As a brand or business, the way we communicate impacts everything we do.
Having launched my own business in November, I understand first-hand one of the greatest challenges that many businesses face: how to balance your sales or services with essential administrative and strategy work.
Here, I’ve compiled a list of five cardinal sins most brands make regarding their communications - and a quick guide on how to remedy them. I hope it makes for useful reading and motivates you to make changes and enlist the right experts to help.
1. No Communications Strategy
The absence of a communications strategy is one of the biggest mistakes brands can make, yet businesses of all sizes are guilty of this. Putting the cart before the horse, brands without a clearly articulated communications strategy may be missing their “who”, “what” and “why”.
While a ‘communications strategy’ can be a relatively abstract term, at its core a comms strategy should articulate a clear brand value proposition: the who, what and why.
As Godfrey Huybregts writes for Marcomm Works, “Non-strategic communication activities are program-focused, activity-oriented and reactive. This approach relegates communications to a support function where value is measured by output rather than outcome.”
The Fix: Invest in a communications strategy for your business to ensure your communications are in sync with your business’ objectives and are good value for effort.
Don’t have the skills in-house? Contact KIS for assistance, or seek out another marketing/ communications professional to help you.
2. Neglecting Proofreading
Neglecting proofreading is a basic but consistent error that brands make. You cannot proofread your own work. Even as a sub-editor, I know this to be true.
From stationery brands that can’t spell stationery - trust me, there are many (think ‘e’ for envelope); to websites filled with internal jargon that only those in that business will really understand, many brands are guilty of this. These errors could be a roadblock to potential sales, or they might diminish your brand’s credibility.
In a previous life I worked as a sub-editor with Burberry at their London headquarters; a brand that perfectly understood the importance of proofing all of its external comms.
The Fix: All brands should seek the assistance of a sub-editor or proofreader for their external communications. If you’re low on cash, at the very least ensure multiple pairs of eyes have looked over the copy, but preferably enlist a sub! This is always money well spent.
3. Keeping it All In-House
This is another all too common error that brands make, often in order to save dollars in the short-term, or time spent briefing an external contractor.
Of course, this only works where the person in-house is an expert at the particular task at hand. Graphic design, web development and copywriting are all classic examples. We’ve all seen Clip Art-inspired in-house graphics and read copy that lacks clarity. Ultimately, keeping it all in-house when expertise may be lacking hurts your brand.
The Fix: Enlisting the right professional should always save time and dollars in the long-run, and achieve a more professional result. So keep it in-house where your team have the skills and knowledge, and outsource the rest.
4. Too Many Platforms Too Quickly
A classic mistake in the digital age, brands often see the prospective lead generating rewards of social media and are desperate to get on the bandwagon. Those who are late to the party are often particularly guilty of this.
A conversation I had recently with an executive went something like this: “We want to get on social media so we can start generating donations, but we don’t really have a budget for it.” The organisation also didn’t have anyone on their marketing team at the time, any brand guidelines, any up-to-date marketing or communications strategy documents, or any clearly documented organisational objectives beyond generating donations.
My advice for companies in this boat? Start at the beginning and be clear about what you want to achieve and the best social media channels for reaching your specific audience. If your budget is small, be realistic about what you can achieve. Any good digital marketing agency - KIS included - will begin by conducting a communications audit and creating a strategy document to ensure you get the best bang for your buck.
While social media platforms present immense opportunities, The Guardian’s Jerry Daykin says brands “should plan their social media investments by working out what percentage of the audience they want to reach and at what frequency each month, not just by assigning one-off spends to specific posts”.
Remember, quality over quantity applies in the digital space too. As a brand you’re better off starting with less channels and doing them well, rather than spreading your staffing and/ or social media advertising dollars too thin.
The Fix: If you have the budget, invest in a digital communications strategy. If you don’t, remember less is more. Start with one or two social media platforms and experiment with regular small advertising spends to see what works.
5. Content for content’s sake
Many brands are guilty of flooding their audience with an endless stream of content - relevant or otherwise - across multiple channels. While regular posting is useful, the quality over quantity rule still applies.
As TeleTech explain, “engaging material has the power to strengthen customer loyalty and advocacy, while mediocre work will likely have the opposite effect”. So, poor quality content, or overdoing it with the frequency - especially in the form of direct marketing - may result in brand attrition.
The Fix: Post and send your customers engaging, quality content that speaks to your brand values. Seek support from content marketers, such as the KIS team, when you need assistance.
So, get writing, posting, designing and marketing your brand - and don’t forget these fixes to improve your brand’s performance! Remember, when in doubt, seek expert support.
The KIS Communications team is on hand to help. Visit www.kiscommunications.com.au or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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Photo credits: The Fashionisto and officelovin.com