Are Your Spending Too Much Time on Marketing?

May 21, 2019 | Brand Differentiation

Have you ever paused to wonder, are we marketing our brand too much? Can that even be possible?

It is and it does happen. Companies can get so obsessed with publicity, promotion, and advertising that they lose sight of what is really important: the service.

In an interview with the comedian Steve Martin, Charlie Rose asked, “How do you be successful?” Martin replied, “Nobody ever takes note of it, because it’s not the answer they wanted to hear… but I always say, ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’”

“Be so good they can’t ignore you” may be the best marketing advice ever shared.

In Sticky Branding (the book) I wrote, “Customers don’t beat a path to the company’s door because of its marketing. Marketing hype scratches off quickly. Customers seek out Sticky Brands — and come back again and again — because those companies offer a compelling service and a memorable experience.”

It’s the substance and the quality of a company’s products and services that make a brand. All marketing should be doing is amplifying what makes your brand remarkable.

Doug Levy, co-author of Can’t Buy Me Likes explains, “[Panera Bread] renamed its marketing department an amplification department, putting its focus on supporting its fans and spreading the word. This focus on trust and relationships led to great financial results. [Panera Bread] spends 1 percent of sales on advertising compared to the 5 percent of sales spent by others in their category.”

Focusing on the core — what you actually deliver to your customers — will do more for your brand than marketing. Customers come back because of the products you sell.

Like so many other aspects of life, “being so good they can’t ignore you” is easier said than done. It comes down to mastering a set of business processes that are theoretically uncomplicated, but are also difficult to put into practice consistently:

  • Creating great products and services
  • Delivering them brilliantly
  • Building lasting customer relationships
  • Pricing and positioning your products properly
  • Delivering exceptional customer service and customer experiences

On their own, each one of these processes isn’t complicated, but doing each one brilliantly and at the same time is complicated. There are no silver bullets or simple paths, because the brand building process is multifactorial.

That’s why Steve Martin’s advice is so frustrating. You have to work really hard, really consistently, and for a really long time to create a truly remarkable brand. Marketing tactics are the easy part. Delivering the right product for the right people at the right time is the truly important work that will separate your brand from the herd.

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Jeremy Miller

Top 30 Brand Guru

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