Obviously, Product is important, so is the right Management, efficient Sales, Customer Success and so on. But many B2B SaaS companies do not appreciate the importance of having a strong brand, as part of their Go to Market Strategy.
Imagine customers saying “We chose your solution because you are clearly the market leader, so why look anywhere else?” or “You are included in our Tender Process because your company is clearly a very important player in this sector.”
How will people know about your product? Do they hear what you want them to hear? How can you improve your brand awareness?
Giles Fraser, ScaleUp Group Member and co-Founder of the award-winning marketing agency Brands2Life talked at a recent CEO Forum about the main aspects of great brand management. This article is based on the key points raised at this event.
Simply put, ‘brand’ is a concept that helps people identify your product. In more detail, this concept is built up of layers of identifiers, at the core of which is the almighty ‘why’ aka the reason your business exists – your story, your motivation, your values.
A well-defined ‘why’ speaks to the emotions of your customers and despite their customers being businesses, B2B brands, too, can – and should – use this to their advantage in marketing and lead generation. Research data[j2] (IPA databank 1998-2018 B2B cases) suggests that a combination of emotional and rational communications strategies brings the best results in reaching and attracting prospects, emotional messaging outperforming the latter in strengthening the brand.
Dedicate sufficient leadership time to defining your ‘why’ and if appropriate, seek independent perspective/facilitation to perfect it.
Brand communications need to make it crystal clear to your target market how you are current, relevant, and different from your competitors. What are you best at in the world? Are you category-defining? Why – and how – are you unique? Why now?
Remember: value proposition (ie. the reason why customers should choose your product over others) does not equal your software. It is every element that sets you apart from your competition, whether that is the solution itself, your expertise in the field or even your exceptional customer service.
As Giles Fraser emphasised, positioning yourself as a thought leader in your field is the best way to communicate your expertise to your customers – actual or prospective. As a marketing strategy, your expert insights and educational content will help establish credibility and trust, building brand awareness and as a result should drive your lead generation, in both quantity and even more importantly, quality.
For young businesses, with limited budgets for marketing, declaring sometimes controversial opinions about say the current choices open to businesses is a valid attention-grabbing tactic, for instance.
Testimonials are one of the best ways to build trust of your future clients. A peer’s vote of confidence speaks louder to them than most other marketing tools, so you should make a conscious effort to collect and share customer reviews, even better if it is in a video format.
By providing valuable data, about why your business was chosen, such customer stories will also help empower decision making of your prospective customers. In some markets, government being an example, the ‘herd influence’ is a very strong one.
Social media channels are one of the most powerful tools in modern-day brand management, reaching far beyond traditional marketing methods[j3] and – if used well – it can empower other strategies of your business, including but not only:
– Lead generation
– Employee engagement
– Controlling messages, influencing the press
– Attracting talent
– Promoting a cause, product or opinion
– Maintaining brand awareness and recognition
Hiring a PR Agency
A question that has triggered a lively discussion at our CEO Forum was whether hiring an external PR agency is necessary and worth the additional investment over doing it in-house.
A key benefit accepted by the Forum was providing a valuable external perspective from subject matter experts, who were not being distracted by day-to-day management issues.
As with most things, there is no one size fits all, and an external agency might not fit the resources many scaleups are working with. That being said, you may still consider inviting external experts – as suggested in the previous points – to consult on specific areas of your brand management strategies to take advantage of the above perks.
Overall the initially sceptical audience did ‘get it’ that CEOs should make Brand Management an essential part of their Go to Market strategy.
Done well it should mean your business is punching above its weight, when you are often competing against larger, better established players in your market, so enhancing the likelihood of you becoming a ‘Global Champion’ which after all is ScaleUp Group’s mission for our clients!