Your sales are down and your marketing isn't performing well. You might be implementing a lot of marketing tactics, but sales are dipping every month. You could do a blog—but good luck competing with the estimated 260,000 other blogs. You could beef up your digital advertising, but these days most people use ad-blocking technology. You could try to grow your fan base on Facebook. However, for every 100,000 Facebook fans, only 130 will click on an organic post. As blogger Derek Gillette puts it, you have a case of "your brand fell and it can't get up."

What do you do when your brand hits a slump? Promotional Consultant Today shares these tried-and-true steps outlined by Gillette:

1. It's time to finally understand your brand is the competitive advantage no one can ever steal. Your brand, when done right, can be iconic, will evoke emotions, and develops enduring loyalty. In short, brand equals lasting impact. If your brand strategy is working, your word of mouth referrals will go up. It's true, brand is more than referrals, but referrals are a natural byproduct which makes them a great barometer by which to measure the success of your brand strategy.

2. Word-of-mouth referrals are worth more than paid advertising leads. I can't tell you how many companies I've come across that refuse to put significant marketing dollars towards growing word-of-mouth referrals. Sure, they aren't trackable like digital marketing, and the ROI reporting may be sketchy as best, but in an article in Forbes, Kyle Wong tells why they are worth it, despite the ambiguity: "According to a McKinsey Study, marketing-inspired word-of-mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and these customers have a 37-percent higher retention rate."

In fact, depending on how expensive your product is, word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.

Unfortunately, there's a significant gap between most brands and a solid word-of-mouth referral stream. It's a gap that can only be filled by one thing: raving fans.

How do you go about creating raving fans? A comment taken from the McKinsey study puts it this way, "Consumers rarely complain about or praise a company when they receive what they expect." In other words, the single best way to create raving fans is by doing something unexpected.

3. Grow a fan base by finally doing something that's not scalable. In today's technology-obsessed economy, what's more unexpected than doing something that's not scalable? Exactly what that "not scalable" thing is will be unique to your company. Spend time as a leadership team, or with your branding agency, figuring out what will wow your customers the most. Then do it.

By focusing on strong word-of-mouth referrals, your brand will stand above the competition.

Source: Derek Gillette is a content strategist who believes in the power of brand. He currently serves as communications manager for mission-based technology start-ups Pushpay and eChurchGiving.