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PODCAST: The buzz about marketing your brand

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PODCAST: The buzz about marketing your brand

By: Dean Dorton | September 30, 2020

Your company builds a brand from the first day it becomes customer-facing. How are you shaping your brand and strategizing your marketing efforts? Jenny Patterson, Marketing Director at Dean Dorton, talks all things marketing—how big data impacts your marketing strategy, how to market to multiple generations, and how to market in this age of resistance.

Unhinged Podcast

Episode 9

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Transcription

Justin Hubbard:
Hey guys, Justin Hubbard here. This episode of Unhinged focuses on all things marketing. We talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly. We talk about the difference between marketing and branding, how your brand is likely your biggest asset, how big data impacts your marketing strategy, and how to market in this age of resistance.

I’m joined by the wonderful Jenny Patterson. Jenny is the marketing and business development director at Dean Dorton. I hope you enjoy our conversation.

All right, Jenny Patterson. Welcome to the show.

Jenny Patterson:
Thanks. Great to be here.

Justin:
So, Jenny, how did you get into marketing?

Jenny:
So this is quite an odd story, but I went to Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, and did an internship at a nonprofit art center there. My major in college was music, but I always had a passion for creative design, graphics. I did my internship, and then their position for the Director of Marketing came open when I was graduating and I was offered the job. So I landed right into marketing for a small nonprofit, trying to figure out what marketing meant for them, how to do it with a next-to-nothing budget, then kind of have grown from there.

Justin:
So I’m curious—a music major—what area?

Jenny:
Singing.

Justin:
Singing.

Jenny:
Which I will not be doing on the podcast today!

Justin:
Another opportunity for us to land a sponsor, denied. So, okay, that’s fascinating because you were one, at a wonderful liberal arts college, Centre College. You go to work for a very creative group in the art world and now you’re at a public accounting firm—so what went wrong?

Jenny:
Right, we took a big swing to the other side. I’ve always loved business and just learning about business, so I wanted to get into business marketing and understand that a bit more. So an opportunity opened up in the Lexington office for Dean Dorton and that was kind of my next step. I was with Dean Dorton in Lexington for about two years, and then really wanted to move to Louisville. Louisville is just a fascinating city to me. I have a lot of memories there from childhood, with my grandparents being there. That was always my landing place.

There was a job opening for Maker’s Mark to help run the ambassador program for them. So that was my next big step was to go to that side, which I absolutely loved working both from Doe-Anderson, the advertising agency side, along with Maker’s Mark brand from both of those standpoints and getting to learn a lot more about the branding process and thought processes behind branding and marketing and powerful brand stories of course, for Maker’s Mark, and then got lured back to Dean Dorton, keeping in touch with a few people throughout those years.

Justin:
I’m laughing at the use the word, lured. You threw out the terms branding and marketing, which I’ve noticed a lot of people in your area are very specific. Whereas people like me, more simple-minded, will just say marketing, and we cast a broad net. So how do you differentiate branding from marketing?

Jenny:
So branding is really who you are and your identity as a company, and marketing is the tactical piece of that, how you are getting that message out there. It’s really important at the very base of your company level, to understand who you are as a brand. That’s everything from your mission statement, your values. It all is very internal facing and that’s very much on purpose because if you understand your brand and who you are internally, that’s what you’re going to exude externally. That’s how you determine who is that customer or client that you want to have, who is that ideal person? Well, if you understand that internally, you know then how to use that tactically externally, and use marketing pieces to help drive yourself and those connections.

Justin:
It’s interesting to me, the concept of a brand starts on day one, as soon as you’re client-facing or customer-facing or product-facing. Taking your brand from day one, opening the door all the way to, let’s say, you go through your business life cycle, it’s still that same brand and it’s still the fruit of what was built on day one.

Jenny:
Correct, yep, and you can take a step back. There may be certain points in time that you say as an organization, we really need to step back and assess some of these brand pieces. Maybe they no longer fit for some reason, or there’s tweaks you want to make to them. Your mission and your values are probably always going to be the same, but there may be a tweak in wording that you want, to make it feel more inclusive or have a bigger effect to it.

