Four ways to shoot your brand in the foot (and how to recover)

Four ways to shoot your brand in the foot (and how to recover)

Slack and Company | May 17, 2018

When something goes wrong, and all eyes are on you to make things right, there is no statement in the English language more infuriating than this:

“I don’t know.”

And that goes double for marketers. Because when your refreshed brand fails to resonate or your new corporate website falls from the first page of search results to the second or third, “I don’t know” can turn a normal day at the office into a three-alarm fire.

And that’s putting it mildly.

The thing that makes this so terrifying is not knowing where to start. We’ve found that over 30 years of helping B2B marketers solve some tricky situations, more often than not, one of these four things might be the source of your marketing woes.

1. You forgot who you're talking to

One common disconnect we often see starts right at the top with your organization's website. Here’s an example: B2B websites are often organized by vertical focus or by product offering. This organization method may make logical sense to you because that's how your company is structured. But if that’s not how your audience naturally searches for content, this strategy can actually make it more difficult for visitors to find the content they’re seeking from your site. We like to call this “talking about yourself in your own language.”

Websites should ultimately be organized according to how your audience prefers to educate themselves. This differs from industry to industry and even by how you do business; the audience for an accounting firm will not seek out the same information in the same way as the audience for an industrial manufacturing supplier built on an e-commerce selling platform.

The solution

This comes down to your knowledge of three things: your audience, their buyer journeys, and how your website, content, online ads, etc. fit into that journey. While solid UX design can help, it’s not the only thing you should be thinking about.

The goal is to design for the entire buyer journey and how the end user experiences your brand at each part of their journey. Which means you’ll need a good understanding of how that journey works if you want to influence people at the right time in the right way.

2. You forgot something small, but crucial

Here’s a story we’ve heard too many times.

A company undergoes a complete brand refresh: new name, logo, look/feel and messaging. And naturally, they change their site’s URL to match their new name.

And in a few short weeks, your company's website has fallen completely off the face of the internet and stopped showing up in searches.

What happened?

The solution

Before you embark on an epic crusade to overhaul your digital marketing strategy, make sure you rule out the possibility that you didn’t just miss something small that broke everything.

Digital transitions of any kind require that you know exactly how your new direction will apply to everything it could impact, whether you’re moving to a new site or replacing old content with something new. Did you…

… create a plan to help your audience transition to your new platform?

… employ 301 redirects to help Google and other search engines scan your site and process your web presence?

… make a plan to make sure your existing AdWords setup will be able to stomach the new change?

… keep tabs on your social properties by deleting or editing old posts that refer to non-existent things?

If it’s something small that’s getting in the way, then fixing it is usually a simple matter. But in our experience, the most grief tends to come because…

3. You forgot to integrate your new tool with the tools you already have

Building on the theme from the previous section, your measurement and analytics tools are critically important to your organization and represent enormous investments in time and resources. They are also very, very fragile. Whether you’re bringing a new website online or you’re adding new content to your CMS, not having a plan to bring your organization’s existing platforms into the loop and can cause enormous headaches—especially if they’re jostled too much or too quickly.

The solution

Change can be necessary and painful. But no matter how difficult it can be to do something new, it’ll get worse if you can’t show that it’s working. Your sales management tools, your demand generation and marketing automation platforms and your analytics suites are critical to proving marketing attribution, which is why your transition plan needs to make room for making sure they’re brought in without a hitch.

4. You forgot to tell anyone else

If you’ve made sure to address the three problems above and are still experiencing drop-offs in engagement, your problems might just boil down to a disconnect between your right hand and your left.

A great way to completely throw off a prospect’s momentum is to give them relevant, timely content via your site or an email campaign that motivates them to the point of contacting sales, only for sales to be completely unaware of whatever they’re talking about.

This is an easy step to miss. But it’s a crucial step that you can’t afford to miss. Marketo found that keeping sales and marketing aligned can help marketing generate 209% more revenue than if the two departments operated completely separately.

The solution

Keep all new and in-development content and updates on a master timeline. Delegate to your marketing teams the responsibility of informing the appropriate sales teams of marketing campaigns that might affect them. And avoid the urge to point fingers. Falling down matters less than how you recover.

Whether you forgot something small or there’s something bigger at play, there’s always time to take a step back. Just remember: a second opinion is never far away.

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