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Retaining a marketing mind

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In respect to not burying the lead, this is my final Modern Marketing column.

Through these monthly columns published over nearly six years, I have tried to cover trends and emerging marketing/public relation skills for both practitioners and interested readers alike. In 60-plus articles, I did manage to predict some major trends such as the accurate favorable forecast for then-rare podcasts, separation of streaming digital subscriptions from cable, and prediction of online sales of products like mattresses making significant inroads to the business segment.

One reader noted to me that the “columns could be stapled together and used for a marketing course.” Well, at this point, the digitization of the field will likely be the main focus of future marketing discussions, and I leave that up to some native learners. Effective marketers will always need to keep ahead of communications, products and services attributes, and changing tools. A few of my final thoughts and examples follow.

Your product

“The product is a variable.” This mantra remained at my work areas for various roles in my own career. It summarizes the best way for businesses and organizations to retain a marketing mindset. What does the message mean? Challenge your organization not to remain stagnant whether you have a successful product or service.

Product managers at major companies like Becton-Dickinson have long known not to count on customers maintaining loyalty to its products when desirable competition arrives. So-called product features and benefits need to be refreshed and developed to maintain sales and interest. Market research and development costs associated with these necessary changes are seldom questioned. Products have a life cycle, but changes can extend their life.

Certainly, accepting the need to change your product has been critical to survival since the pandemic became a reality. I can point out a few local businesses who did change. FreedomCar, a well-run car service business with airport transfers as its bread and butter, understandably found fewer of its regulars were traveling. The company had a well-maintained client mail list and creatively introduced a car washing service to help sustain itself through the toughest of times.

Video production company VPC is another great example. When events were no longer held in person, the VPC team developed (or expanded) its expertise in Zoom and comparable services for online programs and events, adding the needed professionalism and savvy for success. With VPC’s help, the Irvine Nature Center converted its popular Pumpkins on the Green in-person fund raising event last year to a highly successful Pumpkins on the Screen program.

Branding 101

“Be on brand,” as Dan Levy, star of ‘Schitt’s Creek,” often said about his over-the-top character David and his upscale goals for his business.

In real life, branding is a significant key to achieving marketing goals in whatever communications formats you choose to use. Your website, letterhead, press release, business cards, PDF hand-outs, etc. all need to have the same impression. Digital and print projects should be compatible in design.

Brand repetition and cohesiveness are not boring, they are valuable business assets, and intellectual property lawyers will confirm the need (and value) to develop and maintain a brand identity. Major companies are generally very careful about rebranding and you should as well. In fact, it will be interesting to see if the newly announced “Meta” name and logo can help to change the tarnished image of Facebook. With significant money to spend and owning the Facebook venues, it is likely.

For everyone else, without extensive research and identified financial assets, proceed with care on trying to change your brand.

As an example, a focused team spent three years at Villa Julie College to rename the established college to its university status along with the selection of the name as Stevenson University. That rebrand was then carefully orchestrated with a variety of constituents and the marketing efforts enabled a rapid conversion to the new name and brand. Branding takes time and planning to be successful.

I hope your future marketing efforts are focused and successful, and that you stay relevant to the marketing (and public relations) field and its changes by continuing to read online and print publications, watching relevant videos, and interacting with your colleagues through professional associations and events.

My computer keypad is now seriously missing lettering for the “S”, “C”, “A”, and “E” keys so I bid this columnist role farewell.

Glenda LeGendre is principal of Strategic Marketing and Communications and can be reached at glegendre@comcast.net. The Modern Marketing columns are archived at TheDailyRecord.com.