Making a sale, especially a high-ticket sale, makes everybody feel good. It’s a tangible event. There is a sense of accomplishment. It’s measurable. And it makes growth possible. Selling product keeps people employed and coffers filled, which drives up stock value and keeps shareholders happy. Everything we do as an agency is oriented toward driving more sales.
On the other hand, many organizations perceive branding and marketing as a necessary evil, a drain on resources that could be driven into the sales process so the organization can win the numbers game. The thinking is, “If we just put enough boots on the ground and make enough calls and send enough direct mail, eventually the numbers will be in our favor and we will win.”
On the other side of the fence, the pressure for B2B buyers to spend has never been greater. The risk associated with buying is extremely high and consequences around making a wrong decision can now include irreversible career damage or even a permanent change in job status.
To overcome all of this, brands have to prove that they’re the best (and safest) choice, on multiple levels. The best quality. The best customer care. The best consumer experience. And the best community of fellow owners (a need for association that is much more important than you might think!)
If you’ve read any of our other posts, you know we’re fans of well-crafted brand experiences and have called out brands such Virgin Atlantic, Apple, BMW as those we see getting it right.
I also realize that for most of you these may feel like “out of reach” experiences and so your reaction is, “Well of course they have a good experience, but we’re not Apple (or Virgin or BMW for that matter). How are we supposed to compete with that?” The great news is, your brand isn’t competing with them. It’s competing with itself.
With some effort, any company can engineer great experiences around their offerings.
But well-crafted brands are especially well-suited for this because much of what makes them special is centered around “why” they do what they do.
“What” they do and “how” they do it are already so integral to the why, that great products are a given and with half a chance, great experiences flow out pretty naturally.
Marketing’s job is to understand all this, create a strategic story from it, and then present that story to the marketplace as gospel.
The job of the brand experience is to bring that story to life in a way that, hopefully, gets to your prospective customer and engages him, perhaps even before your sales force even knows he exists. And once sales does become aware of his interest, a good case for the sale has already been made. In a perfect world, all that would be left is the in-person visits and the paperwork.
It’s okay to start small. The important thing is to start shaping that experience as soon as possible. When someone shows interest, learn more about them. If they request something, treat them as if they’ve been a customer for years.
And when they buy, treat them as though they will be with you for life. Because when marketing is done right, it’s more likely they will buy from you and stay with you through thick and thin and for many years to come.
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