Jim Murray en Professions, Workers, Careers, Directors and Executives, Managers Creative Director, Writer, Art Director, Project Manager • Onwords & Upwords Inc 17/1/2019 · 2 min de lectura · 1,3K

Branding & Communications – Investment or Expense?

Branding & Communications – Investment or Expense?In the branding & communications business, the difference between the clients you want to work for and all the rest lies, to a great extent in their attitude towards the cost of your services.

And this relates directly to their broader perception of what it is you do for them. If they think of the strategic development, branding and creative services you provide as some sort of commodity, they will always be complaining and beating you up on price.

This is an attitude that derives from a combination of ignorance of the process and simply not being able to view these services as anything genuinely tangible.

You find this attitude to be most common among certain types of entrepreneurs, who tend to believe that communications, corporate identity and any sort of ‘low return’ targeted marketing programs are nothing more than poor cousins to the ‘super salesmanship’ that has got them to this point already and will most likely carry them on to greater heights in the future. These people are slightly delusional.

Another type of client who tends to denigrate and lack belief in the power of branding and communications is the ‘inventor’. These are people who have come up with something they believe is so great that, with very little effort, the world will simply beat a path to their door and they had better be prepared with a well-designed supply chain system. These people are even more delusional than the ‘supersalesmen.’

The Big Squeeze

If we are lucky, we do not encounter too many of these people. But we do encounter a few. And because it is in our nature to try to lock down anything that comes through the door, we often (maybe too often), tend to simply make these people an offer they can’t refuse, just to get the business.

This is the point of epic fail that ripples like a small tsunami through the communications industry. Every time somebody makes a substantial compromise on price just to appease a client, three things happen.

1. That client now thinks that he can get everything in the way of communication services cheaper...

2. Which, in turn, and depending on the number of times it happens in any given area of branding and marketing, is another significant lowering of the perceived value of that service or set of services…

3. Which in turn, not only affects your profitability, but the profitability of everyone you subcontract services to. Because if you are being squeezed, then you have to squeeze them.

An Educated Client Is Your Best Customer

One way to help avoid the epic fail outlined above is simply by educating your client. And here are some ways to do that:

1. Don’t Be An Order Taker: Use your case histories and testimonials to show them the value in what it is you do.

2. No Us & Them: Let your client know right from the start that you consider them to be a partner in the process, that there is no us and them. If they have an intellectual and emotional investment in their own branding and marketing efforts, they will be more likely to appreciate yours.

3. Never Send A Quote: Bring the costs to your client and explain to them how everything is going to come together. Help them visualize what you are going to do for them.

4. Be aware that each of these steps will not go unnoticed or unappreciated, because in addition to being logical, they also help bond you to your clients, creating a real sense that they are not in this alone.

Some clients may be ignorant or arrogant about certain aspects of communication. Some clients may be looking for the best financial deal they can find to make their budgets go farther. And still others may be convinced that their product is simply good enough to sell itself. But one thing they all have in common is that, despite their flaws, they are not stupid. And hopefully they are ‘coachable’.

At the end of the day, it’s up to us to help these clients understand just what it is we can do for them, and persuade them that we can do good things. But most importantly, we need to convince them that marketing, branding and creative development is not an expense, but a blue chip investment with a very high potential ROI.

Jim Murray is an experienced advertising and marketing professional and photographer. He has run his own business (Onwords & Upwords), since 1989 after a 20 year career in Toronto as a senior creative person in major Canadian & international advertising agencies. He is a communication strategist, copywriter, art director, broadcast producer, mildly opinionated op/ed blogger & beBee Brand Ambassador.

Jim lives in St Catharines Ontario, but thanks to the marvel of online communication works with clients all over the place to help them clarify and focus their thinking.

You can follow Jim

On beBee: https://www.bebee.com/bee/jim-murray

On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-murray-b8a3a4/

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jimbobmur

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Jerry Fletcher 20/1/2019 · #5

Jim, Agree. as part of the choir I can say that the one thing that seems to work with the uniformed in our arcane arts is to explain "why" in exquisite detail time and time again. After about the 100th verse they begin to "get it." And so it goes.

Jim Murray 20/1/2019 · #4

#3 Yeah, I know. I post this all over the place and use it in my email marketing. I just start it here because I like the publisher.

+1 +1
Ken Boddie 19/1/2019 · #3

You’re preaching to the converted here, Jim. I have worked most of my career in a specialist sector of consulting engineering, where the clients are rarely ‘educated’. Up front personal explanation of ( and agreement on) the appropriate scope and associated cost structure is essentual, along with clear communication, in order to include the client on the journey from engagement to delivery. Without this clarity, the client can only differentiate on price. You also make a fair point on maintaining costs, since it only takes a couple of competitor organisations to start a downward price spiral. From which, should we choose to enter, it becomes very hard to escape.

Pascal Derrien 18/1/2019 · #2

I concur 100% , many think their product is a Mercedes and I keep telling them that it may well be a Mercedes but if its parked on the driveway it is going be useless.... unless they let me drive it and add some mileage on the highway of communications :-)

Praveen Raj Gullepalli 18/1/2019 · #1

Yes Jim, working as a partner is the best way forward.

But yes, I do constantly meet folks:

1. Who think BC is Commodity selling
2. Who believe super-salesmanship and not BC is the key
3. Who, like your Inventors think BC is a needless luxury
4. Who believe Marketing (their domain) is superior to BC and is meant to serve them
5. Who look at BC as a necessary evil not knowing that the real ammo comes from them
6. From Marketing & Sales who hardly ever realize they would be most likely shooting blanks without the 'real' ammo from BC
7. Who cannot understand that the Brand is always bigger than the hands that build it
8. Who cannot understand the power of a Name...or a Mnemonic...and how they can sell old wine in a new bottle better
9. Who cannot understand that how a name rolls off the tongue and sounds can sometimes decide the fate of a brand
10. Who cannot formulate a brief, have absolutely no friggin idea of what they want, but become very knowledgeable experts and critics of the creatives you present them (having slogged your ass of from scratch).

In short, there are not many out there (including CMOs) who really know their ABCs (Advertising, Branding, Communication) or the difference between Marketing, DM, and Sales functions. So what's new? ;)

Though it takes a lot of patience, forbearance and effort (including personal sacrifice) to make folks either understand or realize through the inevitable unfolding situations - there is hope yet :)