Are you a company with $10MM to $1B in revenue? Do you have ambitious growth plans? If so, here’s why and where you should invest in strategic branding and marketing.
Where are the big guys spending?
A Middle Market white paper, by GE and The Ohio State University, found that an elite group of middle market companies (9 percent) achieved double-digit growth post-recession (2011). Nearly half of these middle market stars identify their marketing and communications capabilities as leading in their industry. About the same number say they will continue to invest in marketing and sales. In comparison, only 28 percent of the remaining middle market companies say they have leading marketing and communication capabilities, and only 35 percent plan to invest further.
Strategic marketing for middle market companies: Two foundational ways to elevate your game
1. Positioning Products and Services: A focused value proposition
Having grown to a substantial size, middle market companies often find themselves with a long list of products or services spread across many markets. In fact, according to the latest Middle Market Indicator survey of over 1,000 CEOs, CFOs and other C-suite members of middle market firms, the two most common methods of business expansion in 2016 were:
Executives say they plan to use these business expansion methods again in 2017 with 42 percent expecting to introduce a new product or service and 41 percent planning to expand into a new domestic market.
“When middle market companies omit to develop a product and market positioning strategy, they end up touting generic messages around excellent service and expertise, ones their competition also employ,” says Shantini Munthree, managing partner of The Union Marketing Group, a strategic brand consultancy based in Philadelphia, “It’s helpful to bring in a marketing strategist who is able to sort through the product and service offers, find themes and map them to markets.”
This clarity is a key step to defining a compelling, competitive value proposition.
2. Brand Refreshes: A compelling, competitive message and identity
Middle market companies are responsible for a third of US jobs and, in 2016, had accelerating employment growth over every quarter to reach 5.4 percent in Q4. With a growing workforce, middle market leaders look for more structured ways of motivating a team and keeping a company culture intact.
Mergers and acquisitions also present challenges to keeping a unified company culture. One in four middle market companies are planning M&A activity this year. More than one in three (35 percent) of the larger middle market firms ($100M - $1B in revenue) plan to make an acquisition in the next 12 months to expand their business.
A brand refresh strategy can help executives motivate a team around an energizing message and serve up a visual beacon of where the company is headed. A brand strategist will typically facilitate workshops to drive executive consensus of what the brand message should be, taking care to find appeal across both internal and external audiences.
A brand strategist will also tightly define the parameters of a visual brand identity to support that brand message. “Visual communication is a curated shortcut to your brand and its promise,” says Munthree. She advises middle market companies to take a leaf from the book of large company peers and invest upfront in a brand positioning strategy. “Doing this before engaging logo or website designers will help companies avoid costly mistakes that compromise your brand’s reputation,” she says.
@smunthree | The Union Marketing Group | www.theunionmarketing.com
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