Are You Experienced?
Does your marketing and brand strategy give your customers the opportunity to get to grips with your brand? To really touch and feel what it is you have to offer and how that makes you stand out from the crowd. For B2B marketers, are you boxing yourself in and limiting yourself by only seeing brand experience as the same old trade shows you attend every year? Is all the money you spend on your plush trade show sofa and gourmet coffee even worth the investment? Or could your marketing be more effective by creating brand experiences that tell the world your story?
A recent research report published by E-Consultancyhighlighted that 80% of B2B buying decisions are based on the buyer’s direct or indirect customer experience and only 20% on price or product offering.
What this means for B2B marketers is that it is the experiences you are providing your customers and clients that are selling your products or services, not your messages. No matter how strong your messaging is (and this is still important!) if this isn’t underpinned by positive brand and customer experiences your entire marketing campaign is being undermined. In such competitive and dynamic markets, B2B marketing managers have to look through the customer’s lens for a deeper understanding of their needs and interests in order to create exactly the type of relevant and unique B2B brand experiences that the strongest B2B brands create.
Storytelling is just as important to B2B marketers as it is to our B2C cousins and brand experience is key to this. I recently read a paper published on Science Direct which brought together all the latest academic thinking on brand experience and ‘storytelling’ is a phrase that pops up a lot. This is because stories generate an emotional response and can create a positive feeling in customers’ minds. A good story is more convincing than a list of facts as they appeal to emotions and dreams. Stories create genuine interest in people and they are always more likely to remember a good story than a cold hard fact. So telling your brand’s story is a fundamental of creating a successful brand experience. This is by no means a no concept but many B2B companies shy away from it or have trouble breaking away from technical features and function-speak.
So what are our top tips for B2B marketers for creating a compelling and engaging brand experience?
- Make it relevant to you and your customer. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Some of the best B2B brand experiences don’t have to be glamorous affairs, they can happen on the shop floor just as much (if not more so) than in the boardroom or a fancy exhibition hall somewhere.
- Tell your brand’s story. As mentioned above, good storytelling is central to creating a strong brand experience. If you are launching a new product, take your customers on the product development journey. If you are proud of your company’s history or heritage, show them where you have come from.
- Use all the tools you have available. Some of the most innovative brand experiences out there are digital. Live streaming, is one such example of how B2B brands are giving a wider audience a positive experience of their brand. Not all your clients and customers can visit your factory, attend your seminar, or come along to your latest product launch. But they can still be there online.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new. New technology like Chatbots (link to recent blog) are another valuable tool in creating positive brand experience in new and unique ways. The technology has moved on, and your customers are now much more comfortable engaging with them. In markets such as the B2B market in China, digital tools, like chatbots, are fast becoming the norm.
- Content is still king! The content you are creating, and its quality, is going to play a huge role in creating a positive brand experience. And don’t forget storytelling. Pushing out product specs and how they stack up against your competitors might add value but it’s not going to leave a lasting impression on your customer like a well-crafted video, or a shareable H5 WeChat programme, will.
- Help your team help you. Once you have created the content, make sure you are empowering everyone in your organization to get it out there! Tools like Showpad are fantastic for making sure that staff in the field have the latest content and marketing tools at their fingertips.
The thing to take from all of the above is that when it comes to B2B brand experience, think broadly, include digital, and think about which part of your company has the best stories to tell.