Business is falling foul of the ‘need everything in an instant’ culture.

Too many organisations at board and senior management level see marketing as a cost centre and not much else. This brings unreasonable expectations which put unhelpful pressure on marketing functions to deliver instant results. And it’s down to a fundamental misunderstanding of brand strategy. In particular, it’s down to a misunderstanding of the relationship that a brand has (or at least should have) with its customer. If you are guilty of this, you are compromising the future of your business.

In today’s digital age, we should see the myriad of social media channels available as an opportunity to engage with, and better understand our customer. We should consider the primacy of the customer. Our brand is no longer what we say it is. Our brand is what our customer says it is.

More than ever – whatever your business – it’s crucial to own the relationship with your customer. Instead of using social media channels to run out drab sales messages (messages that probably haven’t worked on other channels), take time to build a meaningful conversation, and in the long run, you will reap the rewards. After all, what is your marketing budget for if not to deliver an effective brand strategy?

So rather than the boardroom demanding to see ROI on every penny spent, perhaps it should empower it’s marketing function with a more tempered approach to brand building.

Around 8 years ago, I said something profoundly stupid (there have been countless other examples of me doing the same since, but this particular one is relevant to my point). I was working on a project with a senior marketer at Yorkshire Tea, and I said: “You lot are so lucky having a brand like this to work with”. Rightly, he replied that it had taken 120 years to build the Yorkshire Tea brand, and that luck wasn’t the key ingredient.

Yorkshire Tea have worked for longer than most brands at building a relationship with their customer. I get a freebie Yorkshire Gold tea bag through the post every Christmas. And another on my birthday a few weeks later. Every summer, “Little Urn” pops up at cricket grounds across the UK serving up A Proper Brew to anyone who wants one.

There will have been a time when Yorkshire Tea’s marketing activity was hugely out of kilter with its sales funnel. But the top brass up in Harrogate were bright enough to see that building a strong relationship between the brand and the customer was the best thing to do for business in the long term. Over the years, by using authenticity (and having a great product, of course), Yorkshire Tea have built a loyal tribe of brand advocates.

And contrary to what many might think, Yorkshire Tea’s patient approach to strategic brand marketing lends itself brilliantly to the modern world of business. Check out #teaonthetrain on Twitter.

Of course, sales revenues are what drive a business, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. But remember to be patient. People don’t want to be sold to – people want to buy. Whether you’re an FMCG brand, sporting organisation, a charity, or whatever – build something authentic that people believe in and have a passion for. Do it right, and people will come. And they’ll bring their mates. Make yourself a brew and think about that. Make sure it’s a proper brew.

Get in touch Or perhaps you’d like to invite Ian in for a brew, to talk about how 438 can help your brand?