A few years ago, we coined an expression here at Skona called ‘Brand Gen’ and we have since helped several clients implement this approach.
Consider that the average US CMO tenure is 18 months, and probably even shorter in the Silicon Valley. Then consider the undertaking of building a strong brand, something that takes both time and money. In an environment where you quickly have to show results as a CMO, and continue to do so on a quarterly basis, investing in a long-term campaign is probably not the wisest approach. You’re probably not going to be there long enough to see it completed or even brought to fruition.
Instead, what Boards and CEOs are asking their CMOs for is leads. And data-driven marketing with clear ROI. Which continues to put focus on lead gen and is one of the reasons ABM is so hot right now.
So how do you justify budgets for the ever-important branding campaigns? Because, let’s face it, as marketers we all know that known brands convert better than unknown entities.
Well – in our opinion, you play a game of linguistics and you call the campaign a Brand Gen campaign. Now, that’s something that won’t scare your board or your CEO if you’re spending money on it because you’ll get leads, you’ll show ROI. True, the conversion numbers and the data are not going to be as good as they are for a standard lead gen campaign. But let’s not take our eyes off the prize – this is really a brand campaign in disguise. Meaning, the leads and the conversion are a bonus – not the main intent.
What do you do? How does it work? You can’t drop your standard lead gen activities, as that’s what’s keeping the lights on. But let’s templatize those and make them as easy to implement as possible. Don’t waste your agency’s time (or your in-house team’s) spinning cycles on concepts for this. This needs to look professional and on-brand, but this isn’t from where you’re going to be rolling home the Cannes Lions.
Once the lead gen campaigns are taken care of, you can focus on creating the more important Brand Gen campaign. We believe you should shoot for producing this bigger Blockbuster campaign every 6 months. We do this by starting with client insight from which we build the “Big Idea” and the creative strategy. This then translates into well produced pieces of content such as a video, or some other digital asset, always considered top of the funnel. We then build a microsite where we host the main pièce de résistance, and we support it with other content pieces for lower down the funnel, as well as other interactive tools to drive engagement. Once we have actually lured our audience to our site, we want to provide them with as many entry points as possible. And yes, certain pieces of content should be gated. That’s where our hybrid model comes in.
Now it’s time to send it out to the world! While most lead gen campaigns contain emails and retargeting, your brand gen campaign needs to be seeded in several channels including, of course, email and retargeting, but also general digital media buys as well as sponsoring radio, webinars, print ads, shwag and tradeshow materials. In the Silicon Valley, adding in outdoor boards is a key component in establishing brand awareness. And it’s this proliferation that is the reason we recommend a 6-month run, to make sure the campaign is exhausted to maximize return on investment.
QUICK TIP – THE MAGIC OF SIX:
» run campaign a minimum of 6 months
» use a minimum of 6 channels
» have at least 6 pieces of content