The Big 3 is a David Reid Group blog series designed to give you insight into the big issues in branding, marketing and selling. We break each topic down into 3 straight-forward points, so you can get the picture and get on with your day.
We’ve clearly identified over this B2B series the keys to growth; bringing the business’s deal-makers to the fore and investing in your brand. To complete this series we want to leave you in no doubt about how and why the development of your brand is so crucial to the expansion of your business, and how it works with deal-making to ensure success.
1. What branding is and what it is not
Branding is not a visual identity. It is not a website. It is not getting onto Facebook or sponsoring an industry event. These are all great marketing tactics, but if they’re not marketing a strong brand they’re meaningless ‘noise’ and, as a result, ineffective. The brand of your business is literally the thoughts, attitudes, emotions and actions that are evoked when people are exposed to your business through marketing and any other situation where they absorb information related to you. When you invest in your brand you’re ensuring that when people are exposed to your business, in whatever form, your brand resonates, and resonates with the right people – the decision makers and people of influence in your target market. Your deal-makers cannot do what a strong brand does because they can only influence the client when they’re in the same room as them – when they’re out of sight, they’re out of mind. The rest of the time a picture is forming in a potential client’s head about what your business is and the value you offer them. You want that to be a clear and consistent message whenever they come into contact with information about your business, both before and after your deal-maker meets with them. In fact, if you build up a strong brand that resonates with your target market, eventually clients will seek out your deal-makers because they understand, identify with and trust your brand. The stronger your brand is, the more steps a potential client has made toward you before they are exposed to a deal-maker. Not only does that mean your deal-makers don’t have to seek these prospects out, they can also concentrate on getting to know them and meet their needs rather than trying to communicate the essence of the company. You must have both branding and deal-making working together to realise the potential of your business.
2. How to grow a strong brand
Building a brand is all about research and thinking things through. You need to identify your target market, the group of businesses you want to draw your new clients from, and then you need to work to understand them. If you have the opportunity to speak directly with them – ask them what they need, what drives them. Listen to the other voices that are trying to reach them and compare it to what you want to say. Based on your offering and your research you can start to craft a brand story that will resonate with your target market. Only once you’re clear about who you are and the value you offer can you consider a strategic marketing plan to communicate this brand story. Yes, this is a lengthy process. Yes, it is a financial investment. But if you work with a marketing company that skips all these steps and immediately suggests a marketing tactic like a brochure, they’re just guessing about the best way to market your business and it will show in the results.
3. Yes, you really do need to do this
If you’re a decision-maker in a B2B business, chances are you’re action-oriented and just want to get things done; deal-making suits you because it gets quick results. Perth’s business climate has meant your business has thrived on deal-making alone, but short-term thinking is no longer enough in a changing economy – not if you want to grow. We understand it’s tempting to want a quick fix for marketing, to get your name out there, create an online presence and feel like you’re making progress. However, just like any other part of your business, if you really believe in what you have to offer, why wouldn’t you choose to do it properly? To be blunt, any money you put into tactical marketing is wasted if you don’t build a strong brand first; but any money you invest in building your brand will grow your business in the long term and make any future marketing you do effective. It takes money and time, but if you do it right the return on investment on branding for B2Bs is excellent. We don’t expect you’ll know how to achieve all of this, because the success of your business hasn’t depended on it up until now. Also, unlike revitalising your deal-making, you probably won’t have the latent internal resources you’ll need to succeed. Working with experts who are actually skilled and experienced in strategic branding development, not just tactical marketing, is critical.
So that’s it – the rest is up to you. Do you want your business to grow? The long-term comes around fast so if you start working on your brand now, you’ll see results. Combined with a new approach to deal-making, your business can reach its potential. Anything else is a marketing mirage.
Missed out on the first two posts in this business to business series? Read Part one: B2B branding, marketing and selling – setting the scene and Part two: B2B branding, marketing and selling – grow your brand, grow your business.
David Reid Group is a branding, marketing and selling agency in Perth, Western Australia.