Marketing in four steps

I was reading Seth’s Blog recently and came across this little gem of a post from a few years back – it really gets to the heart of how to be successful in marketing, so give it a read – and the great news is, it’s not very long!

OK so the original blog is here if you want to see it up close and in its original form… but if you can’t be bothered to click through, here it is reproduced:

Marketing in four steps

The first step is to invent a thing worth making, a story worth telling, a contribution worth talking about.

The second step is to design and build it in a way that people will actually benefit from and care about.

The third one is the one everyone gets all excited about. This is the step where you tell the story to the right people in the right way.

The last step is so often overlooked: The part where you show up, regularly, consistently and generously, for years and years, to organize and lead and build confidence in the change you seek to make.

Wise words

I love Seth Godin, it’s definitely worth subscribing to his blog – always insightful, to the point and thought-provoking too. And here was another piece that got me thinking, not least because it’s bang on the money.

The first two steps are clearly important – create and build something that people care about and want. It seems obvious of course, but if you do that bit well, it makes step three so much easier. That’s the bit I love – positioning the brand, developing the narrative, creating ideas that sell.

He’s right – we do get excited about that bit. Because it’s fun.

And he’s right about the last bit too – step four.

Consistency is everything.

There’s a reason why brands have guidelines. They’re there to help the brand to ‘show up consistently’. Consistency breeds familiarity, which in turn builds confidence and trust. Confidence and trust lead to more sales.

But the thing about consistency is that by definition, it’s the quality of achieving a level of performance that hardly varies over time.

Over. Time.

In my experience there are way too many businesses that invest in their brand (which, in itself is commendable), but then expect it to deliver an upturn in sales performance almost immediately.

Yep, sure, there are plenty of benefits that come from a rebrand or brand refresh or whatever you want to call it, and plenty of reasons for doing it:

  1. Markets evolve, so do customers. A brand refresh can help companies stay relevant;
  2. Companies evolve too, so the brand should evolve to mirror the company’s current position and vision;
  3. Markets become crowded and undifferentiated. Sometimes the brand needs to be revisited to help achieve stand out;
  4. If a brand has suffered reputational damage, rebranding can signal a fresh start, helping to regain trust;
  5. Often brands can become muddled and unclear over time – rebranding offers an opportunity to reset and deliver consistency;
  6. A rebrand can open doors to new markets or demographics, positioning the company for expansion and growth;
  7. A more dynamic and forward-looking brand can make the business appear more appealing to potential employees;
  8. Internally, a rebrand can reinvigorate the team, giving them a clear vision to rally behind;
  9. Maybe the brand needs to adapt for new media – a refresh can help;
  10. And a successful rebrand can boost brand equity, making the company more attractive to investors.

But a rebrand (in isolation) is unlikely to make a massive difference to sales in the short term. The brand has to show up regularly, consistently – and in ways that connect with potential customers, year after year.

It’s about building familiarity, confidence and trust

When we’re talking about consistency, we’re not simply talking about mindless repetition of the brand logo. Or about ensuring the brand identity is adhered to.

It’s about upholding standards, delivering predictability of service and ensuring actions match words.

In marketing, consistency translates to an unchanging underlying brand message. It’s what helps customers recognise, remember and resonate with a brand. Your brand needs to become a reliable friend, who customers believe in and trust will be there for them, for years to come – loyal and constant.

By all means, ensure your brand is fit for purpose; it’s the foundation on which your marketing is built.

But don’t expect a rebrand to deliver more sales overnight.

The rebrand is only step three.

The additional sales come from step four.

Step four is where you put the hard yards in, day in, day out. Showing up reliably and consistently, until you’re trusted.