28 Jul 2021

What does your brand say about you?

Mike Rigby, CEO of MRA Marketing asks: Is your marketing pulling it’s weight, and is it making a difference?

Most of us can easily name the brands behind straplines such as ‘Every little helps’; ‘Never knowingly undersold’; ‘Fit the Best’ and ‘Just do it’ because they’ve been drummed into us by constant marketing.

How many industry brand straplines can you think of? As a brand missionary, I set myself the challenge. I listed: ‘Let’s colour’; ‘Proper Builders Merchants’; ‘Built on relationships’; ‘Building digital right’; ‘Showering spaces’; ‘Does exactly what it says on the tin’ and ‘The Plumbers’ Merchant’. But it was a bigger challenge than expected. Many brands weren’t saying anything. Even big brands I was sure would have straplines didn’t have one.

At its simplest, your brand is what you want people to say about you when you’re not there.

Construction has been slower than other industries to adopt the marketing perspective. But your brand is your reputation, the sum of who you are, what you do, and your relationships. It’s the trust you’ve built up in the market. It’s why people buy from you, not someone else. And marketing is what builds your brand.

Marketing is not tools and techniques like advertising, it’s a set of ideas and a way of looking at your business, your customers, and prospects. Done right, it’s the strategy behind your sales forecasts, and how you identify and grasp the opportunities for profitable growth.

Every business needs to ask: are we in the right place, heading in the right direction and doing the right things? Are we saying the right things, in the right way, to the right people?

Three key marketing questions:

Who? Who do you sell to, who do you want to sell more to? National Housebuilders? Housing Associations? White Van man? Mrs Brown? How old are your customers – mostly young, or middle aged and soon to retire? Are you selling to the customers you want? Are you selling what they want?

Why? This is your difference and relative advantage, or USP. Why do customers buy from you, not your rivals? Where do your prospects buy now, and how do they buy – including online! Why would they switch? As we learned for ourselves while shopping online during Covid, price matters, but most people switch and keep coming back for convenience, great service, and the ‘come-back-again-and-again’ customer experience, rather than for price.

Where? Concentrate and position your strengths against important gaps and your rivals’ weaknesses.

David or a Goliath?

Research says challenger brands need to be 3.5 times as effective as leader’s marketing to level the playing field. For every £1 Coca Cola spends it gets £1.30p back. For every £1 Pepsi spends it gets £0.30 back. If you’re not No.1 you need to do more and shout louder because leaders have ‘defender’s advantage’. And you need to keep shouting so your target market notices and remembers you. Repetition builds your brand.

Marketers often get bored with their messages long before their audience notices, so a lot of marketing is wasted. Creativity matters but it’s more about saying the same thing in a fresh way than finding a new message. We only know BMW is ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ because it has been saying that since 1975!

If you’d like help with building your brand, email mike@mra-marketing.com.

This article was first published in the Builders Merchants’ News May 2021 edition.