Alien Spaceship X-Files

The Truth is Out There

This month’s theme (Oilfield Pulse) is about conspiracy theories. This theme immediately got me reminiscing about the X-Files television series. It is possible, that somewhere behind all the woes we are facing as a province and industry, there is cigarette smoking man who is somehow in on it.

Or, maybe the truth is more mundane.

It could be that we still don’t have those pipelines because people don’t want them in their backyard for an abstract benefit like increased royalties going into Federal coffers. It could also be that, when times are good, we didn’t have to be all that efficient to make money. Or, it could be that we drove up the cost of labour in good times, and now with languishing oil prices, costs are still too high.

Having run a web development company for over 16 years, I do know there were times when we could not afford to hire local software developers. People who were getting paid $55K in Winnipeg could get paid $85K plus here in Calgary while good developers cost well over $100K after some local experience. At the time, oil and gas companies would gladly pay those rates to snatch them away. This single industry focus hampered diversification of the Alberta economy.

Still, it might be possible the radical environmentalists are infiltrating our governments at the highest level. It is entirely possible billionaire investors have disrupted things here so their investments elsewhere can produce bigger returns. Anything is possible, but the supporting intelligence data is way above my pay grade. I can only generate unproven theories.

Without Mystery, the Show Is Boring

The X-Files would have been just another cop show without the underlying theme of alien mystery and suspense.

And, that is how most companies brand themselves. They are rather dull.

This is what we do. This is who our senior management team is. We’ve been around for a long time. This is what we sell. We have the best people or service. Here is our catalogue.

Essentially, we are just like everyone else.

If your brand is boring, it makes it hard for your marketing to consistently deliver value. It makes it more difficult for your sales team to sell on anything but price and product.

Mulder Was Quirky

He had a distinct personality. He was a quiet, brooding, problem solver who is also a bit of a rebel and willing to work outside of the rules.

What is your brand personality?

Groupon used to write all of their special deals in a fun and humorous style. They still do for some clients, but as they grew, they lost some of that brand personality to keep costs down.

In the book “Fascinate: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist” by Sally Hogshead, she talks about the seven archetypes or languages of fascination. Her model gives brand strategists and marketers another model or set of patterns to make it easier to pinpoint and customize a strategy for your business.

For example, mystique is the language of mystery, listening, and observation. It fits very well with the conspiracy theory theme this month. It includes creating curiosity, withholding some information, asking questions before giving answers, and building the mythology.

  • You might have a secret, patent-protected technology for re-stimulating a declining well.
  • If you have an interesting founder’s story, that can be used to create some mythology through story-telling.
  • You could build a reputation as the well-whisperers because you can read them better than anyone else. Sure, you use data and proper analytics tools, but the magic comes from your people, their experience, and their intuitive ability to get consistent results.

Marketing Implements the Brand Strategy

If you use mystique or mystery in a single marketing campaign, that is more of a tactic. To get the bigger benefit of a brand strategy, it needs to be implemented consistently over time. Even when you vary from the core briefly, the underlying strategy must be present in some recognizable way. You attract clients, because you are fascinating (and useful) to them.

This is why your brand also needs to be authentic. It is very difficult to live a brand over time that is inconsistent with who you are and what you stand for.

Your overall brand message, including your value proposition and your differentiation, become embedded in everything marketing and sales does. You understand your ideal clients. You develop your personas for each of those clients. Then, you consistently talk to those personas in the voice of your brand personality.

Most small and mid-sized businesses don’t have the luxury of having full-time brand managers, so it is critical your marketing company or team understands how to wrap brand strategy into the marketing strategy and then consistently implement it.

It is also essential that you step back and look at your marketing periodically to see if it is drifting from the strategy. This drift can happen easily as you get creative to catch your market’s attention and otherwise focus on shorter-term tactics.

Over time, it is the ability to bring together strategy, innovation, creativity, measurement, and consistently following a proven process that will increase your chance of marketing and overall business success.

Originally published in the November edition of the Oilfield Pulse