SALES, MARKETING AND BRANDING
Marketing and branding are two of the major buzzwords that we use in the industry. The confusing part is that non-industry professionals often mix up branding and marketing and use the terms interchangeably. There is a distinct difference between marketing and branding that can be easily explained. Before we jump into the differences we need to understand what each term means on its own. Both of them are powerful means of spreading information, but both have their own specific uses. Let’s clear up some misconceptions about the terms before we delve any further into their inherent differences.
What is Branding?
Branding is the process by which you reduce a company’s reputation to a single word. A brand is an easily recognizable representation of the particular company. Something that resonates with the user so that at a glance they know what they’re dealing with. Branding gives personality to a company and attaches an attribute to the company that appeals to the demographic of its core audience. Thus, companies such as Toyota are known for their reliability or Volvo is known for their safety records. Each of these brands have built their brands into easily recognizable traits that allow them to appeal to their customers in a unique way. It makes their business into more than just another faceless entity.
What is Marketing?
Marketing is a blanket statement that covers all forms of interaction with the customer as well as utilizing models in order to develop targeted advertising to reach out to a specific type of consumer. Marketing incorporates all forms of advertisement. In addition to this, marketing also deals with understanding the consumer or the audience and developing ways to utilize this deeper understanding.
Where do Branding and Marketing Meet?
Because these two disciplines are concerned with getting information out to the customer, they must meet at some level. Marketing and branding are both different facets of the overall content development strategy for a company. Your marketing should incorporate branding into it in order for you to cultivate customer loyalty. Branding allows you to represent your company in a certain light and build off the information that is gained by marketing. On the other side of the coin, marketing allows you to build a rapport with your audience and introduce them to your branded theme. These concepts go hand in hand, but they are not interchangeable.
What is the Major Difference between Marketing and Branding?
In a word, marketing is tactical whereas branding is strategic. I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t tactical and strategic the same thing?” No, they aren’t, as Kissmetrics points out. Marketing is where the brand is presented and it contributes to overall branding. However, long after the marketing campaign has been exhausted the brand loyalty will remain. This is where branding and marketing part ways.
When we say that marketing is tactical, we mean that it deals with getting its payload of information delivered. It doesn’t try to shape the user’s long-term feelings towards the product, it simply gets in and convinces the customer of the benefits. Branding, on the other hand, seeks to embrace a more long-term view of the customer. By strategic leverage of the brand, we can eventually call upon the customer’s loyalty to the brand in order to close a sale. But this is something that requires you to give back to the customer. You need to cultivate your brand image in such a way that the customer associates an idea with your brand.
How Marketing Works Alongside Branding To Build Business
Do you remember those old TV shows where there would be a sleeper agent that needs a secret code to “activate” them? Marketing is a little like that. It discovers and “activates” buyers, encouraging them to close sales. Branding goes one step further by making those buyers into loyal customers. One of the most common examples of this is the market for Apple products. Apple has made an art out of branding and this has carried over into products in many different branches of the electronics industry.
Taking a look at the Apple target demographic, we see that their aim was to produce a product that was sold solely for its importance as a status symbol. Thus, their marketing spread the message that apple products are available, but the branded apple product was joined by its numerous sister products that fall under the brand. When the consumer sees Apple now, then it’s understood that they are paying for Apple’s reputation as something that the cool, the chic and the hip use.
Building brand loyalty is what branding does and by making loyal customers out of your one-time buyers, you develop a ready market and audience that are willing and eager to receive your content.
Which One is a Better Investment?
Both marketing and branding are good investments and have their own type of returns. Marketing can easily be done wrong and if so, it can become a money sink into which a lot of cash if poured but the returns are mediocre. Well-researched marketing gives great returns on investment but the success of the campaign depends as much on the amount of effort put into it as the amount of money. The returns are, of course, seen in conversions and sales. Branding, because of its status as a long-term investment, is usually easier to adjust as time goes by. Catastrophic failures in branding do occur, but these are usually due to bad planning as opposed a lack of funding. The return you get from branding is customer loyalty, something that can be leveraged over and over again. Marketing is necessary to make branding work, but your real benefit comes from having a loyal customer base to call on when releasing new products.
Development of a User Base
Not so far back, probably less than five years ago, a large volume of the marketing community was involved in “renting” their target demographic. They worked from the start of their campaign and then built it to the point where their customers would be converted through their methods. This method had middling success, but at the time was hailed as revolutionary. No need to hang around after the sale, no need to contact the client after the sale is done, and no follow up action to ensure that the client buys from the company again.
