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Brand & Marketing Updates

Creating New Markets and Barriers to Entry

Harvard’s Clayton Christensen is famed for several concepts in business such as disruptive innovation, Jobs to be Done, and organizing firm cultures around Resources, Processes, and Priorities. But one contribution of his has been broadly neglected, even if the seminal 2001 article which produced it also made popular the phrase “skate to where the puck will be.” It’s the concept of how cycles of business ecosystem integration and modularity spawn new market opportunities.

Christensen, who was my mentor for several years, chronicled how industries typically begin with one player integrating a full solution, so that the pioneer reduces dependency on unmotivated or poorly-suited partners and so that it can tightly control the interplay of complex components. Only then is the solution good enough for customer adoption. Over time, this value chain fragments. Specialists with focused capabilities and efficiencies come to rule particular aspects of an industry. Christensen showed how this occurred in computing, for example, where the industry began with behemoths like IBM producing its own processors, memory, operating system, and much else, only for companies like Intel, Micron, and Microsoft to specialize later on. This process also occurs in less technical fields too.

The implication is that market pioneers need to create full solutions for customers around the parts of their offering that are truly new and distinctive – IBM didn’t need to make its own cardboard boxes, for instance. Moreover, the pioneers often need to be deeply involved in selling the new proposition and ensuring that customers use it well, chronicling their success to then inspire more mass adoption. There may be partners involved at some links of the value chain, such as finding initial customers, but the firm originating the big innovation needs to remain deeply involved throughout the sales cycle.

In my book Capturing New Markets, I’ve called these sales strategies “country roads.” They can be winding and lonely, but the driver has a lot of flexibility about the route to choose. This is in contrast to sales “superhighways,” which lead to well-established destinations, carry many fellow travelers, and have a supporting infrastructure (rest stops, gas stations) that makes driving those routes easy – so long as you’re headed to where that highway is going.

The company Magic Leap has faced such a juncture with its revolutionary technology. The firm is an early mover in the field of Augmented Reality, which uses a 3D head-mounted display to overlay virtual data on real-world environments. Magic Leap is trying to bring this technology to surgery, among other fields, so that physicians can see biometric and imaging data about a surgical site while looking directly at the patient. This proposition can be highly useful in disciplines like neurosurgery, for instance, when the operation has to access a precisely-defined site and not disturb other critical anatomy.

For Magic Leap, the head-mounted display is not enough to create success. It has to marry the hardware with surgical planning software to create a full technical solution, then it has to conduct clinical trials to prove suitability in practice, and it must find early adopters and ensure their success so that others can subsequently push their hospitals to adopt the systems. All this isn’t easy, but that’s the way new markets typically form.

This is the plan the company has followed, partnering only as necessary. For instance, Brainlab makes software for neurosurgery planning and has established customers; that’s not the distinctive part of Magic Leap’s solution, and it would be prohibitive for the company to develop those assets on its own.

Jennifer Esposito, who heads Magic Leap’s medical business, told me “A lot of our job is to educate the industry and ecosystem about what the technology can do. Then we enable the established players in the ecosystem to adopt it. My team is available to work hand-in-hand to help these companies get brought up to speed. It’s also important for us to have the closed feedback loop and bring that into the product development cycle.”

This work creates high barriers against rivals entering a space pioneered by an early mover like Magic Leap. It is also costly and time-consuming, a consideration which many start-ups tend to discount too much. Eventually, industry value chains can fragment even in complex systems, but by then the momentum from establishing the industry has created market leadership and scale economies which can carry through the successful pioneer. IBM is no longer a fully integrated computing firm, but it is still quite a force to be reckoned with.

There is a saying in business that “pioneers are the ones with arrows in their backs.” Sometimes. When a value chain becomes fragmented, focused competitors can enter later and leverage all the market development work conducted by the early movers. But when it remains at least somewhat integrated, that feat is quite challenging. In Magic Leap’s case, it is hard to imagine how the maker of the augmented reality system can be easily pushed aside later on even as it may develop more ecosystem partners over time. There will be too many inter-dependencies for that to happen.

If you are trying to jumpstart an industry, remember Magic Leap’s approach. Not many firms will be able to follow in your tracks, and if you travel the country road early you will beat rivals who are taking superhighways which aren’t nearly as fast as they might look.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by Steve Wunker, Author of JOBS TO BE DONE: A Roadmap for Customer-Centered Innovation

The Blake Project Can Help You Create A Brighter Competitive Future In The Jobs To Be Done Workshop

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Market & Economy News

Personal Branding Guide for Female Entrepreneurs and Professionals

Here at Brand Auditor, we do personal brand audits for women and men regularly. Working with hundreds of female professionals and entrepreneurs, we accumulated hundreds of thousands of feedback data and insights about what makes personal branding for women successful.

If you plan to level up your professional career or “getting out there” to become the forefront of your business, you will need personal branding skills. Your personal brand can be your best asset or your biggest flaw – depending on your choices, efforts, and commitment to building your professional fame and reputation.

What is personal branding and why does it matter?

In a nutshell, your personal brand is a curated image of yourself, communicating your values, traits, preferences, and qualities that matter to your audience, business network, or people around you.

