Here’s the scene: Three marketing gurus for building product manufacturers sit on a podium. Before them are a couple hundred fellow marketers. They have gathered in Chicago this past month for a conference organized by REMODELING's parent company, Hanley Wood. The gurus’ session is devoted to measuring and maximizing return on marketing investments.
I’d have bet most attendees expected the trio to reveal what types of print advertising and Internet pop-ups do the most to promote a brand. Surely a speaker with a title like Brian Baker’s—senior manager of e-strategy at GAF—would have a Web secret or two to reveal, I thought.
That’s when Baker ran a counter play. “Much more lately, I’d say your brand has to deal with how you relate to people,” he told the audience. “Is it easy to do business with you? That’s branding. ... It’s the sum of what you do.”
With his comments, Baker pretty much channeled Tom Peters and his seminal 1997 essay for Fast Company, “The Brand Called You.” In it, Peters declared: “Everything you do—and everything you choose not to do—communicates the value and character of the brand. Everything from the way you handle phone conversations to the email messages you send to the way you conduct business in a meeting is part of the larger message you’re sending about your brand.”
What Baker—and Peters—are teaching a corporate audience is something lots of remodelers instinctively know: Great marketing is the sum of myriad small actions, any one of which can make the difference between making or losing a sale.
But Baker didn’t add—though Peters did—that there is another key to promoting the brand called you. Ever-changing times require you get ever better at what you do, becoming even easier to do business with in the future than you are today. Continuous improvement is imperative.
“As long as you’re learning, growing, building relationships, and delivering great results,” Peters said, “it’s good for you and it’s great for the company.”
Baker’s repeat of 16-year-old wisdom surely helped some folks at that conference. I hope it helps you, too.-- Webb is editor-in-chief of REMODELING. Follow him on Twitter at @craiglwebb and REMODELING at @remodelingmag.