We have changed out outlook on how we interact with customers. Having a loyal following is far better for a company than simply renting an audience. Borrowing your audience means you have to return them to oblivion someday and that makes whatever effort you throw into a marketing campaign targeting these customers a moot point. Combining branding along with your marketing is how you retain these customers as a loyal following.
In addition to this, when you have a retained customer base, you create a series of customers that help to spread your brand. That’s utilizing earned media to its fullest. When a customer makes a statement that you put onto your website or blog about a particular product, the consumer has learned to take these with a grain of salt. However, when such a statement is made directly to them, it carries a whole lot more weight and can even convince them to buy your product. What you’re doing by cultivating a brand is creating a series of “brand evangelists” that spread the word about your products without you having to invest any extra time into getting the word out.
Giving Back To The User
The number one thing that you should be looking at from your branding and marketing perspective is to give back to the user. Recently, GE’s blog, GE Reports, was featured as one of the leaders in branding because of their unique approach. What GE does is to provide information to the clients, thereby focusing on a target demographic of people interested in science. This ties in well with GE’s vision of itself as a leader in technology and innovation. By providing content that appeals to their target demographic, GE is tapping into this set of users and cultivating them as a ready market for new, innovative products.
Interspersed with their scientific updates and news in the field of technology, GE Reports also allows GE to tap directly into their fan base with their advertising. GE has always been considered a leader in the world of technology and innovation, but it’s only recently that the everyday person could look at GE and associate their brand with something like this. That’s the power of what GE Reports does, and what targeted blogging in the name of branding can do for your business.
Branding Is The Way To Go
Marketing is necessary, we don’t doubt that. However, marketing by itself can’t develop an audience that is receptive to your message. Branding is what makes your audience interested in your message and prevents you from having to reinvent the wheel every time you develop marketing content. Use your marketing to develop your branding but don’t ever forget the distinction between them. This difference is important to define both terms as well as to figure out what you plan to accomplish with each. There are many companies out there that are skilled in creating contentfor both marketing and branding purposes. If you intend to develop your branding professionally, this is the direction you should be headed.
Have a digital relationship with them, which we’ll discuss more next. We’ve created promotions for every month of the year. These are available to you on this platform. We’ll help you create your promotion and help you market it properly. These promotions need to be planned out months in advance. Best marketing tool you have is your delivery rep, which we’ve already discussed in detail. Stay current, keep up with trends, paleo, keto, etc. Downloadable resources on the website to help w monthly promos. Holiday specials, promote them in a timely fashion. You’ll learn more about this in the next zone. Advance planning.
“As marketers, we should be changing the mantra from always be closing to always be helping.” -Jonathan Lister, VP North American Sales, LinkedIn
While the general definitions of sales and marketing are similar, they are far from interchangeable. In fact, the goals of sales and marketing, and the reasons for using one over the other, often vary significantly. Understanding the difference is important. They are the cornerstones of building your corporate catering client base.
Sales vs. Marketing
“Sales and Marketing” is a tenet often used together, as if both words have the same meaning. They do not. Let’s start with a definition of sales and a definition of marketing.
Sales are what you say and do during the moment your product or service is being purchased. In our world, the same sale can be processed at different points in time. For example, when a client gives you the “ok” on a proposal, you have a preliminary sale. When a delivery representative sets up that order, confirms its accuracy, and asks the client to sign the invoice, that is a final sale.
Marketing is what you do before and after the sale. It is about building awareness and relationships. Marketing is any action that makes “the phone ring” the first time and convinces customers to purchase from you again. For example, when you have any special menu or theme packages you create and promote, such as a “Super Bowl Buffet” or your “Spring Specials,” you are marketing your operation.
How do Sales and Marketing work in synergy, and how can you measure the results? These are a few areas to consider:
- How long does it take to build trusting business relationships?
- What is your process to get that first order (sale) placed?
- How do you convince a new customer to buy from you again or refer you to others?
First Things First: Begin by attracting potential new customers. This is where marketing must take charge in the sales and marketing relationship. Marketing feeds sales. Some of your leads and prospects will convert into clients. The reality, however, is that many more will not. No matter how you slice it, marketing is the engine that drives future sales and revenues.
Sales and Marketing will always be natural partners, but their functions are quite different. Regardless of the size of your operation, it is critical to decide what person or department is responsible for the different components. Be careful not to fall into the trap of spending all your time in one area and none in the other. Ideally, they should be happening at the same time, but independently of each other.
