Today, branding and marketing challenges for B2B companies is ever changing. Putting customers first, and understanding the B2B customer journey are more crucial than ever before. The customer journey should be considered the key unifying principle designed to align individual departments and marketing teams.
A Favorite Client
We recently completed a rebranding initiative for a US private equity firm focused on creating significant value in troubled portfolio companies through operational and strategy improvement. This client came to the table with an impeccable track record being recognized for their success in manufacturing, industrial, B2B services, transportation, retail, and consumer products.
After 10 years of exceptional growth, the founders knew it was time to solidify their branding and marketing strategy with a clear and strategic positioning approach. Enter: my partner, a seasoned strategic marketing expert with a track-record of unprecedented results.
Upon our initial interview of the team and their respective customers, we quickly grasped the secret sauce behind the success of this company— their disciplined investment strategy and empowerment model they implement with their portfolio companies.
However, developing and maintaining a consistent brand voice for a sophisticated investment company in the digital age is not as easy as one might think. While customers swap out devices and surf across channels without even thinking about it, most businesses are stuck in silo functions:
“The sales team is creating collateral materials for trade shows, while the customer service team manages the social media, and the marketing agency is busy creating ads for an upcoming campaign…” — An existing client
Even with close collaboration, for any company developing a fully integrated marketing presence is challenging often due to separate performance incentives coupled with no clear accountability. Therefore, efforts often lead to uncoordinated execution, frustrating customer experiences and unfulfilled growth.
In assisting this client with the strategy and creation of their rebranding needs in addition to developing other strategic marketing plans, I have found the following two steps to be essential to creating a strong brand or enhancing a re-brand which is designed to be consistent across channels:
#1 Truly Understand Customer-Centric Strategies
Traditionally, highly successful companies in the B2B arena often have the distinguished service characteristic of offering quality products and superior services, and/or being the lowest-cost producer. However, these advantages have rapidly dissipated from vastly increasing competition in almost every industry.
Companies winning in today’s market truly understand their customers – their needs and demands, and have developed their brand to focus on meeting those needs and succinctly explain how they differentiate from competitors.
#2 Understanding the Customer Journeys, and NOT Just Touch Points
While the B2B customer journeys include similar stages as the B2C customer journey, it is intrinsically different.
- Sophisticated Journeys Involve More Decision-Makers: In a B2B setting, a sales process can require decisions from 15 to 20 people, just to make the transaction happen.
- Shortened Repurchasing Cycle Rooted in Deep Relationships: Unlike most B2C relationships that are created on a transactional basis, B2B relationships are often long-term with recurring sales.
- Customization More Common in B2B than B2C: Most deals in the B2B industries are customized for each client. Therefore, redesigning the customer experience is required and is based on a deep understanding to meet customers’ special requirements.
- High Stakes in B2B Deals: For B2C, it is more a numbers game, while individual customer relationships are easily worth millions of dollars for big B2B companies.
If you are able to apply some of these insights, carefully analyze complex customer relationships, and transform the B2B customer journey to manage variability, you will have a greater chance in creating an effective branding and marketing strategies that translates to tangible business results.