Managing your personal brand as a woman is not about creating an alter-ego or pretending to be better than who you are. It is about working on your skills, becoming a better person, owning your successes, as well as your voicing your opinion when you speak up for a case.

Without a well-managed personal brand, your unique characteristics will remain mostly unnoticed, which might not enable you to perform up to your full potential. 

Women with a strong, authentic personal brand succeed easier in business, get promoted faster while gaining popularity day by day.

Branding yourself is the conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual by positioning them as an authority in their industry, elevating their credibility, and differentiating themselves from the competition, to ultimately advance their career, increase their circle of influence, and have a larger impact.

woman in gray business suit sitting at the back seat of a luxurious car
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Step 1: define your personal brand, and choose your audience

Before anything else, you will need to conceptualize the image you will be putting forward. Start with a self-assessment to understand which of your traits will be interesting for your future audience and business network, as well as what is expected from the person you aspire to become.

What are you going to talk about? Who do you want to get on your side? What can you demonstrate to them to earn their attention and support?

Some of the most successful female entrepreneurs consult with stylists and get their appearance right. Be it a bit edgy, classy, casual, or corporate – your appearance and style will be a super important asset.

The same goes for your tone of voice and the content you will share. Develop clear personal brand communication guidelines that will help you – or your team – to keep your brand personality in line with what you aim to communicate.

Step 2: embrace the 8 unmistakable traits of successful businesswomen

Regardless of the style and tone of your choice, if you are in business then you need to act like you are in business.

In a timeless 2012 article, The Guardian listed 10 important traits of successful female entrepreneur brands. Although things have changed a lot since 2012, most values are still relevant today and should be reflected in your brand communication. Here are 8 characteristics that should be reflected

Show your self-belief

Successful women believe in themselves. Take a look at Cindy Mi, CEO & Co-Founder of VIPKID, or any other leading female entrepreneur – you will not find any signs of self-doubt in what they convey and communicate. Same with successful artists like Taylor Swift or Nicky Minaj. This does not mean that they don’t have doubts, or they are not concerned about their actions and choices at some points – it just means that they own their decisions and finish what they started. 

Self-belief makes people respect you, and you will be seen as a strong woman.

Be clear about your ambitions

Planning to accomplish mediocre goals will not impress anyone, and will not bring you too far. Have big dreams and aspire to achieve great successes. Make it clear in your personal marketing communications, dare to talk about your ambitions and aspirations. 

Your network and online followers will respect you for it, and some people might even open doors for you to make it happen. Always strive to push forward. Always aim for the top. What’s stopping you?

Have confidence

Success breeds confidence, and confidence breeds success. This is a circle that you want to be in. Be confident in yourself, with your actions, and be confident that you will achieve what you work for. Displaying confidence makes other people trust you and support you. 

In business, showing confidence is key to win the trust of potential business partners, as well as earning promotions. 

Needless to say, confidence needs to be backed with substance – people without results acting confident are often seen as cocky, or arrogant.

Be proud of your passion

Successful female entrepreneurs are always passionate about what they do because they tend to create businesses around the things they enjoy.

As Anita Roddick once said: “To succeed you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality.”

You can be passionate about anything you work for. Be it a corporate role that has an impact on the results of your company, being a CEO or just starting a new business – passion is attractive and an amazing driving force to make things happen.

People seeing you being passionate about something will get you lots of direct and indirect encouragement, and people might want to join to support you on your journey.

Remain humble

Despite showing confidence, ambitiousness, and passion, remember that you need to stay humble. Do not brag about your successes, and do not compare yourself with your competitors – even if they were mean to you at some point. That stuff is cheap, kids behave like that.

Being humble is a virtue, a sign of gentleness. Flaunting your luxuries and successes will make people think that that is what you care about, and they will stop supporting you on your journey.

Resist the desire of showing off and keep your flashy stuff for yourself. There is no problem owning your successes, but make sure that your personal brand communication as an entrepreneur or professional is about your work and ambitions instead of your fancy lifestyle.

Have a sense of purpose

When people see you first, they want to know what are you all about. Who is she, what is she doing? Communicating your purpose clearly will answer these questions. Take time to talk about your purpose on your social media and other communication channels. Describe it clearly on your website, and make it clear when you do business with other people. 

Having a consistent purpose will give people confidence in you, and you will be seen as a woman who knows what she does.

Be assertive

To be a successful businesswoman you have to be assertive, otherwise, people will not respect you. Convey assertiveness by being fearless, speaking with authority and purpose. Adopt a confident manner, deal with any criticism rationally, and be calm, cool, and considered.

Own your hard work

Hard work earns respect, and it is the secret of success. Be proud of your work and dare to show how much effort you put into pursuing a purpose. Offer an “insider” look into your workflow, that lets people learn something special about you.

woman posing
Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

Test and evaluate your personal brand before getting too invested

Not everyone will be popular, that’s a fact. Certain personality types are very unlikely to get positive attention. For your reference, here are the most unpopular personality types:

  • ISTP: lack of interest in how other people feel
  • ISFP: weird and eccentric 
  • INFP: sour, emotionally complicated
  • INFJ: self-righteous raging
  • ENFP: flaky and unreliable
  • ENFJ: manipulative and phony
  • INTJ: the narcissist elite
  • ESFP: being desperate for attention and validation

Do a personal brand audit

Before getting too invested in building your personal brand, testing how people will react to you is highly recommended. You do not want to get started with a poor personal brand concept and make yourself ridiculous with it.

