Successful B-to-B Brands Must Be Just as Rigorous as B-to-C Brands
B-to-b marketers: Do your business customers love your brand? It sounds more like a question you would ask of consumer brands. But b-to-b brands that are the most strongly positioned and communicated are “loved” because they most likely go through the same rigorous analysis that beloved consumer brands go through.
This shared rigor takes its lead from high-level brand consulting, applying strategic learning that provides the blueprint for compelling communications that move customers and consumers into the gravitational pull of the brand.
Looking ahead to the end game, successful marketers pursue brand movement — seeing where the brand is today and planning where it needs to be moved relative to the competition, to a position that takes the target rationally and emotionally closer to the brand, and of course moves the needle on business.
The homework first comprises a deep dive into the marketer’s brand and business to understand what will drive brand movement successfully.
Phase 1: Discovery
This phase is organized around a process we call the “5Cs” — a study of assets and liabilities leading to a more profound understanding of how brand and customers interact and create brand love in this interaction. This is the basis for navigating the brand to the right position, and involves submerging the marketing team in facts, figures, lore, history, messaging strengths and weaknesses, etc. These must be derived from analyzing the perspectives and viewpoints of all stakeholders in a classic audit tailored to b-to-b. Marketers need to answer the following questions around the 5Cs:
What are the business goals of the company? What are the brand’s intentions? What are the external and internal views of the brand? What are its values and purpose? How is the brand currently positioned in the market? What are its strengths and weaknesses? What is its history and lore?
In what ways do your customers think and act relative to your brand? How do you define and prioritize your customers? What is their path to a purchase decision? What attributes do they expect — and what higher-order benefits? What is your relationship with distributors? What makes them loyal to a brand — or not?
How do consumers think and act relative to your brand? Even the straight b-to-b marketer sells to a customer who eventually goes home to his family. It’s a small planet and every message is seeable and shareable by everyone. What impression should he have as a consumer of your brand? At the end of the day, your customer wants to see his brand presented in an engaging way.
What is your position relative to the competition? How do competitors impact you? What position do you want to occupy in the competitive space? How can you deposition competitors?
What are the dominant characteristics of the culture in which the brand operates? (For instance, the ethics and perspectives of millennials). There is tremendous opportunity in tying your brand to cultural movements and the spirit of the times. Cultural context cannot be ignored.