One of the ongoing debates among digital marketers is over whether brand identity or customer understanding is more important in forming a digital marketing strategy.
Proponents of the former say if you haven’t clearly identified what your brand is and what differentiates it, you have no clear message to communicate. The other side argues that understanding the problems, needs, and desires of your customers and prospects is the key.
In this episode, I argue that a both/and approach will yield far better results than the either/or alternative.
Oh…and make sure you watch all the way to the end! Starting with this episode, we’ve added a new little surprise to our endings.
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Mark: In order to market effectively, you have to know your brand’s values and story.
Eric: Bull dinkies. You need to understand intimately your customer’s needs.
Mark: Brand identity.
Eric: Customers needs.
Mark: Hold on. This sounds way too much like those beer commercials back in the ’70’s.
Eric: Yeah, I remember two guys arguing over whether their favorite light beer tasted great or was less filling.
Mark: And do you remember the answer to that question?
Eric: Well, like it was yesterday. The beer was both great tasting and less filling.
Mark: Right, and I believe it’s the same way with this debate.
Eric: Well, there’s a debate about brand identity versus customer needs? Really?
Mark: Yes, I’ve been seeing it all over the internet. Now some marketers say the most important thing is having a clear vision of what your brand stands for, what makes it unique, while others argue that it’s all about the customer. That you must identify and understand the varying wants, needs and desires of your potential customers.
Eric: So, which side do you fall on?
Mark: I’m with George and Billy.
Mark: Now that light beer could have both great taste and be less filling, and so it is with the brand versus customer debate. It’s not either/or, but fundamentally both/and. A successful connection between a brand and a customer is quite literally a relationship.
Now we can make an analogy to real human relationships. Essential to any healthy relationship is successful communication, and effective communication is always a two-way street. You have to have both a clear understanding of what you think and what you want to express, and the ability to listen deeply to what the other person’s expressing. Right, Eric?
Eric: What? Huh? Less filling, tastes great.
Mark: We’ve moved on from that. My point is the brand must know what it is and what it has to offer, and at the same time be listening carefully to and evaluating what customer prospects want and need. Now a brand that doesn’t know what its unique values are, what makes it stand out from the competition, what its story is, doesn’t have anything interesting to say. It’s an empty suit.
Eric: But, on the other hand, if the brand has little or no understanding of its customers and prospects, what their problems and struggles and wants and needs are, then the brand is in danger of looking over those customers and then no connection is made.
Mark: Exactly, so as you devise your marketing plan, as you created your content, as you engage on social media, never make the mistake of unbalancing your message. Always remember that good communication, good relationships, whether between two best friends…
Eric: Yes, or?
Mark: Or between brands and their customers involve two who know each other and know themselves as well.
Eric: Good advice, Mark.