Your personal branding success largely depends on how people in your network and audience see you. The ability to audit and optimize branding, content, and communications is essential for long-term progress.

Brand Auditor makes personal brand-focused market research fast and affordable. During the auditing procedure, thousands of people will visit your website or social media pages to leave score ratings and comments regarding what they like and dislike about various aspects of your personal brand.

Personal brand audit

black woman resting on window while using laptop
Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

Growing your personal brand as a professional or entrepreneur

If you are already a successful businesswoman, then you will have a very easy job putting your personal branding into action. But if you are just starting, then the following steps will help you on your journey.

Master your style

It will take some time to find your voice and the type of content you will feel comfortable producing and sharing. It is a learning curve for everyone, so keep experimenting until you find combinations that are both effective and easy to produce. 

Be it podcasts, social media posts, photos, or anything – you want to make sure that your work comes first and your branding comes second.

Create a consistent online presence

You don’t need to be on every platform. You do not need to be on TikTok or OnlyFans just to reach more people and get more attention. Instead, focus on the platforms and communication channels that are relevant to your online personal branding efforts. In most cases, it will be LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and perhaps YouTube. There is no harm in joining other platforms, but keep in mind that sometimes less is more.

Prioritize quality over quantity – few well-crafted posts a month can be significantly more effective than flooding your social media feeds with low-quality content.

Share interesting content

Your content is your single most important marketing communication tool. People will shape their opinion about you based on your content. Craft your content with a purpose, do not just share random pictures and posts about yourself. 

  • Before posting something, ask yourself:
  • How I will be seen after posting this?
  • Can this post offend anyone?
  • Is this content valuable to my followers?

Write for relevant media

The most obvious, and most effective way to reach people outside of your network is by writing for media that is relevant to your business. As an industry expert, your views and insider knowledge will be welcomed by editors – and will be interesting for their readers. This is also called “guest blogging”.

The best way to get started with this is reaching out to editors on LinkedIn, or using their contact details shared in their journalist bio – typically at the end of each article.

Ask for informational interviews

A very similar approach to landing written publications, but doing interviews is a better way to emphasize your personality. Approach podcast hosts, find blogs and websites that interviewed other people in your league. Some media outlets will want to charge you for it – it is up to you if you feel comfortable paying for an interview.

Embrace networking

Undoubtedly, the best way to make meaningful connections is real-world networking. This is how you make fact-to-face impressions with people who matter, and this will open the most opportunities. Do not underestimate the power of personal networking.

Your networking can start on LinkedIn, by identifying people with whom you can do some sort of value exchange. Do not hesitate to reach out to them with a sound proposition – this kind of networking will be always welcome. 

Wrapping up

personal brand is, in many ways, similar to a corporate brand. It is who you are, what you stand for, the values you embrace, and how you express those values. Just as a company’s brand helps to communicate its value to customers and stand out from the competition, a personal brand does the same for individuals, helping to communicate a unique identity and clear value to potential employers or clients.

Categories
B2B Brand Management Brand & Marketing Updates Brand Management Marketing Communications

The Closing Gap Between B2B and B2C Marketing

A study carried out in 2019 by marketing and advertising effectiveness researchers Les Binet and Peter Field for LinkedIn’s B2B Institute called 5 Principles of Growth in B2B Marketing, found that some of the key rules for effectiveness in B2C marketing also apply to B2B. It concluded that five practices in particular – routine to B2C marketers – are also common to the most effective B2B marketing case studies while hardly being utilized by most B2B marketers.

In fact, a survey of marketers by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions suggested many B2B marketers are doing the exact opposite of following these rules – for instance, concentrating wholly on sales activation rather than balancing the focus across activation and brand marketing; and placing more belief in loyalty-based strategies than customer acquisition.

Binet and Field’s five findings for effective B2B marketing:

1. Invest In Share Of Voice

There is a strong relationship between market share growth and investment in advertising measured as ‘share of voice’. The relationship is very similar to that observed in B2C, implying that advertising works just as hard in B2B as B2C.

2. Balance Brand And Activation

Advertising investment should be balanced between long-term brand building and short-term sales activation (such as lead generation). Investment in both is needed, but B2B appears to require more activation than B2C, with an optimum of around 45% brand, 55% activation.

3. Expand Your Customer Base

Broadly, there are two ways a brand might grow – either by gaining more customers (increasing penetration), or by selling more to existing customers (increasing loyalty). Some, working on received wisdom, believe that loyalty is likely to be the more profitable route, because acquiring new customers is expensive. In B2C, the overwhelming weight of empirical evidence tells us otherwise. Decades of research by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute shows the main way brands grow is always by acquiring new customers. As they do so, they always get a bit more business from existing customers as well as broad reach advertising campaigns reassure existing customers that they’ve made a wise, popular and safe choice. Loyalty is never the main engine of growth and only ever increases when penetration does. Even with our limited sample of B2B cases, customer acquisition strategies tend to be much more effective than loyalty strategies, and that reach strategies (which talk to customers and noncustomers together) tend to be the most effective of all.

