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Refining Your Marketing Message and Strategy After a Shift in Your Brand

Michelle Hunter by Michelle Hunter

Marketing effectively after changes to your business

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The one constant in business is change. We set out with a valuable product or service and a set of assumptions about our customers and our marketplace. Some assumptions are proven correct, but most shift and morph as we interact with real people. Our marketing message must shift too.

We learn (often through trial and error) what works. We build a business around what we learn, and we grow – creating more revenue, building a team, implementing strategy, and defining systems. It all works well… until it doesn’t.  

While we’re busy growing and scaling, we’re often still shifting and modifying our approach to meet client and customer needs. Maybe we’re identifying new products and service offers. Maybe we’re adding team members or shifting as leaders come and go. Eventually, we realize our marketing message and core strategy are no longer aligned with the value we provide in the market. 

Symptoms of Misalignment: 

  • plateaued (or falling) revenue
  • inconsistent lead generation
  • confusion about the value you provide

You might think you need a new website or a better sales team. You may wonder if your pricing is out of whack or if something is wrong with your operations.  I’ve found that most often the problem lies with your marketing message and strategy. 

Here are some things to consider…

What’s shifted in your business? 

Remember the old saw about a frog in a pot of water on the stove? He never jumps away because the change in water temperature is gradual. He doesn’t notice because he loses his perspective and objectivity. You might be that frog… unaware of shifts in your business because they happened over time. 

Intentionally take time to reflect on the shifts in your business. How has your work changed over the past year? Five years? Decade? Consider these questions… 

  • What products /services did we sell successfully in the past? What do we sell most successfully now?  Note the changes and shifts in your work. 
  • What type of client/customer did we serve in the past? Who do we serve most often now? Note the shifts in your ideal client profile. 
  • How did we interact with our customers in the past? How do we interact with them now? Note the shifts in your sales efforts. 

As you reflect, note the shifts that have occurred naturally as you respond to your customers and pivot to maintain sales. But don’t stop there… reflect on what you see and identify areas that need to change significantly in order to keep your business competitive. 

For example, you might sell primarily through an outside sales team and a series of in-person client meetings. Maybe a shift to online sales would boost your results. You might offer products that are no longer popular (or profitable) rather than promoting new products that better serve client needs. 

Use the perspective you’ve gained to think outside the current pot, my froggy friend. 

What’s the impact to your work and your customers?

Now that you’ve identified some shifts (and some possible future shifts), consider how these changes impact your work with your customers. Your products and services are likely meeting needs you didn’t even anticipate in years past. The customers you serve may be different in terms of demographics – age, gender, market segment – and might make buying decisions in different ways than in the past. 

These shifts you identified impact your business and the value you provide in the market. You might have lost exclusivity in the market or gained a new advantage. Your reputation for quality may have grown, but your marketing message and prices might not reflect your improved status. 

That innovative approach you’re so proud of might be languishing because you aren’t communicating it properly or promoting it effectively. The awards you’ve won may be meaningless to your bottom line because you haven’t shared them with potential customers. Your customer retention rates might be falling because your customer service hasn’t modernized to take advantage of new technology. 

This type of deep reflection takes time… so don’t rush here. Involve key team members in the exercise too… they likely have insight from the trenches you miss from your leadership position. 

Review and revise your marketing message.

All of marketing is actually a conversation. If you’ve read a few of my articles, you’ve likely heard this before. If not, here’s one you can check out to get you up to speed. This conversation begins with the need your potential customer recognizes and builds trust and connection until the potential customer gets to the point of purchase. 

Let me repeat myself here – -> An effective marketing conversation begins with a need the potential customer feels which is related to a problem your product or service solves. 

The shifts in your business spark the need to shift your marketing conversation. Your work solves slightly different problems or solves the same problems in innovative new ways. Your potential customers perceive different issues than they did in the past or define the problem in new ways.

Here is a silly example to illustrate a point… 

I own a pair of really warm, snuggly gloves. They have been a favorite of mine for several snowy Michigan winters. I purchased them when I began driving about 45 minutes daily to work. The marketing conversation went something like this… 

  • My fingers were cold. (My felt need)
  • I couldn’t properly control my vehicle without exposing my fingers to the elements. (problem definition)
  • I needed gloves that would keep me warm while still allowing me to drive safely. (solution definition)
  • Try (name brand withheld) gloves – which provide lightweight warmth with a gripping material for improved manual dexterity while driving. (CTA/invitation)

So, here’s the shift. My car has a heated steering wheel so I no longer need to wear gloves while driving… but, I do want to use my phone while outside participating in winter activities. My favorite gloves solve a problem I no longer have… and my changed behavior creates a new problem. I remove my gloves to text a friend and my fingers are cold. 

If the same glove company wants my business, they need to shift the marketing conversation a bit… 

  • My fingers are cold. (My felt need)
  • I can’t properly use my phone without exposing my fingers to the elements. (problem definition)
  • I needed gloves that will keep me warm while still allowing me to text and scroll. (solution definition)
  • Try (name brand withheld) gloves – which provide lightweight warmth with removable fingertips to allow manual dexterity while texting. (CTA/invitation)

See what I did there? In this example, the product had likely already shifted to meet changing consumer demand. By bringing the marketing conversation (and my marketing message) into alignment, the door is open for increased revenue. 

Okay – so this is a silly example. But think about the shifts you’ve identified in your business. Your core marketing message and strateg very likely need a similar shift. 

You’ve shifted. Your marketing message must reflect the shift. 

The process I’ve shared here is very common – especially for established businesses with a track record of success. My advice? Intentionally evaluate shifts in your business and review your marketing strategy and core messaging periodically. How often? Annually at a minimum, but more often if things are changing quickly in your company. 

Looking for a little help here? Let’s talk about your business. I’d love to help you get out of the pot before you boil – and the first conversation is free. Learn more. 

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