Scaling a business usually conjures up a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario: What comes first; sales or marketing? Making a profit or building a reputation? Choosing where to invest your time and budget, or which team to build first can feel like an impossible decision. After all, the one you choose can impact not only the other but also the business strategy, operational decisions and financial decisions. So that chicken and egg has quickly become the Golden Hen or the Faberge Egg… a difficult decision indeed.
So, in order to answer the unanswerable question, there is an important distinction to be made; when is the earliest you can start? Sales do what it says on the tin; sell. It’s all about moving products, capitalising on consumer relationships and directly generating revenue. The act of selling generally requires having something to sell. So, bar the Dell-Boys and Rodneys of the World, most businesses can only begin selling when they have a product, service or asset to exchange.
Marketing, on the other hand, covers a range of activities that look to build awareness of your brand and products/services to your potential buyers. It establishes consumer relationships and focuses on communicating with your market, competitors and consumers.Marketing does not require a product or service or asset. Marketing can be a powerful tool to share a mission, an idea, a personality and other intangibles. And that is why marketing should always come first. Not just when your brand is ready to start selling, but from its inception, from day one.
The earlier a brand begins, the faster its audience can come together, and the sooner the brand can scale. However, starting from Day 1 generally means there’s no cash in the bank for big billboard displays and guerrilla marketing campaigns. But that’s okay because flashy gimmicks and big budgets aren’t needed to tell the story of a brand. Not when social media is as far-reaching and accessible as ever before.
With 128 social media platforms, and upwards of 4.7 billion users worldwide, finding your people has never been easier. From the nichest of niches to the most obvious connections, there’s something for everyone. Which is why it’s the perfect place to start building a brand community. Your brand community is your best employee and your best customer.
It all starts with authenticity. Sharing your brand’s story and progress in real-time, as it happens. Think Living, breathing website. As users scroll a brand’s feed they should be able to see the development and feel like a part of its story as it grows and develops.
It’s important to share not only the good; the wins, the awards, the new hires, and new projects. It’s also important to share the bad and the downright rubbish; the setbacks, the blunders, the mistakes and the failures. Doing so humanises the brand and further builds on that precious trust.
Content marketing and personal branding are great pillars of an online persona; little snippets of thought and company updates that show the personality and values of the brand through tone and topic; company policies and initiatives, charity partnerships and passions, community awards and competitions, all important things to talk about online.
Notice many of these things don’t involve a direct sale, a product or a service. Because they predate that – they show the audience why the brand has produced this product/service, and how they plan to change the World with it. Even when the product itself was a concept, even before it was ready to launch, even when the mission didn’t yet have a how but just a why, even from day one, the audience can get a true image of the business and the brand. They can build a community around it.
Which makes growing marketing, sales, operations and everything else down the line that little bit easier. For nothing but some time and honesty. A brilliant investment if you ask me!