When I was in my twenties and fresh out of school, I worked as the Advertising Manager for a large retail store. It was a great experience where I learned a lot. Even though my bucket of knowledge was very shallow, I still had far more awareness of marketing communications strategy than my employers. It was a great place for a young beginner to shine.
I did everything!
Over the course of a few years, I served as marcom strategist – a novel concept for my bosses–, designer, writer, photographer, trade show planner, media planner and buyer, broadcast director, etc. As I said, I learned a lot. Mostly, I learned about my own strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, my employers saw me as the person who should do it all, and for a lot less money than it would cost to hire experts. I sure wasn’t in much of a position to argue with them. Their opinion was that if we had to hire vendors to do the work, they didn’t need me. Like many business owners, they saw advertising as an expense that they hated. And, branding? They had no clue. They wanted me to drive traffic into the store as cheaply as possible. Period!
A few years later, as a manager of a radio network, I worked for a very opinionated and masterful businessman who had mastered the art of harnessing the talents of others. His philosophy was to hire great staff and vendors, pay them well, and get the heck out of their way. Working for him was a culture shock. Afraid to spend company money, I continued to try to do everything myself. The results were less than spectacular and he made sure I understood that. “What were you thinking,” he asked me one day. “Why didn’t you hire someone to do the project right?” Lesson learned? Hire experts and do the job right!
He told me that when I was given the title, “Manager,” I was expected to manage, not do. He taught me that by hiring others with specialized expertise, the results would be far superior than trying to do the work myself.
Today, I still see companies and communities trying to do things on the cheap. Now, don’t get me wrong. I do understand the need to control costs. Money does matter. But results matter much more.
About a year ago, I met a young lady who was very frustrated with her boss. She had only been on the job for a few months, but her boss insisted that she not use “expensive outsiders” to do the required work. He wanted her to do everything. In fact, he agreed to pay for design software and for a class where she could learn to use it. I really felt bad for her. She was overworked and greatly underutilized.
Like my former employer, her boss wanted her to be the copywriter, graphic designer, photographer, and even a sales person. She’s only one person! When she was given the title, “Manager,” she thought she was going to get to manage. Surprise! She should have been given the title, “Multi-Tasking Marketing and Sales Wonder Woman.”
Strategy is crucial!
Something I hear all the time is, “Jim, we know our clients and what we want to say to them.” Great, but if all you do on your web site and in your brochures is tell, tell, tell, about all the things you do, the audience will tune out and move on. You must understand not only what they want to hear, but how they want to hear it. That’s what a well written strategic message plan does.
Know your clients and their target industries
Before I describe our team, you need to first understand our clients. We only work in three industries and they are very high-end. Economic developers work to attract jobs to communities. Architects, engineers, and construction professionals work with clients to create amazing and functional spaces. Real estate professionals develop and sell properties.
Each of these industries requires huge investments involving many millions of dollars and hundreds or thousands of jobs. They are not for the faint of heart, nor for weak marketing approaches. Expert marketing communications and tactical plans mean everything to the brand positions of such companies and communities.
This explains why we specialize. We are experts in these industries and we have become a powerful resource for our clients because we understand their industries and their target audiences.
Our team approach
As my old boss understood, a talented team of experts cost more money, but they will make you look great. At Brand Acceleration, our experts work as an extension of our clients, helping them to achieve outstanding results. Mediocrity is not an option.
Just knowing how to use design software does not make someone a designer. Our designers are educated and experienced experts in the art of visual communications. They understand the science of moving a reader’s eye across a page and leading them to turn or click a page. “Pretty” is just not good enough.
Similarly, our writers are master communicators. For them, message is everything. The difference between expert and novice writers is the ability to connect, communicate and generate results. If your writing is nothing more than “talk and tell,” you’re on a path to failure.
And, our public relations folks, web programmers, and project managers are nothing less than the best. Why? Our clients require it.
Step it up!
If your industry, like those of our clients, is very competitive and has a high cost of entry, you need to surround yourself with a team of very skilled professionals. Like a professional sports team, it’s a beautiful thing to watch. At the end of the day, you will be the winner.