Be original

Word up

Original: /əˈrɪdʒɪn(ə)l,ɒ-/


  1. Present or existing from the beginning; first or earliest
  2. Created personally by a particular artist, writer, musician, etc.; not a copy
  3. Not dependent on other people’s ideas; inventive or novel

Shiny happy people

One of the traits that characterises all good marketeers is the willingness to look for new and better ways of marketing. Which is helpful, since our primary function is to help our employer sell more of whatever it is they produce.

The inevitable downside, however, is we become easily distracted by anything new & shiny – particularly the latest fad in marketing. Account based marketing. Content marketing. Corporate narrative. Digital marketing. PESO. Sector networks. SEO. Social selling. Storytelling. Thought leadership.

All of these (and many others) have been the new kid on the block at some point. Some of them are very good. But, as with all vogues, there are problems. Everyone ends up doing the same thing & loses any competitive advantage. We lose sight of marketing’s purpose.

And we blur the lines between strategy & tactics, forgetting that whatever the new name and fad, it’s all just marketing. It’s time to go back to basics. The original & best.

Walk like an Egyptian

Some years ago I read an article that suggests the traditional sales funnel is dead in the age of digital marketing. Of course it isn’t. Whatever you think of the four stage funnel, the idea it’s no longer relevant just because a new marketing channel’s opened up is complete nonsense.

I happen to think the idea of; a, building your profile in your target markets; b, building personal relationships with target decision makers; c, bidding for (& hopefully winning) work and; d, then growing a profitable account sounds like a pretty sensible approach to building a successful business.

However, because I’m a geeky marketeer and I like shiny new things, I turn the sales funnel into a marketing pyramid and add a fifth layer at the bottom:

Why? Well, a number of reasons. First, people (non-marketeers) often seem to find it easier to think of the process as something you build, bottom-up, from a solid base. Second, it puts marketing at the start of the process, without which sales / business development will always struggle.

But most importantly, it emphasises the primacy of uncovering and articulating what it is that makes you distinctive. It doesn’t matter how many people you communicate to if what you’re communicating is the same as every one else. Get step one right and you’ll find it significantly easier to move up the levels.

My first, my last, my everything

So when we’re thinking about our marketing plans, let’s be original. Let’s go back to the start and remember what we’re here to do. Don’t copy everyone else or depend on what everyone’s telling you is the latest idea you can’t live without.

You don’t need a digital marketing strategy, content marketing strategy or SEO strategy. You need a marketing strategy. And that strategy needs to include whatever channels and tactics will work to support your firm’s strategy.

If you really want to be distinctive, be original. In every sense of the word.

Richard is Creative Director and owner of Brand Remedy and one of the pioneers of branding in professional services. His sector experience includes legal, accountancy, wealth management, financial services, real estate and public sector.