In the not-too-distant past, traditional B2B brand marketing worked in a world without the internet, where buyers had fewer sources of information and your company could somewhat control the message. Over the last 5 to 7 years, however, buying habits have shifted and much is being written about this new Buyers’ Journey. For CEOs and your sales and marketing teams, the impact is clear. Through social media and the internet, buyers are now typically 70+% of the way through the buying cycle before they initially reach out to your company to talk with a sales representative. In traditional brand marketing your brand is the promise you make and your logo is the visual expression of your company’s position and promise. In today’s online world with its more social exchange of information, brand messaging is still important but in a very different way.
No matter if your B2B or B2C focused, brand messaging has always been about knowing where your company and products fit in the mix of competitors and market needs and being able to differentiate what you stand for and what promises you are making. These messages are shaped by how the market absorbs learning about who you are. Do it right, and the world is at your doorstep. But if you do not live up to those promises or speak in the right voice to the right audience, you fail. This is equally true in the today’s Buyers’ Journey. After all, the buyers’ need for information has not changed; what has changed is how they get that information. Through online “conversations” buyers today are looking for suggestions and information about solutions to their business needs, problems and issues they are facing. They engage in these web-based “conversations” through internet searches, social media, your website and other online forums.
As a CEO, you need to be aware that today your new brand and brand message are these “conversations.” Through smartly targeted and informative content that your marketing and product teams create and that buyers consider valuable, the buyer learns about the approaches, solutions and outcomes to the issues they are trying to solve. As a by-product of these “conversations”, the buyer is absorbing information about who you are as a company, what you stand for and the promises your company is making.
To succeed in this online social paradigm, your marketing – and your branding – must understand the information your buyers value and then deliver that information in a way that is easy for them to access and consume, at the right points in the journey and their relationship with your company. When that message and point of view aligns with their needs, and speaks in the right voice, to the right audience, at the right stage of the buyer’s journey, you create “brand conversations”. And as a result, you establish the right brand promise and thereby drive demand for your products and not just leads.
Welcome to the new branding world. Brand and brand message is more important than ever. But it is not about colors and designs, snappy tag lines and outbound communications. It is about a point of view expressed by engaging in conversations with buyers. It is information that is valuable, timely, sometimes even entertaining – white papers, videos, case studies, research, pictures and online interaction and comments. Along with your sales and marketing teams, get out and talk with your customers and prospects and have your marketing teams look around your market and adjacent markets. You can learn much on how to structure your branding conversations in today’s social media-dominated world. Do it with a sense of urgency; the new Buyers’ Journey is real and impacting you now, whether you realize it or not.