As more potential customers go on line to research for products or services, they are more reluctant to reveal to companies who they are. In this Vlog, Grant explains the challenges.
Imagine you’re sitting at home and you turn to your partner and tell them you need to buy a new pair of trainers at the weekend.
At that point, neither Nike or Adidas (if they were going to be in your buying set) know that you’re in the market for a new pair of trainers, but today, even in the business to business world, your customers are exactly the same.
In the business to business world, it used to be the customers, or prospects, would reveal themselves to you very early on in the purchase journey. For example, before the web, if you wanted a new accountant, a law firm, a recruitment company, there was no way of finding out anything about them – the best you could do was to request information from them, which meant bringing them up and asking for a brochure and then, they knew who you were. They would normally have a business development person who they would use to try and guide you through the purchase.
Today, things have changed. With the Plethora of information online, customers are now taking themselves way down the purchase journey before they ever get in touch with you.
The way companies started to get around this is by gating content. In other words, after you’d seen one or two pieces of information, they would ask for an email address to go any further and in that way they’d know who you were. The problem today is that gated content is no longer effective.
When you’re asking someone for an email address, more often than not, they’ll click off and go somewhere else. So when a business is faced with its prospects going through most of the purchase journey on their own – and you don’t even know who they are – how do you ensure that you’re still in their buying set?
So now you need to do exactly what Nike and Adidas do.
You need to invest in brand.
In the business to business world, most companies have been sales led. It’s all about getting leads and getting sales people to go and see customers – and that makes sense. If you’re selling consultancy services, people aren’t going to buy it from a website. They want to meet someone and shake someone’s hand.
But today, in order to make sure you get into the buying set, you need to invest in brand and in the business to business world, the majority of businesses have under-invested in this element.
While relationships are obviously important, individuals are getting involved too late in the purchase journey for those relationships to guarantee you being in the mindset. That, today, is going to have to be done by brand. Of course, almost all businesses do have a logo and a name, but traditionally it’s the individuals in a company who have driven business and results. Because, that’s what branding is.
Branding is the process of taking an inanimate and indistinguishable product or service and giving it meaning. In the consumer world, think of Coke – a brown sticky liquid in a bottle doesn’t actually mean anything until you’ve branded it – and for lots of people it has an emotional connection.
In the business world, brands like IBM, Goldman Sachs, and General Electric have done the same thing. You need to do it too, just on a smaller scale.
The fact is, the world of business to business marketing, and business to consumer marketing, are getting closer together than ever before.
Who would have thought that buying a shareholder agreement is getting more and more similar to buying a pair of trainers?
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