Ahh, brand. You want a strong brand, right? A strong brand opens doors for sales. It puts your company on the short list.
The Problem: Advertising will not create this brand. Not today. Not in B2B.
You are selling an experience good. Before someone buys (and even for a period of time after), whether they are choosing an advertising agency or an ERP solution, they do not know the value. They have not worked with you yet, they have not used your product. No demo, trial or consultative sales process can change this.
- Your prospect is doing their own research. Google is the gateway to editorial, blogs and content published by you and your competitors. More information is available every day and this information quickly overturns conflicting impressions created by advertising. This information is far more influential than the advertising message within your direct control.
- Your buyer is finding you. Yes, being the first brand that comes to mind in the category will help them find you. But buyers do their homework and discover potential providers. When your solution is discovered, what do they discover about it first? You need to create a positive discover.
- Your future customer is connecting with your current customers. Customers that have experienced your product are the ultimate reference. They have used it, can validate assumptions and provide insight into its value. Due to the rise of social media and user generated content, prospects can connect directly with customers, bypassing your careful selection of reference clients. Site like ITToolbox.com and Spiceworks.com have extensive forum discussions about actual product usage and experience with providers.
These impressions of your brand are far more powerful than a traditional advertising campaign and they happen before your prospect ever connects with sales.
Advertising isn’t the answer to your brand dilemmas. Instead, focus on influencing these far more powerful drivers of your brand perception.