You know what I don’t like about fruit? It’s always a roll of the dice.
Sometimes, there’s a tasty, delicious treat in store. But just as often, and through no fault of your own, it’s nothing but heartache.
You take a bite out of a glowing pear, and it’s like chewing on a bar of soap. You cut into a beautiful apple, and half the inside is brown and mealy. And don’t even get me started on those deceitful bananas, whose shiny, smiling, bruise-hiding skins make them the Bernard Madoffs of the produce world.
No, my friends, fruit is a cunning foodstuff.
Ice cream, on the other hand, wouldn’t dream of hiding a surprise. From the first bite through the last, from any angle or depth, each spoonful tastes exactly the same as the one before and the one after. With ice cream, you know what you’re getting into from the very start.
When it comes to developing an E-Newsletter – or marketing an entire business, for that matter – ice cream is what you want to be.
Ice cream marketing (also known as “brand consistency”) means that no matter how, where or why I interact with you or your company, it always feels the same. Whether that’s your web site, newsletter, business card, invoices, proposals, holiday cards, office or you, there’s one flavor, from start to finish.
Why so important? Two reasons.
- First, because it helps people pigeon-hole you. I know, that’s supposed to be a bad thing. And maybe in some situations, it is. In marketing, however, it’s exactly what you want.
You want people to “get” who you are, how you think and what you stand for. If the answer – or even just the tone – is different with every situation or channel, it will never happen; they’ll be confused about what you offer, how you work and what they can expect.
And in my experience, confused prospects don’t bother trying to sort you out… they just move on to the next available option.
- Second, because it’s a lot easier. Brand consistency requires some attention, no doubt about it. But it’s not hard work. Hard work is trying to be different things to different people in different situations.
When who you are in public, whether as an individual or a company, reflects who you are behind the closed doors of your office or walking the aisles of the supermarket on the weekend, you’ll feel the freedom and ease of no longer pretending.
With me so far? Here’s how to shift from fruit to ice cream:
- Figure out what you’re all about (sounds like a Barney song). Get together with your colleagues and pinpoint your voice, tone and level of formality. If you had a celebrity spokesperson, who would it be? If your company were a musical group, what kind of music would you play and what would you be called? Get a handle on your company personality.
- Review all your stuff. From your web site design and copy, to the tone of your invoices, to the way you answer the phone, step back and try to look at yourself as the world sees you. One helpful exercise in this regard is to print everything you’ve got and lay it out on a big table. See which things match up with #1 above and which need some work.
- Make changes. Rewrite, redesign and rework as necessary, always with the goal of creating one authentic, consistent picture for the outside world to see. Align the pieces and you’ll come into focus.
Here’s the bottom line. I know how tempting it is to try and be all things to all people. It seems logical that the more ground you can cover, and the more you can shape yourself to match the prospect or project needs of the moment, the more business you’ll have. It seems logical, it just doesn’t work.
Instead, I recommend focusing your energy on displaying a you that looks, feels and sounds the same, no matter how deep I look or in which situation we meet. Become a consistent, specific, pigeon-holeable professional. As predictable as a cool dish of ice cream on a hot summer day.