4. Maximize Mental Availability

Campaigns that build ‘mental availability’ more strongly tend to be more effective. Mental availability is the extent to which the brand comes readily to mind in buying situations, triggered by a combination of high saliency and strong associations with the category.

5. Use Emotion

Emotional campaigns (ones that try to make prospects feel more positively about the brand) are more effective in the long term than rational campaigns (ones that try to communicate information). According to the IPA Databank, B2B campaigns built out of strategies that rely on emotion are up to seven times more effective than those that are not. The kinds of emotional approach required will be very different in B2B from B2C, but the principle applies across both.

This is because emotional campaigns are better at brand building. However, rational campaigns are better at short-term sales activation, so a balanced campaign will incorporate both.

B2B And B2C Marketing: More Similar Than We Thought?

Were Binet and Field surprised by how closely their findings aligned with effectiveness in B2C? Binet shared his thoughts with me:

Well, there was comparatively limited data sample in terms of the number of pieces of work we looked at, but yes, we were surprised. One of the most surprising findings was the one about share of voice. In B2C there’s always been a robust relationship between share of voice and market share growth. We could see in the B2B data exactly the same relationship and it was highly statistically significant.

Several other things came out that we feel B2B marketers looking for an advantage can grasp and use: the emotional versus rational, the penetration versus loyalty and so on. It was surprising that some of the really major relationships in marketing seem to be identical across B2B and B2C.

Binet and Field didn’t have a great deal of time to fully gauge the response of B2B marketers before the world of events shut down to protect against the spread of Covid-19.

They did speak to some live audiences though and felt their work was met with a warm, if somewhat mixed, reaction. As Binet comments:

The stuff about share of voice isn’t something people talk about in B2B or a metric that they widely use. And I suspect the bit about focusing on market penetration versus a drive for greater loyalty was contrary to how B2B marketers think strategically. It’s an article of faith for many in B2B that growth comes through getting more business from existing customers.

Which brings us to a question for you: how is your B2B brand responding to the closing gap?

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Mark Choueke, excerpted from his book Boring2Brave: The ‘bravery-as-a-strategy’ mindset that’s transforming B2B marketing.

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Brand Management Marketing Communications

Awful Brand and Marketing Communication Practices That Will Make 90% of Your Prospects Hate Your Brand

This article will upset some people. Others might not agree with it, and they might have some results to contest these findings. This article is based on over 2,000,000 data points from the brand and marketing communication audits we did for 800+ clients during the past months.

The goal of this article is to list the most downrated marketing communications practices, from a customer point of view. If you want to audit your brand, you can start to configure your audit here:

https://brandauditor.me/product/marketing-communications-audit/

Let’s get started.

1. Spammy funnel email automation

82% of the 2,000,0000 brand audit respondents hated this. Too many emails, coming across as needy, and various desperate attempts to make a sale. None of these is anything your potential customers want to experience while exploring what your company has to offer.

Funnels and email automation are great tools to build customer closeness but use it with moderation and purpose. Only do what your prospects give permission to and do not cross their limits. Do not try to educate them. They do not need your comparisons, free ebooks, and needy emails.

Over 80% of people online are aware that leaving their email address equals granting permission to the company to bombard them with emails. And guess what, most of your spammy automated emails will remain unopened and deleted anyway.

Unfortunately, funnel automation misuses are often associated with online scams and info-product sellers which are both equally unreputable. 

Do not try to position your company next to these, so if you value the reputation of your brand over a few sales, then stay away from spammy email automation.

woman smiling while using laptop
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.com

2. Frequent, inappropriate follow-up emails and messages

There is another version of needy emailing, which exists in the realm of B2B companies. A tat better than automated spam, frequent follow-up emails were downrated by over 78% of market research respondents. 

What are these annoying follow-up emails and other messages?

You probably experienced it: after a demo call, or a brief product presentation, a salesperson will keep bothering you with stuff like:

  • Did you have time to evaluate our offer?
  • When do you have time to call today or tomorrow?
  • Do you want another call to discuss any questions?
  • Hello Sir…
  • You have only 5 days to subscribe…

Even worse, sometimes they will use your more personal means of communication, such as WhatsApp, Linkedin, Skype, or even Facebook Messenger. Geez.

You get the idea. Most brand audit respondents left comments to describe frequent emails as uncomfortable, weird and annoying. This practice comes across as needy and desperate, and develops a really bad idea about the company in the mind of a customer.

It does not take a marketing psychology degree to answer why prospects get annoyed by these communication efforts. Because they were not impressed by the product or service in the first place, and a purchase intent did not start to form in their mind. 

These follow-up attempts are totally inappropriate and counterproductive. A much better alternative is to check back once to see what they think and don’t make it difficult for them to say no if they don’t need your product. Maybe they will need it later. But if you blow your chances they will not consider getting back to your company again.

3. Trying to negotiate your prospects into buying from you

This technique is used when potential customers were not impressed enough, and the company thinks that listing some reasons will make them change their minds. This is a rather poor marketing communication technique, that once again comes across as needy and try-hard. 

This can be observed on various occasions, typically in the case of companies where a professional brand management team is not present. 

Let’s see a few examples: 

When Dan Lok was advertising his book “FU Money”, he had a video where he said straight to the camera: I know you clicked on my ad, but you did not buy my book. What is your f…. excuse now?

