In my line of work, you have to repeat yourself a lot. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to say, “Your brand is your most important asset.” And you wouldn’t believe some of the things I hear.
One time, I told the founder and CEO of a company his brand was his most important asset. He said, with disarming affability, “That’s bullshit.”
“What do you mean?” I asked him.
He said, “Brand is just something you marketing guys make up, so you’ll have something to do.”
There’s nothing to do with a guy like that but to be just as affable as he is as you’re walking away.
On another occasion, I got a call from a company that had established a successful, near-30-year history-making software for the third-party collection industry. At one point, some software-tweaker tweaked their software and decided they could sell it to the healthcare industry for revenue cycle management. Their first move? Hire a telemarketing company (?!), which they paid for a full year.
The CEO called and asked me to come out for a visit. I made the trip and walked into a meeting with some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.
Referring to the telemarketing firm, I asked, “How many sales did they make?”
“None,” they said.
“What did you get out of it?” I asked.
“We found out we had less than four percent brand awareness among all the healthcare organizations the telemarketers called in a year.”
“What did you expect?” I asked.
In its defense, the company thereafter allocated a budget for advertising. We placed ads in the top 10 publications in the healthcare industry. Within six months, sales were through the roof.
Do I sell advertising or work miracles? No. I solve marketing mysteries that never should have been mysteries in the first place.
If you want to build brand awareness and credibility, advertise. Will you have to pay for it? Yes. Will that advertising and a disciplined sales effort more than offset the cost? Yes. Do most companies have the courage to make that kind of investment in themselves or the foresight to see the benefits? No.
As my big sister loves to say, “No guts, no air medals.”
Case in Point: The Case of the Cold Feet. I only wish it hadn’t been true: