One of the fun things about planning for a new year of growth is coming up with creative marketing ideas that will help you get and keep your most profitable customers. But implementing all these great ideas can get expensive and you might often find yourself skimping on your plan to save money. But you won’t have to skimp if you know my secret to powerful brand building on a budget; use a theme to drive your marketing program.
How to Use a Marketing Theme as a Low-Cost, High Impact Brand Builder
If you’ve ever considered purchasing ads in papers, radio or television, then you already know that the only way that these are going to give you any benefit at all is if they are as long as you can afford and run as frequently as you can afford over a long period of time. There is only one major problem with that – most of us can’t afford either the length or the frequency that will build our brand, drive customers to our store or site and get them to buy. This is where setting a marketing theme will really come in handy as a part of your marketing strategy. Setting a theme for the year that simply and quickly states a benefit you offer or want to be known for – will focus your marketing and keep your whole organization “on-point” with the sales and marketing message that will set you apart from the competition.
Another way to look at this is to think of your marketing program as if it were actually a magazine about your product or service. Notice that magazines often have themes for each issue and then all the articles subtly support different aspects of that theme.
- Make your theme specific and flexible. It might seem that these are mutually exclusive principles, so I’m going to give you some examples of themes that fit this criteria. “Easy to Choose. Easy to Use.” This is a terrific theme to use because it gives you the opportunity to create educational content and direct marketing pieces as part of an overall program that teaches your customers why they should choose you and the benefits they will get from using your products. Another wonderful byproduct of using a theme as part of your web site, blog, direct marketing and sales presentations is that customers will literally remember the lines “Easy to choose. Easy to Use” and tie that directly in with your company. The result in the customers’ minds will be “ABC Company = Easy to Choose and Easy to Use” and they will choose you.
- Build Your Messages. Now that you have your theme, you can build a core set of messages around that theme. Say your theme was “Lean and Mean,” make a list of all the different ways your offer is “lean and mean” then make a list of all the ways that your offer helps your customers run “lean and mean.” You can look at all aspects of your operation from customer service to production and point out all the different ways that “lean and mean” is expressed in your company.
- Use multiple channels to deliver your message. This is really where the power of a theme pays for itself. Use the content ideas that you’ve developed on your web site, write blog articles, send direct marketing materials, create videos, structure your trade show exhibits and pre-show promotions around them and use them in your sales presentations so that your prospects and customers get that big powerful benefit message in a variety of channels, messages and flavors.
Using a single benefit-based theme in your marketing for 2010 will not only give your customers thousands of reasons to choose you, they will save you money, be fun to create and get your whole organization on the same marketing message.
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About the Author: Ivana Taylor is CEO of Third Force, a strategic firm that helps small businesses get and keep their ideal customer. She’s the co-author of the book “Excel for Marketing Managers” and proprietor of DIYMarketers, a site for in-house marketers. Her blog is Strategy Stew.