Another example is Speechelo’s YouTube ad, where they dedicate an entire advert to list reasons to buy their text-to-speech solution, and in the end, they even say “now that you don’t have any excuses…”

Unless you purposefully advertise to people with mental disabilities, it is not necessary to remind them why your product or service is the best. If your potential customers expressed some interest but did not make a purchase, that can mean three things:

  • They don’t like your product after checking it out in details
  • They like your product but don’t need it right now
  • Your product is interesting, but they are the wrong audience

Instead of trying to negotiate them into a purchase, fix your marketing communications to make your product more attractive, or find a better audience.

4. Poorly configured retargeting campaigns

Talking about audiences, retargeting campaigns in 2021 play a big part in audience retention and marketing communications.

Done right, retargeting can be an extremely good asset to get back people to your website. But in many cases, it’s configured so badly that it will achieve the opposite, and previously interested people will develop hatred towards the brand.

Over 68% of the 2,000,000 marketing communications audit respondents downrated retargeting and shared that they find it particularly annoying when banners and videos are following them.

This typically happens when retargeting / remarketing audience is kept very broad. Some advertisers prefer to serve ads to all website visitors, even though it is a lot better marketing communications practice to target highly engaged people only. The ones who have taken valuable actions and shown real interest in your products or services. 

Another common issue with remarketing campaigns is using generic “reminder” ads instead of utilizing retargeting as a brand-building tool. Ad sequences on YouTube and Facebook are quite easy to configure and will keep prospects engaged instead of boring them with the same ads in various formats.

Lastly, make sure to limit impressions to a few views daily so people will not get frustrated by seeing your advertising everywhere.

positive black female doing makeup and filming beauty blog
Photo by George Milton on Pexels.com

5. Poorly done YouTube video ads

Video ads, and generally any form of marketing communication that is below the average content standards are a big no-no. In times when freely available videos are done so professionally with lighting, audio engineering, after effects by advanced video professionals, it is simply not acceptable to come up with a lazy video ad.

Your target customers will notice the difference in video production quality, and won’t be forgiving if your advertising will look worse than the video they were originally intended to watch.

Ad quality represents your brand and tells a lot about your marketing communications. 

Another reason to invest in quality video production when it comes to ads is that better videos will get higher interaction rates, which means lower cost per click and more efficient advertising. 

The math is simple: if you spend $5,000 on a YouTube campaign at CPM (cost per thousand views) of $2.00 – that means you will get 2,500,000 views. If your CTR (click-through rate) is 1% then your campaign will get 25,000 clicks. Increasing your CTR to 2% will get you 50,000 clicks.

In plain English, this means that a better quality ad with higher CTR will get you clicks at a reduced price. Both campaign performance statistics and brand management rules confirm that investing in high-quality video advertising is a must.

For more CPM related calculations you can visit the following link

6. Building on socially sensitive topics

Starting from the mid-2000s, top brands in all B2C industries are increasingly embracing social responsibility. This is a great way to win the hearts and sympathy of their potential customers. 

Besides working for noble social and environmental causes that are generally appreciated by people, buying from brands will also make customers feel that they contribute to that cause by backing the company with their purchase. 

Fairtrade, environmentally conscious, sustainable, and other terms are increasingly frequent in the marketing communications of companies. Just recently at the end of the 2010s, global brands all stood up for LGBTQ rights, changing their logos and taking sometimes excessive measures against employees who did not agree with their take.

This triggered quite some backlash, as people know that capitalism does not care about you.

Capitalism does not care about you

People know that brands are only using socially sensitive topics to get attention and look better, and marketing communication strategies built on these pillars are generally looked at as poor and inauthentic.

While brand positioning strategies should include social differentiators to get the attention of specific groups of people, riding trends of social issues and short-lived events is just corny and cheap.

We only recommend including social topics in your branding and marketing efforts when it has strong relevance to your customers.

What happened with Dove?

Unilever’s Dove is selling limited-edition packaging of its body wash in the U.K. designed to resemble different female body types, according to a company news release. The effort is meant to celebrate different types of beauty as part of Dove’s long-running “Real Beauty” platform, and is being promoted with the hashtag #RealBeauty.

The campaign has received heavy backlash on social media and Twitter, in particular, according to Business Insider. Much of the criticism suggested that comparisons to bottles of body wash are unflattering or ridiculous regardless of body shape. “Re: the Dove thing, of course a company selling products to make you feel body positive wants you to be self-conscious,” tweeted one user named Elizabeth Bruenig (@ebruenig) in a post that now appears to be deleted. 

Categories
Brand Management Personal Brand

Personal Brand Building for Consultants & Professionals: A Simple Guide

Building a personal brand has never been important as it is today. Consumers recognize an excellent brand. It is the reason you don’t need to Google what brands such as Apple, Nike do every time they are mentioned. As an independent consultant, you need to think the same way as these brands do. Personal branding is about being known for the service you deliver. It is about reputation and the image you create. For instance, does your name pop out in meetings, or are you on top of the mind of other target brands when they are looking for a consulting expert? Well, don’t sweat it! Let us walk you through a few tips to spruce up your personal brand as a consultant. 

