When I published my recent book, The Essential Guide to Building Your Lead-to-Revenue (L2R) Machine™, I chose brand strategy as the first key component of the framework because of its extreme importance to L2R success. Building the rest of your marketing and sales initiatives on top of a weak brand is akin to building a house on a bed of sand. It may work for a while, but will have no chance of sustainable success. We find that clients who focus on the brand early in the process have a much better chance of hitting revenue targets quarter over quarter and year over year. This is why it is so essential to define your brand promise as a guidepost against which you can gauge all of your tactical activities.
Two months ago, I wrote an article titled The Economic Value of Your Company Brand. The theme of the post: No matter the size and scope of your company, the brand position you hold with your prospects and customers has monetary value in terms of sales, stock prices and even employee retention. One of the points I made in the article is that you are sometimes better off if you are starting off with a clean branding slate. The downside is that few people know about you – the upside is that you can start with a fresh and differentiated brand position.
I was a guest speaker for The Center for Business Modeling at a video/podcast on a subject near and dear to my heart: the economic value of a brand. Following is a summary of what I said on the podcast.
When people talk about a company brand, it is often expressed as sort of an abstract concept
Last week, I had the opportunity to present at a webinar titled Creating a Compelling Brand Promise. Thought I would share a couple of the highlights of this event, which was put on by my company, Fusion Marketing Partners.
We first defined the terms “brand” and “brand promise”. A Brand = the place your company occupies in a prospect’s or customer’s mind when he or she thinks about you. A Brand Promise = what you promise to deliver to your customers when they do business with you. Your job is to make your brand and brand promise the same thing.
In case you ever underestimate how important this is, here are seven things a strong brand promise can accomplish in B2B marketing:
- Explains what you do
- Articulates the “primary” customer benefit
- Establishes credibility
- Creates an emotional connection
- Invokes curiosity
- Motivates action
- Guarantees your place in heaven (just kidding on this one)
I shared some examples of what I considered weak and strong brand promises. First the weak:
Lockheed Martin: We never forget who we are working for.
UPS: What can Brown do for you?
Ernst & Young: Quality in everything we do.
Microsoft: Life without walls
Exxon: We’re Exxon (really!)
FileMaker Software: What’s Your Problem?
These companies are so large they can get away with lousy branding. But most of us don’t have this luxury. We have to do a good job of creating a value proposition that gives us competitive advantage.
Now let’s look at what I consider companies who have very strong and enduring branding promises.
Reebok: No matter what the situation, Reebok has the sneakers, apparel and gear to fit your needs.
GE: We bring good things to life.
Campbell’s Soup: Nourishing people’s lives everywhere, every day.
FedEx: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.
Home Depot: You can do it, we can help
O’Douls : What beer drinkers drink when they’re not drinking beer.
BMW: The ultimate driving machine
I’m sure you can come up with your own list of good and bad brand statements. But the most important thing you can do is to make sure you have a compelling and differentiated brand. If you want to listen to the replay of our webinar, you can find it here. There are several other events coming up about B2B Marketing so feel free to join us.
The Pareto Principle as Applied to B2B Marketing
According to our friends at Wikipedia, the Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule and the law of the vital few) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Pareto observed that 80% of the peas in his garden came from 20% of the pods, and he went on to apply this formula to many other areas, including some that have more relevance to us B2B marketers. This caused me to ponder on the importance of understanding which 20% of the causes in B2B marketing and sales are responsible for 80% of the effects – or in marketing, the results.
To accomplish this, our team at Fusion Marketing Partners identified the major functions of a B2B marketing department and came up with 20. The next step was to rank these 20 functions in terms of their impact on results and finally, to ascertain whether the top four (20 percent) can influence 80% of the results? The last question is particularly tough to answer because, like it or not, there are parts of marketing that defy quantification (e.g. public relations, social media), even if you know they have a positive contribution.
The result of this effort is the Four Pillars of Unstoppable Marketing. We believe, and have shown through client results, that if you spend the majority of your time on these four important areas, you will receive much better results than an equivalent amount of time spent in all the other 16 areas. So (drum roll please….) the four areas of focus are:
- Pillar One: Compelling Brand Promise
- Pillar Two: Informative & Engaging Website
- Pillar Three: Effective Pull Marketing Strategy
- Pillar Four: Optimized Marketing and Sales Model
I will have much more to say about each of these pillars in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can listen to a six-minute overview of the four pillars at:
Technocrati reference: 69TVTWH9Y9SM
In my book, articles and presentations, I often talk about the importance of a specific, compelling and differentiated Brand Promise to achieve success in B2B marketing and sales. And although it is a B2C example, I think the following illustrates the point perfectly.