It’s not off the table to go back and reassess some of that, especially as you think about your culture and you build your business. As it grows, you may realize, okay, we missed the mark on a couple of pieces, but we really do believe in this and want this to be a part of our core, so you try and integrate those. So I think it’s important to always understand that once you define your brand, it’s not something that can’t go back and worked on and built on over the years.

Justin:
How important is it that a company who’s trying to either build its brand or reassess its brand, bring in outside input to help with that process?

Jenny:
I think it’s huge. I think you can do it internally as a process yourselves if you want. I think it’s almost better to have a third party come in and help you. Then the other large piece of that is bringing in feedback. So whether that’s from colleagues or from personal close friends of your organization to also give their opinion on it, because you are so tied in sometimes that you may not have a perspective that somebody else is bringing, but what they notice really does matter to you, and you’ve just somehow left that out.

So that gives you the opportunity then to get a holistic perspective on it. Having a third party lead you in some of those sessions allows you to get outside of the box of what you think and you know, and start to ask some of those hard questions, maybe of have you considered this? Why didn’t you consider this? Make you really dive deep. It takes time. You’ve got to ask a lot of hard questions, a lot of deep questions of yourself, who you want your company to be, who your coworkers are, whoever that core group is in the beginning, to make sure you’re all aligned. But if you can do that and do it thoughtfully and put in the time, it really then helps build yourselves from then on out.

Justin:
So marketing drives me crazy because there are so many buzz words. What is your favorite buzz word at the moment?

Jenny:
Oh gosh. Right now I would have to say data analytics. Between that and SEO, you’re pretty much tied. We talk about big data. There are so many data points coming at you as a marketer, and you’ve got to be able to understand it, distill and use whatever tools you have access to, to help distill that information down for you, to help make your marketing tactics better. Otherwise, you’re spending a lot of money with not understanding the output of where that money is going.

SEO of course, is search engine optimization, which is how you’re getting identified on Google and other search functions. That of course was ever important up until COVID-19 came into place, and even more so important after that, with more people having to find things digitally. As generations start to shift, you’ve probably noticed a lot of people ask and do a lot of upfront research before they ever pick up the phone to call you or purchase something from your website. Even if you’re a nonprofit or say, a higher education institution, you’ve got people doing their research upfront, so they may not come visit if you’ve got bad reviews online, or they see something that just doesn’t appeal to them specifically, they may move on and not even had the chance to come meet you face-to-face. It’s something to really try and hone in on and access, and make sure you’re using those tools to the best of your ability.

Justin:
It seems like first impressions are everything.

Jenny:
Mm-hmm.

Justin:
Well, first impressions used to be your front door or your receptionist, and now it’s your online presence. Is that fair to say?

Jenny:
Yes.

Justin:
In this world of social media, what then is the role of a website, when you have all of the social media chirping going on?

Jenny:
So social media really acts as just another outlet. So when you think about your marketing tactics, social media is one itself. Your website is one itself. Ideally you have people coming to your website and resharing a piece of content from your website to their social media platform, so it gets to their personal circle and interactions that way. Social media is great for reviews. Great for being able to have videos and more of those things that you might have on the website, but they’re just easier to access and share with your friends and your colleagues and whoever else on social media. So it’s really just another piece of the puzzle that helps amplify your brand at the end of the day.

Justin:
Yeah. Before we started recording, we were talking about the Simon Sinek book, Why. It seems like marketing is such a wide area, and also just brand policing, if you will, that it’s very easy for a company to lose sight of its “why.”

Jenny:
So I think, at the basis of understanding your business, you’ve got to understand why. You can put all the time and money into your website, into your social media, into your content. But if you don’t know why you’re creating it or who your customer is, or the ideal customer you want to work with is then it’s all for naught at the end of the day, because you’re either getting customers that are not who you want to interact with for a long-term basis, or you’re just spinning your wheels, trying to throw content on the internet, which is fine, but that doesn’t build your brand. That doesn’t make a great brand.

So if you think about your Nike, your car dealers, like Mercedes-Benz. Some of your larger, your Apples, you think about all these large companies and how their brand is so big and so profiled. It’s because they stuck to what they knew their brand was and just kept building in and innovating on their brand and who they wanted it to be. Ford, at the beginning of Ford cars, never said, “we want to be the biggest luxury vehicle brand out there.” So by understanding what your brand is at its core, it means you follow that line and stick to that and build on that, you’re not trying to become the Mercedes-Benz because you know who you are and who you want to be at the level of Ford, and what that means to you.