Work on your brand vision

Building a personal brand can be a daunting and mythical task. As a consultant or professional, it can be easy to find yourself all over the place, especially if you don’t have a plan. To improve your image or personal brand, you must first have a plan. Ask yourself, what do you want to be known for? What market do you wish to dominate, where do you want to see yourself two, five, or ten years down the line? Determining the end before you start will keep you grounded. In essence, it will be the steering wheel that drives your branding efforts. 

Develop your online persona based on your real personality

Imagine waking up every day and pretending to be someone or something you are not. Well, personal branding is like your wardrobe choices. If you buy a fancy sweater because it is trendy and not your style, chances are it will not work for you. Now, you need to get to the heart of what makes you. Think of your authentic self. 

After all, branding is more about purposefully and strategically showcasing your authentic self to your audience and customers. The best way to go about it is to identify and highlight what makes you unique and highlight them every chance you get to make your personal brand stand out.

Define your topic

To build a compelling personal brand, you need to become a recognized authority in a particular area. Imagine the traffic you will generate when people know that they can come to you for solutions on a specific topic. Your brand should be a reflection of your values, skills, and passions. Begin by researching the competition in the market, then determine how to differentiate yourself from your competitors. You can start with a detailed personal brand audit to identify your strengths and weakness. Find out what is missing out there and what you can do, or how you can leverage your special gifts to meet those needs.  

Decide who will be your target audience

This might sound counterintuitive, but not everyone will resonate with what you are doing. You will waste a lot of time trying to bring everyone to your corner. The truth is you don’t need everyone to build a successful career or business. All you need to do is reach your ‘perfect’ clientele. In fact, repel those clients you do not wish to work with and identify a specific target audience that you feel will augur well with your service or product. To effectively determine your target clients as a consultant or professional, you should:

  • Define your skills and services (highlight these skills so potential clients can find you)
  • Identify who benefits from most of your business. Survey your target market. You can use sources like Facebook, Quora, and Reddit. 
  • Investigate your potential competitors so that you can plan to differentiate yourself
  • Assess potential profitability 
  • Test your idea to the potential customers

Tip: 

Determining your target audience and sticking to them allows you to grow faster. 

Develop your personal brand and communication strategies

At this point, you probably want to start monetizing from the skills you possess. You have identified your skills and target audience; it’s now time for people to experience these skills. Developing your personal brand and communication strategies goes beyond having a website and a phone number in the contact section. It’s about demonstrating authority in your field and telling potential clients why they should hire you. To maximize the return on your knowledge and gain authority, you need to put in the work. Below are some ways to go about it:

  • Communicate to your customers regularly
  • Write articles on news sites and professional publications
  • Participate in seminars, workshops, or panels as an authority in your field. 
  • Get interviewed on radio shows and podcasts.

Be consistent 

We live in a culture that loves a flash in the pan. Ideally, your shelf life is dependent on your consistency. If people have to wait for weeks to hear from you, you can forget about having a voice in the industry. You need to demonstrate consistency across your communication, appearance, and grandeur. Ensure you are consistent both online and offline, give people reasons to fall in love with you. You can choose to be consistent either visually or personality-wise. For example, you can have a cat phrase that you say in every video.

Network! Network!

Thanks to the internet and social media age, there is a wide range of professional groups to get involved in. Remember, even as the guru in your field, there will be certain things that you might not know. This is why joining a networking group, or a professional group is highly beneficial to your personal brand. You will develop new skills, improve ideas, gain inspiration and establish yourself as a resource. Try to meet the right people online and offline. Also, look for ways to earn guest posting slots and speaking gigs. You can search for events happening in your area and generally hop into any new opportunity that helps your brand. 
Tip:

Be smart about the people and the entities you network with. Pick the right opportunities only.

Wrap up

Developing a personal brand is a long-term process but a rewarding one. As the digital ecosystem evolves, so should your career and the brand that you are creating. The strategies discussed above are aimed at helping you draw more prospects and establish your brand as an authority in the market. 

Categories
B2B Brand Management Market & Economy News

Does Having a Good Brand Matter in a B2B Environment? Here Is the Feedback From Over 5,000 Professionals.

“Branding is not a priority in business-to-business” – we hear it often from both business owners and their branding professionals. In most cases, those who are unrecognized and relatively unsuccessful compared to their competitors in their respective segment.

Top-performing B2B companies will tell you that branding is one of their most important access. They know this because they listen to their customers and measure how their brand and marketing communications impact their overall business performance.

Branding in a business-to-business environment serves the same purpose as it does in B2C; to make a great first impression, to demonstrate credibility, and to explain how their solution is supposed to solve problems and bring value to their buyers. Underestimating the importance of this, and failing to have the essential brand and marketing communications goals covered will undermine the chances of successful sales.

This article is not about our conclusions. It is about what over 5,000 respondents said about the importance of a good brand in a B2B environment.

Key statistics from our market research survey:

First impression experience

  • 87% said that they would ignore a poorly branded company
  • 64% said that they would pay more for a company with a great brand
  • 58% said that they would not contact a company with a poor brand
  • 12% said that they would give another chance for a poorly branded company

Potential customers are significantly more likely to engage with a company with positive branding. These results are not surprising, but hopefully, they got the attention of those who think that B2B branding is not important.

