HomeBlog Three Steps Brand and Communications Leaders Can Take to Overcome Wishful Thinking Syndrome

Three Steps Brand and Communications Leaders Can Take to Overcome Wishful Thinking Syndrome

March 18, 2019 | By Julie Ogilvie

  • Many companies suffer from Wishful Thinking Syndrome (WTS) when it comes to their brand and communications programs
  • Rebalancing campaigns to place more investment in reputation programs is one important step in recovery
  • Data is the ultimate antidote – so take our benchmark survey to receive a report on how your brand and comms investment stacks up!

Wishful thinking – we’re all guilty of it at some point. We fantasize about how our life would be if we won the lottery, or how different things would be if we occupied the CEO’s office. Many b-to-b companies are guilty of wishful thinking when it comes to marketing campaigns. They imagine the glorious results their campaigns will accomplish, but they have little chance of achieving those goals because the campaigns are underfunded and under-resourced, and their brands are unknown and sometimes unloved. Rather than face reality, they pin their hopes on that elusive “viral” campaign that will carry their message around the world on a magical wave of audience love.

dandelion with seeds blowing offSpoiler alert: This ain’t happening.

Brand and communications leaders who suffer from Wishful Thinking Syndrome (WTS) often fear the reactions of their executives to their prospects for success within the confines of the allotted budget and resources, so they paint an overly rosy picture of what a given campaign will achieve in a given timeframe. This may please the C-suite in the short term, but in most cases it ends badly for marketing. (This may be one reason CMOs have the shortest tenure in the C-suite, according to a 2017 analysis from Korn Ferry.) 

Happily, there is a cure for WTS, and these three steps can start you on the path to recovery: 

  • Benchmark your brand and communications resources and investment. The primary way WTS manifests itself in brand and communications is in the expectation of magical results with little or no investment. We’re going to be on the front page of the New York Times! Millions of people will view our new corporate video! Better get some more servers online, because our website traffic is going to go through the roof! Meanwhile, the brand and communications budget has been slashed, and team members are so overworked that they’ve stopped sleeping three nights a week to get their jobs done. The antidote to this pernicious form of WTS is benchmark data. You need to help your executives understand what is actually required for success in terms of resources and budget. The good news is that SiriusDecisions is conducting its annual Brand and Communications Benchmark Survey right now, and if you participate, we will send you a digest of the results. That’s a deal.
  • Make a realistic assessment of your brand in the marketplace. Where are you today, in terms of your brand awareness, perception and preference? Unfortunately, many companies haven’t done any kind of brand survey, so they don’t have a clue what their awareness is, aided or unaided. You can remedy this issue by doing a brand survey yourself. Yes, this is possible. Listen to the webcast “Brand Surveys Without the Tears” to find out how. Secondly, begin measuring brand health in relation to the signals coming in from your own systems. Are web visitors increasing? Are you receiving the lion’s share of coverage in relevant media? Are social media followers growing? If so, great. But if you’re going in the opposite direction, or your progress has stalled, or worse of all – you have no idea what’s happening – you need to take a hard look in the mirror and get started with brand measurement.
  • Rebalance your efforts across reputation and demand programs. Many companies have shifted the vast majority of their spending into demand, because the results of those efforts are “measurable.” It’s far more difficult to measure the impact of something like brand or reputation – which builds in value over time and provides a generalized lift – than an immediate payoff in the form of a specific outcome. However, the result of over-rotating into demand and starving brand investment is that brand health inevitably declines, and this often surfaces as a gradual slip in the performance of demand programs. Companies need to take a balanced approach to reputation and demand – a topic we’ll be focusing on at this year’s Summit in the “Building Effective Reputation Programs” session.

Wishful thinking can be a lovely break from our stressful lives, but let’s face it – it’s no way to achieve success in your life or career.

Brand Surveys Without the Tears

Webcast Replay

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Julie Ogilvie

Julie Ogilvie is Service Director of Brand and Communications Strategies at SiriusDecisions. She has held a variety of leadership roles in marketing and communications in her 20+ year career, for both B2B and B2C companies. Follow her on Twitter at @julieogilvie.

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