I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. Usually my resolutions usually end up as just more fuel for guilt. So this year, I thought I’d spread the guilt by setting some resolutions I think all brand builders would do well to follow. Yes, even me. ESPECIALLY me. Heck, if we keep half of them, we’ll still be better off. Even if we keep one of them, we’ll be better off. And most are pretty easy. So here goes:
- Stop complaining about “the economy.” It is what it is. Deal with it.
- Listen to at least 20 customers or clients. Notice I didn’t say “talk” to them. Nor did I say “do research.” I didn’t even say “pay attention to your Facebook wall,” though those are all good things. We all get shut up in our offices and it’s easy to hide behind our laptops and smart phones, assuming we’re getting the full picture. We’re not. Hard to believe that anything can be more important than digital communication, I know, but sometimes face-to-face — or even phone-to-phone — communication can be quite refreshing. Try it. Ask a few customers what they think about your company or product; what they expect; whether you fulfill their expectations; then shut up and listen. Couldn’t hurt, right? Well, maybe it could. But not as much as not listening.
- Look at your marketing communications and delete all BS. Get rid of all the gobbledygook — please! Your customers and clients will thank you (see Resolution nos. 1, 5 and 6). If you’re not sure what’s gobbledygook and what’s not, download David Meerman Scott’s wonderful little eBook, The Gobbledygook Manifesto. Then, after you’ve cleansed your communications of gobbledygook, get rid of all the stuff that you’ve been saying all these years but that just plain isn’t true. Go ahead, be honest. Are you really “cutting edge” or “best of breed”? REALLY? Note: If after deleting the gobbledygook and untruths there’s nothing left to say about your brand, you need more than a few resolutions. Shameless plug: If that’s the case, you’re welcome to give The Fiddler Group a holler.
- If you can’t delete the BS, turn it into truth. See resolution #3. You know all that stuff that just isn’t entirely true? Maybe your brand would be better off if it WERE be true. This is your year to make it so.
- Question your brand delivery daily. When you wake up (or — if you need to shower and have a cup of coffee first — you can leave it for first thing in the office) do two things. First, recite your brand promise with conviction (“We WILL give every customer the best burger s/he’s ever eaten.”). Then ask, “How can I make that more true today than yesterday?” You have the rest of the day to make it happen.
- Answer your questions daily. Some time before the night-night hour, answer these questions 1) “Did I keep our brand’s promises today?” and 2) “Did we make more customers happy?” Imagine how deeply you will sleep if the answers are “yes.”
- Let your brand breathe a little. It’s not bad to be a little bit of a control freak when it comes to your brand. But even brands have to have a little fun sometimes. Dabble with marketing to a different customer. Have an online birthday party for your brand. Do a video that makes fun of your brand. Lighten up a little. What’s the worst that could happen? Not much. The best? A lot.
- Stop talking about social media as if it were on a different planet than everything else. OK, this may be a hard one, what with all the “gurus” and “evangelists” running around loose in the Twitto-blogo-Facebooko-sphere. But seriously, it’s all connected in your customers’ heads: traditional media, digital media, the stuff they hear in the supermarket, writing on the bathroom wall. This year, instead of focusing on your social media strategy, focus on a customer strategy. Better yet, go back to the principles of Integrated Marketing Communications and fold in a little push and a little pull, inbound and outbound. Talk with your customers; but don’t be afraid to talk TO them, either. They don’t ALWAYS want a dialogue.
- Clean up your office and clear off your desktop. If it’s anything like mine, it’s a damn mess.
There, that’s nine. I’m certain I’ll think of more as soon as I publish. But this is a start. You have others? It would be great to hear about them.