Brand Marketing Tips to Stand Above the Crowd
We won’t lie to you: the marketing ecosystem in nearly every industry is crowded – thousands of businesses are battling for the same eyeballs, clicks and customer dollars! While your business is unique, you have to prove to consumers with countless other options to choose from that you are the best choice. After 30 years in the education industry, we’re proud to be a well-known name among clients, prospects and competitors. But we didn’t get there overnight. Strategic planning and proper execution were keys to our success; to share that success with you, we have outlined our six core brand marketing steps we leveraged along the way to stay relevant, and on course.
1. Go Bold or Go Home
A quick challenge: think of the catchiest highway billboard you’ve ever. What made your eyes wander from the road and take in the promotion for a hot second? Now imagine that billboard is for your brand. On an advertisement-laden highway, you have to clearly differentiate your brand from competitors, but also deliver your point quickly or risk losing audience attention, which is getting shorter by the day.
On the internet, social media channels and their various newsfeeds have become the highway of digital life. Just as those highway billboards need to stand out, so do your social media ads. And similarly, brands can expect many customers to miss their ads, scrolling past on their way to consume content from friends and family. But like a catchy billboard, a good social media ad can generate the awareness needed for a lead to become a customer.
In the current media landscape, the best way to stand out is to stand up. Bold brands understand their company mission, messaging and stances to the point that they SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS. Whether you’re shouting in the outdoor advertising world or the digital one, let your company’s passions be a part of every business and brand marketing decision. You would be amazed by how many consumers appreciate unapologetic brands who know who they are and always stand true to their identity.
2. Lead with Your Purpose
Audiences usually discern what you do fairly easily, but what sets your brand apart is why you do it. At CB&A for example, we’re driven by a passion to increase awareness of education initiatives that deliver equitable learning opportunities for schools and students. This mission influences everything about our brand marketing philosophy. It keeps us motivated, but our mission also drives our engagement in the education community and attracts clients to us in the first place.
In a classic 2009 Ted Talk, best-selling author Simon Sinek explains that the ‘why’ of your company should be the core of everything you do; the starting point from which your ‘how’ and ‘what’ develop. If you don’t know your purpose, you’re not alone – take a breath! It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day shuffle and priorities from the top, so remember: your marketing efforts are enhanced when aligned with your mission.
For edtech marketing teams looking to make a change, consider taking actionable steps to understand why you want to accomplish your business goals, as opposed to simply describing the goals themselves. Your business mission sets you apart from your competition and embracing it is key to achieving sustained growth.
3. Keep Your Competitors Close
Every industry has its key players, so every little thing matters. Tracking similar and competing brands positions you to make proactive competitive changes. Keeping up-to-date on industry newsletters, scanning press releases for competing products and practicing social media listening can help a brand anticipate the various ‘threats’ from competitor activity.
Outside of your immediate competition, other edtech companies and marketing teams can signal new directions and spark ideas for your own brand marketing. After all, thought leaders are trendsetters for a reason. What can you glean from these innovators? With each new idea from a competing company, a learning moment arises. Drive your productivity and identify solutions to your brand challenges.
Meanwhile, competitors are watching you, and they are learning from your strides in a never-ending symbiotic relationship. For this reason, it’s even more important to be proactive and vigilant to keep your brand on the cutting edge.
4. Prepare, but practice agile marketing
The message Abe Lincoln was sharing in his above quote is simple: preparation goes a long way toward proper execution. As it is difficult to know when the next opportunity will arise, you need to make sure your portfolio is always fully charged for action. This requires forward thinking and a commitment to your plan when opportunity arises.
For example, during a successful client moment, if an administrator is featured praising your social emotional learning tool, your team needs to be ready to leverage the win. Publish a case study, deploy a social media campaign to promote the media placement, or send out an email blast to an expanded list via MCH or MDR. Don’t let the win slip away without maximizing it on every channel. Basically, when you secure a major media hit, ring all the alarm.
This goes for wins big and small. One of your team members passed a HubSpot certification? Put out a LinkedIn post to let clients and prospects know what your team is doing to better their brand experience. Little marketing moments spark action, so casting a wide net positions you to succeed, though it’s best not to stretch the effort too thin. Be prepared for the channels you are addressing rather than scrambling to fit the different pieces together on launch day.
5. Know Your Limits
While it can be exciting to pursue multiple business challenges, nobody can do it all. Knowing what your company doesn’t do well is just as important as embracing its strengths. Determine where your company excels and build on those areas of expertise. And if your internal team is lacking in skills, look out into the world for partners. In the education industry, big players like Linda Winter and Kevin Custer are open to collaboration – especially when you meet up at an edtech conference. Similarly, freelance writers, graphic designers and digital marketers can augment your team during big events.
Ponder this question: how can your business be more innovative, knowledgeable or effective for customers? And can you execute the tasks required to achieve that goal?
By reinforcing the strongest elements of your business, and supplementing weaknesses with partnerships, freelancers or perhaps a leading education marketing agency, you attract prospects who trust your services, and you establish yourself as an industry expert. Long-term, providing quality over quantity strengthens a brand’s reputation within the education industry.
6. Get Social (It’s where the people live)
If there’s one place you can reach a good segment of your target audience, it’s social media. Every year, millions of new users create accounts with the intention of following people and companies who represent their interests. Be sure you’re ready to welcome these newcomers by maintaining a consistent stream of unique and timely content that proves your profile is worth following. Don’t be afraid to put out a humble brag piece about what you know well! That said, focus on quality – nothing turns a customer off faster than poorly thought out marketing.
To keep current followers interested, continue to produce quality content that anticipates customer wants and needs, serves as a helpful resource for their queries and engages them in new ideas. If you know your target audience well, you know what they hop online to find. Get ahead of their questions by creating a blog roll or live video series with tips, tricks and actionable strategies. Inspire your followers by introducing them to new topics or pointing out best practices.
That’s the CB&A Brand Marketing Guide, go forth and use it!
CB&A knows how to stay fresh through quality, detailed brand marketing, from ideation to execution. And like our friends Kevin and Linda, we, too, love to collaborate with edtech brands.
During this conference season, we’ll be at many of the big ones, with SIIA and ISTE next up on the docket, and we’d love to connect with you there. And for those not in the conference world, we can go old-school, and set up a phone call! (No pun intended for you education folks, 😉).
Whatever your preference, simply drop us a line to pump up your brand marketing efforts.
If you enjoyed this CB&A education marketing trends feature, check out these companion articles:
- The 2019 Marketing Planning Series: Website Tools and Trends
- The 2019 Marketing Planning Series: Social Media Tools and Trends