sell them based on the highest probability of winning. Based on understanding the buyer, what motivated them, what didn't motivate them, where they lived, and what their specific business problem was that we could solve.
Once we had the audience, product, industry and geography segmentation, we got very targeted — in terms of products we built, industries we sold into, and who sold into those industries. We got very targeted in messaging, sales enablement and demand generation. The result? We increased revenues about $400M in 2 years.
It sounds simple, but so few organizations actually do it. This model is not just appropriate for large public companies. The principle (and a similar but simpler approach) can and should be applied within smaller organizations, startups and non-profits.
And, maybe most important — we had fun doing it! Going up is definitely more enjoyable than going down.
Just when you though you'd seen it all. I was watching a golf tournament (I know, I know) and saw an ad for Konica Minolta. Their new tag line (and I promise I'm not making this up) is "Nobody Cares What We Do". (If you want to see the commercial, you can find it here: Konica Minolta Campaign) . Right. Customers don't care what you do. That's a strategy.
I'm sure the advertising geniuses in the crowd will say that it works because it's "catchy", that it "gets your attention" — that "you must have liked it because you're blogging about it!". Sorry to disappoint you, but even with the parenthesis (because we do it right), the ad (and message) is bad. Horrible. Desperate. Ignoring the fact that the creative execution is beyond cheesy, and that a brand known for selling printing and copying machines is now offering "cloud solutions" (no jumping on the band wagon here), the desire to "get attention" backfires.
Messaging matters. Foundational to good messaging is knowing who you are, who your target audiences are, and why what you do matters to them. It's never OK to say to a customer "you don't care what I do, as long as I do it well". Repeat after me. It's never OK.
Don't get caught up in the hype of adverting dreamers who believe that it doesn't matter what you say, as long as people pay attention. That may work for a very short period of time. But, great companies, great brands, that stand the test of time focus on crisp, clear, value driven messaging. Messaging that tells a story and compels people to engage with your brand. Because your brand matters.
In the words of my father, "if I had a nickel for every time someone said this, I'd have retired a long time ago." He doesn't say that anymore since he's long since retired, but as it relates to the title of this blog post, its so true. Ok, maybe a quarter given today's prices.
When I was CEO of Signal.csk, a strategic brand and marketing firm, we spent countless hours training our clients on this reality. Re-branding does not equal a logo change. Brand is much, much bigger. Brand is a strategic asset that needs to be developed, nurtured and proactively managed. Brand is as much or more about behavior than it is a logo. Or an advertising campaign. People believe in your brand because they experience it. Not because of your logo, or what you say about yourself through marketing.
I was compelled to remember this principle when I read a recent article on Uber's new branding. The article in Wired showcased branding gone bad. When the CEO runs the project, picks the colors, and does everything short of building the logo in PowerPoint, bad things happen. Some things are best left up to the professionals.
To begin with, the premise that changing the logo changes the brand is patently false. Brands are fundamentally about managing perceptions and are built and grown over time based on a company's ability to understand the perceptions they want to own, and consistently delivering on those perceptions. Yes, ultimately you need a logo, and that logo should reflect the perceptions of the brand.
But lets not kid ourselves. Half the people will like and half the people will dislike the logo anyway. You can't build a brand based on "like and don't like". It has to built on a foundation of what is true to you, what is meaningful to your target audiences and what is distinctive in the marketplace. Find the intersection of those things, and understand the perceptions you want to own, and you'll have a good foundation to building a powerful brand.
Steve is a husband, father, and business exec. He loves anything outdoors, anything that is a hard challenge, and enjoys working with anyone who wants to continually improve. And golf. He loves golf. Steve is the founder and CEO of Executive Advisory Partners.