Feedback data from over 1 million feedback data shows that first impression experience has key importance in developing engagement. Regardless of the nature of business, people like to be impressed and a well-crafted introduction is always a good experience. A good first impression will not only reduce bounce rate and boost engagement but will help to develop credibility.

What makes a good first impression experience?

  • 89% said that appropriate communication gets their attention
  • 75% said that a neat website or app makes them stay
  • 52% said that typography and colors are important
  • 45% said that credibility is what they are looking for

Brand and marketing communications: what your potential customers expect from you?

The next question in the market research was about what brand and marketing communications do professional respondents expect from B2B companies?

  • 72% said that clarity is the most important, jargon is not welcome
  • 68% said that communication needs to demonstrate expertise and professionalism
  • 53% said that they expect very specific product presentations
  • 49% said that benefits need to be presented clearly

The audit results outline that clarity, specific presentations, demonstrated expertise, and no-brainer benefits are what B2B product and service buyers expect to see. Let’s see what communication elements are not welcome in the world of business-to-business marketing.

  • 54% said that sales and “call to action” content is a turn-off
  • 41% said that educational content from B2B companies is often valueless
  • 38% said that any content that leaves them guessing is a disappointment
  • 27% said emotional elements in B2B marketing are not welcome

Further data we have from our audits suggests, that frequent communication from B2B companies is not welcome. There is a plethora of information on the internet that encourages frequent emailing and communication to keep potential customers engaged, but over 75% of 1 million respondents indicated that this kind of content did not contribute to their purchase decision. 80% of those who did not purchase confessed that frequent email marketing communication was one of the reasons they abandoned the company.

The importance of credibility in B2B brand management: what makes or breaks the perceived credibility of your business?

Following the brand discovery process, after a first impression and brief idea of your products and services, your potential clients will want to know if your company is legit, reliable, and trustworthy. What signs and signals are they looking for? Let’s see what they shared in our market research.

  • 92% said that clear and specific product presentations boost confidence
  • 89% said that a professional, yet clear tone of voice helps to establish credibility
  • 74% said that specific case studies and uses cases win their trust
  • 52% said that reviews and references are important

The importance of case studies, reviews, and endorsements is not surprising, but 92% saying that product presentations are key does require attention. In the brand audit results of our B2B clients, poor product presentations often reduce the perceived credibility of the company. Brands with a lacking product presentation are very likely to receive poor low ratings for various credibility-related factors.

Now let’s see the top brand and marketing communication mistakes that will be guaranteed to bust credibility.

  • 87% said that misusing and overusing client company logos is a big turn-off
  • 79% said that poor product presentation will lose their interest
  • 68% said that irrelevant social media content is a credibility-killer
  • 62% said that an inappropriate tone of voice is unacceptable

Conclusion

The results of this research are not surprising. Professionalism, a clear and concise presentation, and credibility are confirmed to be the key traits that convince B2B customers to consider buying from a company.

Please keep in mind, that this market research was purely focused on surface-level branding aspects that shape the first impression and initial opinion of viewers. Crafting a winner first-impression experience for the viewers of your brand is only the first step to get their attention.

Once you have the attention of your potential customers, a variety of other factors will determine if they want to get in touch with you – such as your business concept, pricing, revenue model, and compatibility – which are part of a different discussion.

We see that branding and marketing communications in the case of B2B companies are often treated as a non-priority. This is a big mistake as failing to impress potential customers, or neglecting their preferences have a direct negative impact on sales – and can sabotage growth both short and long term.

Categories
Brand Management Business Concept Market & Economy News

6 Reasons Why Your Customers Can’t Understand Your Brand and Business Concept

A business concept is the direction and form of a company’s operations that gives a clear path when creating a business plan. Branding, including your positioning and first impression experience are the first things your customers will face when checking you out online. Regardless of the greatness of your business ideas, your branding basics need to be able to demonstrate the value of what you sell.

When customers do not understand your business concept, the sales of your product or service may never take off. You may be investing time and resources into brand development, sales campaigns and various forms of marketing, but you keep noticing that the people are hesitant to pay for what you sell. All this could be because your targeted customers do not fully understand your business. Or perhaps your business is not relevant for them.

Here at Brand Auditor, we run business concept audits and various other audits on a daily basis. Based on our millions of feedback data and insights, here are some of the reasons why your customers do not understand your business concept:

You don’t have confidence in your business idea

First and foremost, the only way to make anyone else believe in your business concept is to ensure that you have a conviction of the ideas yourself. If you have not convinced yourself how amazing of an idea your business concept is, you may not be able to convince anyone else. It is necessary to have confidence in your business as this will rub off on potential consumers and even investors if you are keen on sourcing funds for your venture.

If you are not sure about your business concept, we recommend to do a Business Concept Audit. This audit helps to understand how your business concept is received by your target customers. Are you solving a real problem or your idea is seen to be useless? Does your business model make sense to your customer? Is your value proposition attractive enough? Is your pricing correct? Is your credibility sufficient to win the trust of potential customers?

You may be targeting the wrong market

People cannot buy products and services that they are not aware exist. Well, you may be strongly marketing your business but still missing the mark because you are not targeting the right people.

Your brand building and marketing efforts might not be reaching the people who are likely to have the most interest in your product. Increasing your marketing spend while still maintaining a similar marketing vehicle may be what is causing your target customers to not look in your direction. 

