The simple truth is that in this buyer-driven and controlled b2b marketing world, the customer/prospect is omnipotent and the Brand merely a means to an end for them. The b2b brand must exude value for them to even be considered in the purchase process.
B2B brands must expertly expose themselves
Thus, the Brand must reach out and do all the work to make itself appealing to the buyer and decision makers. All customer and prospect messages are brand messages. All offers are brand offers. All buyer contact with your products, services, company and its employees are brand contacts. All media used in your b2b marketing communications are brand media. None of this can be disconnected. Each b2b brand contact point either resonates with value or they’re like thick, crunchy peanut butter sandwiches served to loose-dentured residents in a nursing home.
All b2b brand communications play a role in the journey of discovery and enlightenment your customers and prospects take with your brand – a journey that ultimately is centered on the perceived value that your brand delivers. Everything is linked together as part of a continuing brand experience that we, as marketers can plan, affect and measure.
Each brand communication or brand contact contributes to the perceptions and associations of value that customers and prospects assemble and store in their heads about your brand. To them, what’s in their heads is what they believe about your brand. And even more importantly, that is what they actually drives their purchase of your brand.
So where’s the opportunity for smart b2b marketers, you ask?
First, it’s found in understanding what attributes your customers and prospects value both functionally and emotionally when considering a purchase of your category of products or services.
Secondly, it’s figuring out which of those valued attributes your brand “owns” and which ones are “open” for your brand to own.
Third, it’s building or bundling those valued attributes into your brand to differentiate you from your competitors.
Fourth, it’s about engaging customers and prospects in dialogue on their terms (ie. different media channels) around those valued and differentiating attributes.
Finally, actually delivering the promised value will make customers happy about giving you their money. And hopefully, if the brand value is realized, keep them coming back with even more money for your brand.
And that’s the simple truth behind b2b branding – though it’s truly easier said than done.
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