Earlier this week, CEO Julie Lucido offered her first offering with The Elements of a Good B2B Marketing Plan, Part One. Today, she offers further insight into this critical step.
Branding and messaging: These are basic elements of the entire language of marketing. Who you are and what you have to say – everything you undertake in your B2B marketing plan will hang on these two things. Your products and services are the words to the song, and your branding is the tune. Without both working in harmony, your business can’t sing.
Developing a company brand is a subtle game, with enormous potential benefits and some scary potential dangers. Branding is important enough in all of marketing, that the some of the most famous agencies in the world are almost solely dedicated to brand development. And not just development, but protection: Think of how certain brands got ahead of bad publicity when a product failed, and what companies had to do to repair their reputation. Not a pretty situation when millions of dollars are at stake. Protecting your company’s image is important to any business, no matter how small. One bad product gets shipped, one customer writes a bad review, and it can take months or even years to erase the damage that one tiny incident has caused. (Whoever said there’s no such thing as bad publicity never heard of the BP oil spill.) But we want to talk here about the positives you can control: Consistency in your branding and messaging.
Your brand is obviously your starting point for introducing your product to the marketplace. It is also key for introducing new products, growing into new markets and actually developing new market segments. And most importantly, it is what distinguishes you from all your competitors. Being consistent with your branding and messaging should absolutely be front of mind when devising your B2B and B2C marketing plans.
There’s a saying in the marketing business, which is the branding paradox: When you get “tired” of a brand or message, that’s when you can begin to trust that the brand is really starting to work. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should annoy everyone with guys dressed as chickens on every corner hawking your product, or running infomercials all night long. (Though you could!) The takeaway here is, once you’ve established a pattern of recognition in customer’s minds, you’ve created a huge marketing tool which you can leverage. Your customers have learned the tune of your song, and now they can start to pay attention to the words, too.
This is the point where you definitely don’t want to start varying your brand message. To trust the brand and buy your products, customers have to recognize your brand in the first place; they don’t want to start feeling traces of doubt about its identity and trustworthiness. They want to like and trust your brand; it’s up to you to keep your message attractive, honest and consistent. This means your ads, your social media and other marketing should all have a similar voice, if not the identical wording. Your messaging should be basically the same across platforms, but customized for each one in terms of audience and optimization features. Customers should recognize your brand and also feel that there is a person behind it, who believes in the brand and is willing to stand behind it. These are subtleties that are worked into your messaging, supported by everything your company actually does in terms of service and products. The quality of your products and your service are a given – how you reinforce this in your message, and keep it consistent, will be the means for making your brand shine in the marketplace.
Now that you have a great brand, what do you plan to do with it?
Stay tuned for our next post that will address the third element of a good B2B marketing plan: The Importance of a Marketing Toolbox.
Have a nice weekend!