Justin:
Yeah. Well, you factor in that, I mean, it’s relatively easy to throw up a website.

Jenny:
Yep.

Justin:
It’s real easy to make some content, maybe not great content, but you can post it wherever you want, on Facebook, Twitter, whatever. If you’re not disciplined enough to stick to your core, to identify your brand and who your client base is, or your customer base, competition can be very, very distracting.

Jenny:
Yeah, and I think even more so as we move ahead just on the journey, you’re going to see a transition in generations, of younger generations really caring about who you are as a brand. We’ve started to see that trend. I think we’ll see it more and more, of younger generations wanting to interact and purchase and be mindful of who they’re interacting with as brands and what those brands stand for, and what those companies stand for.

Justin:
Now, this is an interesting segue. How do you market in this age of resistance where at least a vocal percentage of the population wants to know where you stand as a company? So what are some of the thoughts that should be going through executives’ heads when they’re thinking about how to engage with the younger demographic or just that the population as a whole?

Jenny:
I think it’s the perfect opportunity, whether you are willing or not, based on what your company is or what you stand for, to make public statements about certain things. That aside, whether you would or would not about something, I think it is the perfect opportunity to take a step back though and look at who you are and your values as a company, and understand what that means to you.

The Black Lives Matter movement, you may look at it and say, let’s just take the accounting profession as a whole, not a hugely diverse profession. That is something that people want to be changed, but it is hard to make change happen overnight in that. So releasing a statement about it doesn’t necessarily do you any good, publicly, but there are things you could say, you know what? We want to start a mentorship program for high schoolers, for college students, so they understand what accounting means and what a career in accounting looks like in the world, five to 10 years from now.

So there are things and actions you can take that actually will help move the needle forward. So I think that’s where it’s important to understand who you are as a brand, what your community means to you, whether that’s local, regional, or national. As you grow, that may take different shapes in different areas. For Louisville, that means something totally different than it means from Raleigh. Taking a step back and saying, okay, where do we fit in what’s happening? Where is our alignment? Where do we want to put money forward that we may not be able to do something in policy to get something changed right away, but what can we support to help that is helping move that needle?

Understanding that at its base and then you can take the step back and say, does it make sense for us to make a comment publicly? It may not, and that’s fine. I think that is the hardest piece to understand, is that we don’t make a public comment about it, especially if you feel like a lot of people are asking for a public comment, and to say we’ve addressed it internally in XYZ ways.

I do think that may be part of people’s brand decisions. You’re going to see a lot of consumer based shift to purchasing from places that they support that are supporting the efforts that they support. You have to be mindful of that, I think, and if your product or your company lends itself to that, that you have very strong resonating feelings about a certain issue or impact, just making that be known and having that be known from the beginning of your brand is great, because then it doesn’t seem like an afterthought. Obviously for a lot of companies at this point, it’s probably, we need to take a step back and look and see where we can do some things differently and help move the needle.

But if you’re starting out as a company, it’s really easy to say, “okay, there are some bigger issues we need to talk about right up front and identify and figure out how we’re going to play and what our messaging is around some of it as well.” Not necessarily in the fact that trying to promote yourself as, “hey, we do all these great things,” but that you are supportive and this is how you’re supporting that effort, and from your internal culture. So you might not externally be screaming about an issue here or there, but if you are trying to move the needle and doing all these things, and your internal culture knows and understands and is supportive of that, they all know, those people know, and that will show outwardly. Even if you don’t say anything publicly, I think that’s why it’s okay, is because you are doing those things and your employees will call you on it if you are not. They will also share because they are probably passionate about helping that cause, whenever it is, too.

Justin:
Yeah, yeah. One of the things that’s interesting to me, and alarming at the same time, is we have no patience for seed planting. We’re addicted to posting something motivational or something on Twitter or Facebook or whatever you post on, and just watching those likes roll in, roll in. If we get 20 likes, we think we’ve accomplished something and the world is somehow a better place. If that doesn’t happen over the course of 45 minutes, then our day is ruined.

