How Do Your Clients and Prospects Get You and Get to You Through Your Brand Promise?
Do you honestly know how many competitors you really have? How many companies are direct competitors? How many other companies are there that provide different products and services, but are chasing the same decision makers as you?
Many B2B companies compete for attention in a very specific marketplace. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of small to medium manufacturing companies chasing the same OEMs in the medical device, military, aerospace, automotive, and other markets.
A Google search for any type of service or product will result in thousands—and sometimes millions—of results. If a client or potential client lands on your website home page, will he or she recognize your brand distinction from the other companies being evaluated during the buying journey? And how well will that buyer connect with your brand message; will he or she get your brand promise?>
The Buyer’s Journey, Inbound Marketing, and Brand Promise
According to Acuity Group’s annual State of B2B Procurement study, 94% of B2B buyers will research online for a supplier. The buyer’s journey starts with the awareness of pain points or problems. The search begins for possible solutions to a specific problem, which points the buyer to companies that might have a solution to that problem. With all information in hand (and remember—this buyer came searching for solutions you can provide, so you need ensure this info is out there to be found), the buyer will whittle down a vendor list and likely become a hot prospect for a small handful of companies. Ultimately, though, the buyer will make his final choice and become one company's customer. Your info needs to be available for the buyers when they first hit the funnel. And make sure they get your brand essence—all that you deliver in products, services, and promise.
Be There Even When You Can’t Be
When considering the buyer’s journey, if your company has a solid inbound marketing strategy, a potential buyer will at least visit your website once during the awareness phase, but at some point in his buyer’s journey he will reach the point of evaluating potential suppliers and make a decision on who to call. Through a vigorous brand development process, have you created a distinct brand essence, clear brand message, and reliable (and deliverable) brand promise to ensure that your company makes the consideration stage—and most desirably—gets contacted?
It’s vital that you’ve made your mark here, because today’s consumer, on average, does 60% of their due diligence online prior to selecting a vendor and can be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% down the funnel before they contact you. Forrester blogger, Lori Wizdo, who provided that last stat (from 2012) also says, “Today’s buyers control their journey through the buying cycle much more than today’s vendors control the selling cycle.” Translation: the old way of nurturing prospects now depends on the new way to market to them.
Are you in control of your selling cycle? Can buyers find you without you having to search for them? They should be able to. The beauty of inbound marketing is that you can guide buyers down your funnel in elegant and nurturing ways without having to manually control every twist and turn. But it does require an initial investment of creating the right messaging, which includes information and availability of all your products and services—and all of it needs to be “packaged” within and conforming to your overarching brand message.
Your mission is to: generate awareness>>share solutions>>build trust>>create customers. Is your brand message and all it encompasses strong enough to do that?
If not, maybe it’s time for a brand audit. Brand audit considerations:
- What is the key message that separates your company from the competition?
- When’s the last time you (or have you ever) scheduled an internal focus group with key internal stakeholders to review and discuss your company’s history, products, markets, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities?
- How often do you evaluate existing messages on your website and collateral materials? Are updates consistent in message and design with older posts, pages, and documents?
- Are you consistently conducting surveys with your current clients about your brand promise and distinction, products, and service delivery?
- When did you last (if ever) explore your brand messaging through a comprehensive brand development process?
Is your marketing in step with your selling cycle—can it keep pace with this ever-evolving buyers’ journey? You may have to implement or update your inbound marketing so you are considered at all stages of the buyers’ journey.
- Do you have enough content on your website to help clients and prospects find solutions to their problems?
- Do they see your company as a thought leader in your industry?
- Are you driving your brand distinction by offering white papers and case studies?
- Are you driving attention to your company through blogs, social media, and email marketing?
Grant Marketing has been engaged in B2B brand consulting for more than 25 years and we understand the brand strategy playing field. In shifting markets and marketing practices, creating and maintaining congruent brand messaging requires diligent brand strategies discovered through a thorough brand development process. It’s another “to do” to add to the list—but it should be at the top of that list.
Take a quick self-evaluation with our Brand Report Card and see how your company’s brand holds up to the shifting sands of today’s buyer’s journey.