Building your b2b brand through online interactivity

B2b buyers are spending more and more time online today, finding out what they need to know about your brand and what you can offer them. So it’s important that you engineer all of your brand’s online activities (whether web site, landing pages, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to ensure each contact point delivers interactivity.

There are some overriding principles of interactivity that you can and must understand in order to build your online brand presence. This interactivity is not about navigation per se, or the ability to select from a menu, watch a video clip, be thrilled by a unique animation, find your way through rollovers or simply read curated content. It’s about empowering your customers and prospects to explore around and through your brand.

In fact, the secret to brand communications on the Internet is your ability to present your brand in such a way that customers and prospects can interact with your key messages and with each other.

That interaction creates brand experience. Here are 5 principles of online interactivity that you should always keep in mind:

Principle one: Help people be better

Ask what enabling or empowering interactive tools you can provide to help users serve their own self-interest better. Of course, you have to listen to them to know what their self-interest is and understand their point of view. Find out from them what kinds of information they want and what online mediums they use to find it. Think widget, live chat, blogs, etc.

Principle two: Give users control

Forget all the rules you were taught about controlling information and its delivery. Those days are over. Technology has given prospects the power to look at whatever they want to look at whenever they want to look at it. And they are looking in multiple places. You need to be there and participate, but not controlling.

Principle three: Get out of their way

If you want to play in this online arena, you have to help your customers do what they want to do. That means two things. First, you’ll have to engineer easy usability and user freedom into your interactive architecture and design — through search, a logical hierarchy and abundant links. And second, you’ll need to create places within that architecture where your prospects will bump into your customer brand advocates. Think user groups, online communities. And just simply get out of the while they find what they want and facilitate interaction that breeds more community involvement.

Principle four: Deliver hands-on involvement

When you put it all together, true interactivity focuses on some pretty pragmatic factors. Deliver these things interactively in real time to you customers and prospects and you’ll develop an empowering, interactive relationship with them that naturally leads to connections between your prospects and your brand advocates.

Principle five: Enter the market conversation

Right now, on discussion forums, rogue websites and industry special interest groups and through social media, your customers and prospects are talking about your company, your competitors, what makes them angry and what makes them buy.

The best thing is, they want you to participate. They want you to respond to their questions, to their opinions and to their advice. They want you to get involved directly and they want the third party views of your customers. Marketing used to be about you telling a story. Now it’s more about getting others to tell your story for you.

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