"The Longest Way Is the Shortest Way" - Response Marketing Strategies

The Longest Way is the Shortest Way

My dad’s voice pierced my 9-year-old ears, “Get back here right now. What do you think you’re doing?”

Just before I heard my dad’s words, I had run out the back door to visit a kid that had moved into the neighborhood a few days earlier. A little context – I grew up in a new housing tract without fences. This meant visiting my friends could be as easy as cutting across a few backyards. When I did just that, I got the fifth degree from my dad. When I tried to explain my actions, he responded: “Then go out the front door, use the sidewalk, go around the block and then knock on their front door.”

What followed was a valuable life lesson, one that, in my view, has informed Orange Label’s approach to developing successful response marketing strategies: “There’s no shortcut to long-term value.”

That seemed a little complicated and unnecessary, so I responded, “But why?” It was then when my dad shared a bit of his Missouri wisdom that took me a few years to appreciate and embrace, he said, “In life, the longest way is the shortest way.”

My dad understood that there are no tricks, no hacks, and no shortcuts to being part of a great neighborhood. Respect for another person’s property and honoring their privacy are just two of the building blocks of being a good neighbor. More importantly, he wanted our family to be a part of an amazing neighborhood – our little slice of community. Therefore, taking the time, energy, and effort to go the long way around was one important tactic to speed-up the process of living in a great neighborhood.

In my view, creating a valuable brand is much like creating a great neighborhood – certain steps may seem a little complicated, maybe even a little uncomfortable, but, in the long-run, they are necessary. To generate response and cultivate brand value, an organization must identify the many figurative “walk around the block” strategies and put in the time and energy needed to sustain success in the long-term.

As the leading response marketing agency, Orange Label has spent the last 45 years perfecting our strategy and, while our process does take time and effort, it works. To some the four response marketing components that follow might seem unnecessary and complicated. Yet, as I learned from my dad, there are no shortcuts, the journey is rewarding and, over time, it produces lasting success.

Step 1: Diagnose

The initial step is to diagnose, this includes defining your context, purpose, goals, and objectives. At nine years old, I just saw a quick way to have fun, while my dad had done more thinking and had a better and deeper perspective of what we were up to as a family. At our agency we diagnose, using The Orange Exploration™. This ensures all key players at the client level and our response marketing experts explore eight vital areas that identify challenges, opportunities and importantly clearly identify what success is intended to look like (chances are your client will choose a meaningful, nurturing neighborhood over a few hours of fun).

Step 2: Research

The next step is to commit the resources to conduct research to assess the current circumstances, competitive landscape, relevant trends and consumer perspectives. To most nine-year-old boys, this type of critical thinking is pretty much nonexistent. As it turned out, a couple of days earlier my dad had already done his research. He had taken the time to talk to the new neighbors and one piece of insight he had (that I did not) was the new kid’s father was a policeman, so sneaking into his backyard could have created a real problem. At Orange Label, we utilize a View from the Field™ to guide our research. We have learned that nobody is better equipped to talk about the current state of your brand than your existing customers, prospects, and internal and external stakeholders. Through a variety of interviews, it is possible to discover hidden pitfalls, benefits and feelings associated with your products and services. This information provides the cornerstone for the next step.

Step 3: Messaging

To drive response from a creative standpoint, Orange Label uses the insight gained from the first two steps to create your Brand Messaging Platform. Because my dad had made the effort to get to know the new neighbors, he wanted our family to provide a great first impression; he wanted our neighbors to know us as respectful, helpful and fun. This was my dad’s brand message and he did the work with me to ensure that my behavior was consistent with his intent. At Orange Label, we believe in powerful and dynamic brand messaging that drives response.  We use the research obtained in Steps 1 and 2 to creatively capture the essence of a brand, developing a message that both embodies the client’s vision and resonates with their target market. We call the final product “The Juice,” a title, we feel, communicates the heart and soul of a brand, from its core values to its products and beyond.

Step 4: Implementation

The fourth step is the Action Plan and Marketing Execution Strategy. This is the actionable implementation plan that outlines the key initiatives and tactics to generate awareness, response, to help ensure all the marketing goals are achieved. The plan can also include timelines and budget allocations. To this day, I don’t understand how my dad instinctively knew the essence of implementation. Yet, he was consistent over the long haul. Plus, in the moment-to-moment management of our family’s “Brand Platform,” he took the time to have a two-minute, one-to-one conversation with an anxious nine-year-old to alter my actions in the moment, and to guide my behavior for a lifetime. Consistency and dedication is something we value here at Orange Label. Once we develop a strategy, we stick to it and see it through, down to the last detail.

Over the last 45 years, I have found these four sturdy and robust response marketing practices have withstood very rugged business and marketing environments. Organizations that have:

1. Fully committed to their goals and objectives

2. Engaged in the necessary work

3. Committed the time, energy and budget

These organizations have flourished. They embraced the wisdom of “walking around the block,” and have created great brands.

Our experience with many prospective clients is that they believe that all they need is a quick fix, like a better website, or a snappy ad campaign, a unique promotion or a clever SEO strategy, and then everything will immediately improve. Yet, these are usually just shortcut tactics (like cutting through my neighbor’s backyard), that ignore the fact that an integrated and coordinated response marketing program is what will create sustainable, profitable growth and customer loyalty – Remember, there is no shortcut to long-term value.

Over the years, my parent’s house became a home. The surrounding individual homes transformed into an amazing neighborhood. My dad did his part by putting the time and energy into ensuring his four kids understood the value of being a good neighbor and, looking back, it seems most every other family took the same approach. That neighborhood made a positive difference.

In June 2017, as executor of my parent’s trust, I had to sell their home (and if I am honest, in my heart, it was still my home, too). While that was a bittersweet day, the buyer, who could choose to live anywhere, chose this house because of the neighborhood, and paid the full price – the new owner is my oldest son!

My dad had a vision of being part of a great neighborhood, he did the work, he made the investment and he and my mom experienced a great neighborhood – and my dad’s vision is still alive, even though he is gone.

Your organization can experience the same outcome with your brand; your customers will pay full-price and their loyalty will be enduring if you simply embrace response marketing and believe and have faith that “the longest way is the shortest way.”

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