3 Reasons Why Clients Lose Money on Brand Strategy (#3 Most Never Consider)
The only thing worse than losing money on an investment is not knowing why you lost it in the first place. This is the same pain that our clients can feel when they invest in a brand strategy only to see it fail to generate the intended ROI.
After working with dozens of companies and brands that have experienced this issue, we wanted to provide three factors that prevent ROI when it comes to a brand strategy--both online and off. (We actually now ask all our clients to read this upfront before working with us for these very reasons.)
Reason #1: Not Starting with ROI in the First Place
A brand strategy, by virtue, is really nothing more than a set of recommendations and prescribed tactics that align into a cohesive approach. But just like any investment strategy, there needs to be a way to measure its success in hard numbers. There have to be tangible and verifiable results. But with a financial strategy, measuring is easy. Your balance either increases or doesn't. With a brand strategy, your marketing department isn't the only factor that hits the bottom line.
This is why we always start all strategies by establishing a black and white results scoreboard. What metrics are we going to measure that determine whether, in clear black and white terms, the strategy is a success or not? These cannot be "vanity metrics," which are metrics that make everybody feel good and important, such as total traffic, but do not actually lead to results. For example, it doesn't matter if millions of people come to your site if nobody ever clicks the "buy now" button.
Once the right metrics are chosen for our black and white scoreboard, it is important never to use it as a scapegoat if other factors in a company cannot translate the score into revenue. For example, your website may be converting visitors into leads, but if the sales team does not follow up to close the sale, than the issue is not the brand strategy. More on this in a moment.
Reason #2: Lack of Execution
You can have the best strategy ever, but if there is no execution, ROI is impossible. Execution is not a problem limited to only sales and marketing. This issue is only amplified when wanting to make the necessary changes that are required for a successful brand strategy.
We understand that it can be hard to turn the company ship when there are a million things to do and worry about every day. But if you didn't need to change, and everything was on course, then why do you need a brand strategy? And it's really not change that is the issue. It is the "pain" associated with change. It can be painful to break the status-quo and develop new systems and routines.
For example, if your B2B company is going to commit to a content marketing strategy, you must first seriously consider the resources required for consistent execution. You can't bite off more than you can chew. The stats are clear on this. According to the 6th edition of the B2B Content Marketing – 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America, the top four challenges of B2B marketers are:
- 60% Producing Engaging Content
- 57% Measuring Content Effectiveness
- 57% Producing Content Consistently
- 52% Measuring the ROI of Content Marketing Programs
The report also clearly states that:
B2B marketers who are goals focused, strategic in planning and action are more effective.
Reason #3: Brand Culture
We define culture as:
The collective expression of what all stakeholders of an organization trust and believe.
Basically, in the context of brand strategy, if your employees trust and believe in the strategy, they will execute. If not, you have bigger issues. (This takes us back to the example of a sales team not following up on online leads.) In other words, when there is collective trust and belief, the right culture, then your brand strategy, with the right training, can go on autopilot.
Execution becomes automatic. (How nice would that be? It is possible with culture!)
We have seen far too many organizations invest in a strategy (not just for branding but every area of business) and have it sabotaged from within. "Sabotage" might be a strong word, but it is in reality what happens whether employees are doing it consciously or not. The strategy is doomed to fail right from the start. All it takes is one disengaged or toxic stakeholder, especially in management.
There are many reasons why employees don't trust and believe in a brand strategy. Typically this is a result of negative experiences that start right with the leadership, both within formal and informal structures. It is important to take a hard look at whether or not your culture has the capacity to really embrace the brand strategy, align with it and fully live it.
This is why at Envision, we provide what we call "brand culture coaching." This is our way of providing the best resources to ensure ROI is possible (we actually have an entire division called Envision Brand Culture). For us, ROI stands for return on investment and inspiration. Your culture can be the inspiration that leads to all other forms of ROI.
Let us know if you have any questions on this. We believe no dollar should be wasted when it comes to investing into a brand strategy. We are happy to respond to any comments.