Here are three reasons it pays to have a brand strategy when you don’t need it.
You are growing without even trying. Word about your business is spreading. You are running at a breakneck pace just to keep up with the growing demand. Obviously, when time and cash are consumed to support this growth, it seems like a no brainer to let brand strategy and marketing fall down the priority list.
But eventually your organic growth will slow. Whether it feels like that or not now, it’s true. It’s just the nature of any product life cycle. Branding and positioning are long-term investments, so now is the perfect time to make some small moves that will pay off big time when the market matures and competition moves in.
Here are a few of the excuses you have not to make this investment now… and how I would respond.
#1: Our brand is obviously fine the way it is. Why else would people buy from us?
Early in the product life cycle, if you are bringing a truly innovative product or service to a market that is meeting a need, you are going to see early adopters. Early adopters will buy even when things are a little buggy, or the brand isn’t known. They will buy despite the uncertainty and take a chance on you. As soon as you have 15% of the market, the game will change. You will need to target the “majority” – not the early adopters. Competition will come in; these customers will have more choice. The balance of power will shift.
Capitalize on this moment in time. Use your early adopters to identify your most compelling value proposition, refine your brand, and invest in customer experience to turn the early adopters into brand advocates and brand loyalists. This will build barriers of entry for competition, which will allow you to sustain your growth longer.
#2: The idea of doing something that might speed this up seems scary. We can’t possibly handle any more growth!
This is about laying the groundwork for the future, particularly future profitability, not revenue growth. Because we all know that “revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is king.” (Right?)
The strategy at this stage is NOT to run additional lead generation marketing. You don’t need more leads. You should be focusing on building brand awareness, especially brand consistency and clarity in communication to your target audience to start building equity in your brand. This is more about infrastructure building than it is outbound advertising… in the same way that you are investing in your operational infrastructure, you want to be investing in your brand infrastructure.
The good news is that a relatively small investment will pay dividends down the road. Companies with strong brands are able to keep their prices higher and fend off competition more effectively. So when you get out of launch mode and start competing in a mature market, your brand will protect you from having to lower prices to be competitive. In fact, a strong branding campaign has been shown to cause an 11X decrease in customer price sensitivity and a 2X increase in profitability.
Building brand equity early also allows you to delay the inevitable decline through brand extensions. If your brand is valuable to your core customers, you can offer them new versions of the same product or related products and services with minimal additional investment.
#3: I get the importance, but our team just doesn’t have the time to pay attention to this right now.
Just like every business, your team is probably experiencing the effect of the 80/20 principle, also known as Pareto’s Law: 80% (or more) of your desired outcomes are the result of 20% (or less) of your activities. So what are you spending time on that isn’t contributing to your desired outcomes? Would reallocation of a 12-16 hours for input to a brand strategist be too much to allocate to an activity that can generate such strong long-term return on investment?
Believe me, you are not alone in feeling strapped for time and capacity. Every second-stage growth company is feeling that same pain. This is why I have a job, and is why Six-Point decided to create programs specialized for second-stage companies. We know we need to minimize your input and maximize your output, so our process is designed to help to make decision-making smoother and consensus easier, so we can quickly answer the big positioning questions that your team keeps talking about and then kicking down the road.
Ready to stop waiting for the perfect time to invest in your brand and take the first step to safeguarding your company’s future? Schedule a discovery call with the Six-Point brand strategists now.