But there’s this whole notion that if a company just made small, gradual changes, I’ll call it planting seeds. Maybe a seed is an allowing some of your team members to volunteer at an afterschool program or in this day and age, maybe it’s you just read to a kid via Zoom. That just becomes the norm of the culture. Over the course of a generation of that being the norm that bears fruit and grows into something extraordinary. That’s totally still within the confines of your brand. I mean, hopefully part of your brand is to be a good corporate citizen, but it’s not necessarily within the existing marketing or public statement strategy.

Jenny:
Right, exactly.

Justin:
Generations. I love the concept of generations, and you brought this up so I feel like it’s fair game.

Jenny:
We’re going to go there.

Justin:
Marketing, you’ve got this, I call it an analog generation that’s going out, the boomers and the extras. The extras aren’t going anywhere soon but the boomers clearly are, and you’ve got the digital folks who, oftentimes it’s the digital, the younger people who are leading a lot of the creative movements. They’re the ones who know how to access. They know how to do the cool new stuff. What’s the blend? How do you do this?

Jenny:
There is no magic blend here. If your target market is your 13- to 18-year-olds, you probably have a really easy digital marketing strategy, and that’s what it is. If you are a brand that goes across a bunch of generations, that’s where you’ve got to consider all your outlets, how those outlets work, and where you’re pushing more of your money to help drive some of that.

So if you think about your boomers and that generation, yes, you want to still serve them well as customers, clients, in whatever role, capacity that is. But if you’re trying to gain traction on new customers, then you’ve got to look at the opposite side and really dive into your digital strategy and where you can play and influence. It’s very different targeting a younger, much younger generation versus somebody in your middle generations versus your older.

Justin:
That’s why I think my generation is the key. We people from the eighties, because we had an analog childhood and a digital adult hood, so we can connect.

Jenny:
Yes. I think the hardest part is the older analog generation, and trying to connect with them digitally because they don’t know how to use the tools or they’re scared of clicking because they’re afraid the world will come crashing down if they click one wrong thing.

Justin:
It might.

Jenny:
It’s scary.

Justin:
We’re on a thin trigger.

Jenny:
Right. So it’s trying to understand how you interact with them and keep them and make them feel the same way they’ve always felt as your customer, versus you’ve got the shift of people who want instant gratification and things right now in their hands. It’s a little bit of magic of just figuring out who your customer base is, who your targets are, and trying to play toward what that means to each of them.

Justin:
Any favorite marketing campaigns that you’ve witnessed over your career?

Jenny:
This is a little tough. I’ll start with one that is most recent, that I find fascinating from the marketing standpoint and just holistically from the company standpoint, but the new Nike campaign, You Can’t Stop Us, which is the new commercial that has all sports lined up side by side, different ethnicities, different generations. The amount of time and editing and the way that was put together I have such an appreciation for, as a marketing person myself.

Understanding how much time it took for them to go back and find all of that footage to make the alignments absolutely perfect in it, much less the message as a whole. I think Nike hit the nail on the head with that one, of addressing what is going on in the world from the inclusion standpoint, from their branding, it was right on brand for Nike. It did not feel out of place. The messaging was not out of place, and yet you walk away from it feeling like, I want to join you. I feel empowered to be in this fight with you—even though I play zero sports at this point in my life.

Justin:
But you can buy a lot of shoes and a lot of gear.

Jenny:
Right.

Justin:
Yeah, Nike’s always pretty cutting edge. That’s a good one. Last question: If you had 30 seconds in front of, let’s say, a group of the most influential entrepreneurs in America, what would your message to be about marketing or about whatever?

Jenny:
Take the time to understand your brand, your values, your mission, your culture, who you want your company to be in the next five years, who you want it to be in 15, 30 years. Know your competition, understand the marketing tactics that are out there that you can use and really dive deep into which ones matter most to you in your company and your aspirations, and stick to your guns. You have a passion, you have a drive, you’re building something for reason, and so it’s so important to let that be the underlying tone of your company as you move forward.

Justin:
That’s a good word. Jenny, thank you for being on the show.

Jenny:
Thank you so much, this was a pleasure.

Justin:
All right, that’s a wrap. Thanks, guys.

Your Host

Justin Hubbard
Justin HubbardAccounting & Financial Outsourcing Director

With Guest

Jenny Patterson
Jenny PattersonMarketing & Business Development Director
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