Every where I've worked I hear this from clients, many expecting incredible results after just an initial meeting. You have to know who you are and who your customer is before you start. A lot of agencies, maybe desperate for work, don't even begin to go through a process that helps them uncover information.
Michele Schermerhorn President of Online Business Institute Inc.(via the brandXpress blog) has seven key steps that every marketer should go through before they begin developing ads and I'll add into that the brands expression online, websites (comments after the steps are mine):
- Know Your Customers Better Than You Know Yourself - In my mind, this is really what planners and in some cases IAs are for.
- Understand Your Competitive Environment & Competitors - Same thing here. It's important to define your competitors broadly, not just the ones that a client might list out in five minutes. Often a brand is competing with things that might not be in a 'marketing' category (like a TV show competing with activities that don't involve the TV)
- Define Your Brand Personality - This is who you are. If you don't know, how do you expect potential customers to figure it out?
- Make A Brand Promise - Remember that Janet Jackson song in the 80's (pre-wardrobe malfunction) "What have you done for me lately?", your customers sing it all the time. Define what your going to do for them. A definition should be definitive meaning it also says what your not going to focus on without necessarily listing those things out.
- Define Your Brand Strategy - How will you get your message out their in the minds of your customer? Not the tactics, the rules and guidelines that will define and create boarders for the tactics
- Identify Your Branding Game Plan - Now the tactics.
- Be Consistent in Action - Too often we'll plan things out and then, due to expediency or laziness, we'll do things just to get them done. Plan the work, then work the plan.
- Paul Herring