A year ago we were talking about information overload – brand fragmentation. Today, we are talking about information immunity. Consumers and companies alike now possess immunity to many messages, tactics, tricks and techniques that they once gladly surrendered to in pursuit of whatever experience the product promised to deliver.
How did this inoculation happen? In this month’s eTip, we interviewed Shane Lashley, MBA, M.Mgt., CEO and Co-Founder of IP Launch, Inc., an intellectual asset management company in Dallas, Texas to discuss why it is crucial that companies evaluate their messaging in this current economic recession.
BMC: How does messaging change valuation?
Lashley: It has been said that you are what you eat. Well, in corporate terms you are valued by your message. It is not the message you craft, but the message that resonates and evokes actions on the street. If your message doesn’t resonate in a way that gets results, your relevance erodes at lightning speed.
Valuations based upon future cash flows are more suspect than ever today. The main reason has everything to do with whether the buyers will care about the message associated with your products. If that message is rejected, much of the valuation can virtually be thrown out the window.
The message your valuation must send is this: the message attached to your products is a message that will cause people to act during times of duress, fear, isolation and survival.
Lashley: Two words: Social Media. Social Media may be thought of as direct access. It is direct access to your customers, potential customers and your customer’s customers. Customers now frequent social media platforms for practically every industry and in every major geographic market, domestic and international. The benefits of social media to a company are many, but I will offer a couple of my favorites:
1) You can test your message and get instant feedback very inexpensively, then tweak until it resonates best – and by that I mean until you evoke the desired action, whether it be dialogue with customers, feedback on new ideas, new sales or customer retention.
2) Social media is also referred to as the “Trust Economy.” It is not an exaggeration. Whatever your message or brand promise is today, it needs a massive dose of “trust” attached to it. No environment today offers companies a way to create more trust faster than social media. Trust leads to purchases. Purchases become patterns. Patterns prove the message resonates even when the buyer is under distress. Purchasing patterns drive revenue. Revenue drives valuation.
Lashley: 1) Find the social media platforms where your customers hang out. At IP Launch, one of our strengths is that we serve really small companies as well as big companies with large portfolios of innovation. Those customers don’t hang out in the same place. Our favorite social media platform for the large companies is LinkedIn, but you have to use it as a communication platform and not as a virtual business card holder.
For example, I import my blog posts to my LinkedIn profile page and use the Group Discussion features to hold several discussions at a time with different types of customers. We are identifying people all over the world we can reach out to for the purpose of multiplying our marketing efforts at the higher levels of well-established companies. Perhaps even more important, we are finding solutions for our existing clients through the relationships initiated on social media platforms.
2) Rethink your message and its collateral material. Social media is multi-media. We started with re-purposing our most resonating graphics in the new platform locations. We then experimented with casual video, because our part of our value-proposition relates to being approachable and practical – not heady or theoretical. We are now preparing a new suite of videos to appear on our blog, our corporate website and specific digital marketing collateral.
3) Become a person to your customer. People are afraid. They need other people, not institutions. Our profession is known for being a bit stuffy. We decided to take extra steps towards coming out from behind the desk and showing our real side more publicly. I’m on Twitter and tweet several times a day. My profile photos don’t involve a suit and tie. My partner and I created a blog where we interact with people in a more conversational tone – much like over dinner, rather than a PowerPoint presentation.
Lashley: Your message is your revenue, now more than ever. Technologies available to you make it possible for you to test and get instant feedback. The feedback makes investing in your message a more precise investment now more than any other time in the recent past. Finally, the cost of connecting with your customers and potential customers is a fraction of conventional approaches, but it does require a time commitment. Interestingly, it is time with people – your customers, their customers and so on – which probably makes this one of the best investments you can make in any economic climate.
Shane Lashley, MBA, M.Mgt. is CEO and Co-Founder of IP Launch, Inc., an intellectual asset management company in Dallas, Texas. He provides business and intellectual property valuation, intellectual property monetization strategy and intellectual property transaction services to clients ranging from small businesses to the Fortune 500, and across many industries around the world.