There is an interesting discussion developing on a few listservs of which I am a member about guerilla marketing tactics, specifically the T-Mobile tactic which has now gone viral,
It got me thinking about ways for you to communicate the brand of your firms so I thought I would share it with you here as well. These are important times for us to keep these discussions front and center as much as possible. After you read my thoughts, please add your own in the comments section.
When you think about what “the brand” of your firm is, or of a particular industry or practice group, or any product or service within your firm for that matter, then you can begin to imagine ways these [Guerilla] marketing tactics could be effective. Even if the discussion is allowed to get a little “out there” in order to unlock the brains of those who are having these discussions in your firms, then so be it.
Show this T-Mobile video to them…let them know it’s a bit extreme for your purposes (even if you don’t think so) so you don’t scare them away before your discussion even begins, then hold a brainstorming discussion about what T-Mobile’s brand must be based on what they just watched. Ask them what T-Mobile was trying to communicate by doing what they did. Let the discussion go for a while so the members of the group begin to feel comfortable talking about what brand really means.
Talk about whether they think this was an effective way to communicate that brand. If there are some who think it was an ineffective way to communicate T-Mobile’s brand, then have them brainstorm ways their message could have been communicated more effectively.
I would then suggest letting this discussion evolve in to what your group’s brand is…what your personality is, what your clients and potential clients will think, feel and experience every time they do business with you. Allow that discussion to flow freely, writing down all the thoughts and ideas everyone in the group has, telling them there are no bad or wrong ideas as this is their interpretation of what your brand is at that moment in time. Ask everyone to encourage everyone with every idea that comes up.
Then discuss the most common themes that came up during that discussion, and attempt to come to some type of agreement about those common themes that make up your brand. Pick the top 5 or 10 and turn them in to a definition of what your brand is. Don’t throw away the concepts that didn’t make it. Discuss whether there are any of them that the group TRULY wishes were a part of your brand, and deal with those concepts, deciding whether they are important enough to make changes in order for them to become a true part of your brand. Incorporate them if feelings are strong enough to do something about incorporating them in to your brand, but get commitment that your firm will make the investment necessary to truly institutionalize them, or leave them out. If you aren’t going to work on incorporating them soon, then you will just confuse your potential/clients as they won’t see the parts of your brand you attempt to communicate.
When you get to the point where you have agreement on the definition of what your brand is, then you can begin to build a marketing plan around that brand. You have allowed all group members to buy in to your brand fundamentals because of the discussion you just led, which is critical. No marketing person, whether internal or external, can go away and create your brand on their own without input and buy-in.
Then go through the progression of marketing plan components in order to build a thoughtful, strategic marketing plan that takes in to account the targets, the messages, the goals and the methods to be used to communicate that brand to the right people with whom you want to do business.
Show the T-Mobile video again, then encourage your group members to think in those terms to develop more subtle (maybe!) marketing tactics to communicate what you’ve developed in the plan discussed in the preceding paragraphs. Encourage them to dare to be different.
I’ve communicated a process to you that sounds very simple in this brief post, but I know it will take some time, and I know it will take more steps than I have outlined here, and might even take a facilitator who can help the group step in and out of its comfort zone at the appropriate time, but my point is the same.
Step out this year! If you don’t, your competitors just might! Even if they don’t, what will you have accomplished at the end of 2009 without having spent the time to discuss, plan and implement that which will help your potential/clients understand what you have to offer that is different than others, or that the others haven’t taken time to discuss and communicate?
These tactics might seem outlandish for some firms because of their conservative nature, but they are not to be ignored. There are versions of every marketing tactic that can be modified to accomplish the growth, retention and communication goals of your firm.
It’s 2009. Do you know where your BRAND is?!
Good luck, enjoy the process, and let me know if you need help walking through this important process.