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To start by focusing on something other than the foundations is like playing Jenga with your brand. It will all come down, it’s just a matter of when.

Basic Is Anything But Boring

May 1, 2024
Strategy means deciding if the short term is your focus or the long term is your goal. A strong foundation will set you up for long-term success.

Most industrial marketers do not have the privilege of creating a brand from scratch. We join a business in progress, whether the current task is to guard a heritage brand, kick off a rebrand, or simply bring the brand focus into alignment with a new leadership direction.  Which means that once we arrive at our company, as professional marketers we have a choice to make: will we continue things as they are, or will we do something new? What will the new look like?  Will we build on the basics or push forward to meet current demands with new materials?

These are not trivial considerations. The challenge with reacting to current demands is that it can become difficult to stay ahead of those demands and align them to a larger strategy – especially if there are budget constraints. Current demands might be the CEO’s request for a video, even though the YouTube channel is not built out, or building a new tradeshow set for an upcoming industry event, even though the branding hasn’t been finalized across other customer touchpoints like the website and brochures. The marketing effort spent on those demands is time – and budget – not spent on getting the brand foundations set.

Let’s be honest. Short-term targets can be shiny objects. That new trade show booth looks good – but you have to hope that the type of customer you want will be attending the show, walk down your aisle, and need your product/service. A complete website overhaul will take longer, but it would be more enduring than a few days at an event and it would have a wider reach. It’s fun to show a new video to management and get the team excited, but without a place to host the video that gets traffic – the audience range is stifled. Strategy means deciding if the short term is your focus or the long term is your goal.

Setting down your basic objectives may not be sexy but you cannot build higher if you don’t have a strong foundation. To start by focusing on something other than the foundations is like playing Jenga with your brand. It will all come down, it’s just a matter of when.

Doing foundational work means digging deep into the problem your product or service solves. It’s not about where you place the data sheets versus the images on a webpage – it’s about having a webpage that answers questions for someone who would want to purchase that product or service, and why your offering is the best option. Foundational work means knowing the type of person (purchasing, engineering, etc.) who is looking for your solution as well as knowing the industry. It’s about understanding their pain points. It’s about understanding the competitive landscape of other solutions and options. You have to align that foundational work with your strategic goals, whether that’s a rebrand, or new leadership direction, or continuing the momentum of the heritage brand.

Foundational work translates into changed language on the website, because Google search engine optimization algorithms are language-based in order to offer the best answer to users’ questions. Foundational work means the new video has a story focus on your differentiating points – whether structural to the product or in the treatment of customers. Foundational work means your tagline resonates with your industry and your ads target both the correct placement and sentiment to reach your audience. Foundational work means your trade show booth isn’t just pretty, but also meaningfully expresses who your company is and what you offer.

After the foundational work, I always suggest the next focus is on the basics of your digital house: technical set up of the digital landscape and your marketing tools. When you send something to a printer, make sure the margins are correct for the print size you have selected – you wouldn’t want an 8.5x11 brochure where the printed area was only 6x9! Setting up your digital basics is really like ensuring that your digital marketing house is right-sized to your needs.

This means setting up and having access to Google Analytics 4, Google Search Console, and a tool (I like MOZ) to monitor keywords and campaigns for your websites as well as social listening (I like Talkwalker.) It includes reviewing your website to ensure there is appropriate metadata as well as headers and keywords built into the site. This means optimizing your YouTube channel as well as your video titles and using the built-in analytics to find gaps in your offerings. Someone on the marketing team needs to be reviewing the digital details at least once a month to check in on progress and how the results align with strategy, or if adjustments are needed.

Adjustments will need to be made. Whether you are rolling out a rebrand, shoring up leadership alignment or maintaining a heritage brand, the truth is nothing stays the same. Google will have new algorithms, new social media channels will emerge, new competitors will start up; innovation will happen and markets will change. A strong marketing foundation is worth the investment of your time and budget for exactly those reasons. It is always easier to weather the storms of change with a strong foundation. 

Alexandria Trusov is the Global Marketing Director at Alpha Resources and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact her at [email protected] or visit www.truinsightsconsulting.com.