FIVE Parts of the Process, and How the Responsibilities Can Be Delegated:
1. Prospecting and Lead Generation (MARKETING)
2. Conversion to considering your services by placing an order or agreeing to a Tasting (MARKETING)
3. Creating a positive buying experience (SALES)
4. Follow-up / Thank You (SALES and MARKETING)
5. Retention / Repeat Business (MARKETING)
Repeat Business is the lifeblood of a successful corporate drop-off catering operation. Always keep this in the forefront as you build your sales and marketing strategies around it.
Be Active in Your Community
- When you can, donate food / beverages to community events.
- Consider adding a “Donation Request” link to your website.
- Join your local chamber of commerce. They usually have monthly networking meetings with other business owners in the community. For information about your local chapter, contact your city or town hall, or search on the internet. ! Know What Makes Your Customer Smile (and Frown):
- Maintain a database record of their favorite sandwich or dessert – and surprise them once in awhile.
- Maintain a database of “Absolutes with Every Order.” (Example: Always include Vegetarian Option...Cannot use Sterno in Building...Orders ALWAYS need to be set-up.) Follow Up – especially after a large or multiple day events.
- If you helped plan the menu, ask your client: How was the food received? Were the quantities of everything appropriate? How helpful was the delivery person? Ask, “What would you like done differently next time? You would like to enter this information into their database profile while it is still fresh in their mind.
Be Available for Your Customers
- Give your best clients your cell phone number so they can contact you in an emergency. It will be a rare event if they use it. If they do use it, it is usually pretty important.
- Be sure your staff knows which customers you are always available for. Consider posting a list by the phones or in the office.
- Tell a customer, “If I am on another line when you call, please tell my staff person your name, (until they get to know your voice!) and that I’ve requested they let me know when you are on the line...” Give Away Free Stuff
- Do not be shy about scheduling as many complimentary Tastings as possible with qualified prospects.
- If you have a restaurant and/or retail shop, offer samples to hungry customers. A slice of turkey breast, fresh out of the oven, or a couple of bites of a new dessert can go a long way.
- Surprise a catering client by including a new salad with their delivery. Include a note, “Hi Mary, our chef made this new Summer Salad, and we would appreciate feedback from your group. Enjoy!” Reward Your Big Fish
Although it seems counter-intuitive, it is not uncommon to take regular or bigger customers for granted – especially after you have been catering to them for a while. DON’T DO IT. If they have not noticed yet – they will soon. Remember the things you did that got you the account in the first place – and never let up. If your service to them has slipped, and they have not replaced you with a new caterer yet, count your blessings – and re-commit to them THIS MINUTE. Think about all the work that goes into acquiring new business. And then figure out how many smaller accounts you would need to reel in to replace the volume if you lost them.
Acknowledge your appreciation for their business. Once or twice a year, schedule a complimentary delivery of something a little different that you want them to try, and get their feedback.
A gift certificate to a favorite restaurant or a couple of tickets to a game or show for your key contact person can go a long way. If it feels expensive, compare it to the volume of business they give you in a calendar year.
Trivia Question: When you enter a waiting room, a train station, an office lobby, a ballpark, almost anywhere that we congregate, what are about 50% of the people doing?
Answer: Staring intently into their hand-held mode of communication, feverishly banging the keyboard.
Irony: While virtually everything in today’s world is more accessible including people, we have lost some of the human connection. For instance, when you ask anyone under the age of 30 to “give you a call” (as opposed to a text) does it feel like the equivalent of asking them to “pop a VHS tape into the VCR player?”
Tactical Suggestion: As you embrace sales and marketing technologies in the new world, be careful not to lose the human touch that prospects want and need. Remember the old school mantra, “Nothing really happens until somebody has a conversation with somebody else.”
Building Brand Buzz
Be aggressive about online publicity opportunities. Find sources that write about the restaurant and/or catering business and reach out to them. These people have readers who rely on them for information. You have knowledge that could be of interest. You might suggest contributing an article about Greener initiatives for restaurant and catering companies, or Current food ordering trends in corporate America, or How the droughts in California affects menu pricing. You might also just say, “We would like to contribute to your work. How can we help?” Consider being a source for reporters. HelpaReporter.com and ReporterConnection.com are free and allow you to examine interview requests from journalists.
Define Your Message
What is your message to customers?
Involve your staff in this process. By doing so, they will work hard towards successful implementation. Besides, for your message to stick, everyone needs to be on board.
Getting Your Message to Stick
Getting your message to stick is not easy. However, if you can achieve even a modest level of success, you could be on your way. What does getting your message to stick mean? Here is one example. In Boston, if The Corporate Caterer asked ten people who they would call if their windshield was cracked, at least half would say 1-800-54- GIANT. Granted, a substantial advertising budget has been dedicated to drilling this phone number into consumer’s minds over the years – but the message sticks.