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Building brand in difficult times

Building brand in difficult times

By Leor Franks, CEO, Aronite, 

Take clients on the favourability journey with your firm

Business leaders are typically aware of the importance of alignment between the four elements of marketing planning: Goals, Strategies, Objectives, Tactics. Without this, it is difficult to task marketing, communications, or business development staff with delivering programs that add value to your brand and your business. This is particularly true today, with instability in the markets caused by the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Client favourability journey

The ‘Favourability Journey’ tool can help. This assists marcoms in gaining input on current business goals, selecting suitable marketing strategies and producing plans for tactics that add value in these difficult times. This approach has four stages, each are strategies which may be required: Recognition, Reputation, Relationships and Revenue. To bring this to life, imagine the following pre-lockdown scenario:

Recognition. You are abroad in an unfamiliar country. You walk into the deserted hotel bar for a drink. You look at the bottles on the shelf. There are 40 to choose from, none are familiar. How can you select without recognition of the brands? You look closely and see ten are from a region you have heard of – you are now at the first step of the Favourability Journey: recognition. But without further information, ten is still too many to pick from.

Reputation. With no bartender in sight, you wander behind the bar and take a closer look at the familiar ten. Without data on the quality of these, how do you choose? On the label of some you notice an award logo, this gives you comfort that five of the bottles are good quality. You are now at the second step of the Favourability Journey: reputation. But five is still too many to choose from.

Relationships. The bartender arrives. He/she comes over and you talk about what you like to drink. The bartender understands your preferences and offers advice – a choice of two of the five bottles you were looking at. You are now at the third step of the Favourability Journey: relationships. Two is a reasonable range to pick from, but what about price?

Revenue. You ask the bartender and he/she tells you one bottle is $100 and the other $20. You pause to reflect on which will go down best with your client – something reassuringly expensive but possibly ostentatious, or something cheap but potentially embarrassingly so. You are at the final step of the Favourability Journey: revenue. Thinking of your expenses policy, you go for the latter!

In a matter of minutes, you have travelled on a journey from uninformed and uncomfortable, lacking recognition of the brands, to a point where with information about the reputation of the options, and advice based on a relationship, you can make an informed purchasing decision, to give one brand revenue. This Favourability Journey is likely familiar for personal buying decisions, it also hopefully resonates as the journey clients go on with financial, business and professional services.

Brand & marketing audit

Leor Franks

Leor Franks

So how to implement the Favourability Journey? The starting point is clarity on business goals. Whether codified or not, you should detail these with an audit around each of the steps of the Favourability Journey to identify which strategies are required and later to help guide the objectives and tactics needed. Before this audit, it is essential to define the target market i.e. both current and potential clients, at the most granular level possible. Below are some of the options for the audit, choices depend on time, budget, resources and complexity of business:

Recognition. The first question to ask is ‘how well is our brand known by our defined target market’? If time and budget allow, a client survey, ideally conducted on an unprompted and unattributed basis by a third party is an effective tool. Niche publishers and branding consultants are often a speedy option. A digital audit around search engine terms and adverts can supplement this. There are many other options including client service assessments, but for purity, stick to unprompted sources.

Reputation. The second question to ask is ‘what does our target market think of us’? Similar tools to the recognition audit can be used. It is often helpful to add in third party sources e.g. directory rankings or award providers. It may also be possible to conduct a media sentiment analysis, whether using technology or a communications adviser. Such data is often criticised as incomplete but is undoubtedly valid as an input to a marketing led audit.

Relationships. The third question to ask is ‘what do our existing clients and warm targets think of us’? Input from the above can be utilised but additional sources are beneficial, starting with CRM data. Should market share or client service assessment data be on hand, this can be added. Another important source is input from your colleagues. It is helpful to assess breadth and depth of their relationships. This is an in-depth assessment which I won’t cover here due to space constraints.

Revenue. The fourth and final question to ask is ‘how do we perform on tangible opportunities’? Again, client service assessment data can be useful. Many companies will also have processes around the review of pitch outcomes e.g. win/loss analysis, where possible with input from the clients themselves. Internal pricing analysis is also often helpful and external consultants can be employed to provide useful context on market benchmarks.

What next?

Following this audit, data should now be available on the defined market – both current clients and potential targets. The aim is to consolidate this into a map. You should plot clients on the Favourability Journey to identify where they are currently in their association with the company, to identify marketing objectives which will later inform the planning of tactics. The success of this approach relies on the selection of markets and the availability of data.

The Favourability Journey is from experience simple to communicate to stakeholders. The benefit of moving clients along a journey of favourability towards the company should make sense to all. This can be used for planning – looking at each of Recognition, Reputation, Relationships and Revenue as strategies. It can then be used to identify objectives, the areas where clients need to be moved along the journey, and the tactics required to deliver on this. Today, in uncertain times, understanding where your clients are on their Favourability Journey with your brand is the path to success.

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