Define the key demographic of your target audience and tailor both your brand and advertising to address their needs, in a way that they welcome it.

Select the right marketing channels that ensure that your brand will be visible to people it is supposed to persuade. If your target customers are online, no number of billboards will get the information to them.

Some products are best suited for the online market, while others will sell more where customers can see them in a physical store. Your targeted clients may not be understanding your business because the message you are sending out is not getting to them. 

Your products or services are not accessible

Customers will not have the opportunity to understand your business if it is not available to them. They cannot buy something inaccessible. They may have heard about your brand from your excellent marketing efforts, but if they cannot access the product, you might as well forget it.

Accessiblity means the following things:

  • Your product needs to be available to purchase
  • Your services can be rendered for them
  • The price point is suitable for your customers
  • They can pay with their preferred payment methods

People want to engage with a product that they can obtain and use easily. Try to make your products more accessible by having them in different locations and working on your distribution channels. Perhaps, you could make the product available online for it to reach a wider audience. If you feel like your consumers do not fully understand your business concept, you may want to analyze the accessibility of your service or product to see where to make changes.

Your brand experience and customer engagement sucks

For customers to understand your business and report great experiences, you need to provide channels for them to pose their questions and share their insights. Prioritize offering the best customer experience to ensure that you retain the customers and bring in more revenue. 

With all thanks to technological advancements, there are new tools available that enable smoother engagement with customers. It is now possible to engage with potential customers in real-time. You can use Brand Auditor to get real insights about customer’s perceptions of your brand. These channels are excellent for getting customer insight. 

When you fail to utilize these tools, you are at risk of customers not understanding your business. Opportunities for engagement are a great way to explain to your customers more about your products or services. You can clear any doubts they have as you explain the benefits they can get from your business. 

You fail to communicate the value of your products and services

While price is a huge determining factor to whether people buy a product or not, customers do not acquire items solely based on price. You may be offering the best price in the market, but if you are not fully explaining how the product will better the lives of the targeted market, you are missing the mark. Try to have a keen focus on highlighting the benefits your products will afford anyone who purchases them.

Ensure that your marketing message emphasizes the potential benefits anyone is missing from not using your product. That will pique their interest in the product or service. You can make a list of all the gains they can expect and amplify that in your marketing message. Maybe, just maybe, your customers are not understanding your products because you are not communicating the value of the products to them. 

You do not have specific buyer personas

One of the mistakes that most businesses make when marketing their products is using more general demographics like age, location, or profession to create buyer personas. These characteristics do not cut it in providing the best messaging that will resonate with the target audience. You can use tools like Google Analytics to understand your customer preferences. Dig deeper to know which outlets or which social media platform drives the most traffic to your business. Applying this information will help you identify the most effective ways to reach your audience. 

You could also get keyword data to help you know which descriptions different buyer personas use to describe your business. For this, you can employ Google Search Central Tool to help you make a list of the most popular keywords that bring people to your site. When you narrow down messaging to specific buyers other than opting for a more general approach, you are more likely to help more customers understand your business.

Wrapping up

Sales and profitability in any business can only be realized if the customers fully understand the business concept. They are more willing to recommend your company to their friends and family if they get it and believe in it!

Categories
E-commerce & Online Stores Market & Economy News

7 Top E-Commerce Store Branding Mistakes

The e-commerce retail business is ruthless. In order to operate a profitable online store, one need to understand products, prices, consumer trends, traffic acquisition, funnels and a lot of technical aspects of e-commerce management.

In this article we will focus on branding mistakes we see our customers to commit quite frequently, undermining the profitability and success of their e-commerce projects.

As you might be aware, one of our most popular audit products is the E-commerce Store Brand Audit.

This audit helps to understand what your target customers think about your e-commerce website. Is your product selection in line with expectations? Is it easy to find products that your buyers are looking for? Are your store policies establishing trust and confidence? Is your store branding helping sales or just repelling potential buyers?

Each selected scope of your analysis will add a separate page to your report with the following information:

  1. Score ratings of 4 micro-aspects (1 to 10) by your respondents
  2. Score ratings of similar brands benchmarked with your scores
  3. Comments and feedback received from your respondents

What is this article about?

Branding is a blueprint for how you want the world to view your business. With branding, you get to create an identifiable identity that makes a promise of value. Additionally, branding helps you create a conscious image, bringing about awareness of your eCommerce, leading to your company’s personality. It creates emotions in your audience and encompasses your values which eventually differentiates you from your competitors. Unfortunately, businesses risk marketing and selling products without a clear vision of who they are, without a proper branding strategy. In this article, we will highlight common branding mistakes that eCommerce owners should avoid. 

Brand inconsistency

Brand consistency is the first rule of building a solid brand. According to statistics published via Forbes, presenting a brand consistency across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%. Conversely, an inconsistent company is seen as disjointed, unprofessional, and, worse, untrustworthy. 

Coordinating your visual assets across every platform your company is represented, such as your website, ads, social media, and print materials, is the first step in building consistency. Well, align your visual identity in a reproducible and efficient manner. When your website or marketing materials do not align with each other and are out of date, potential customers may be confused and doubt the integrity of your company. 

Lack of a brand guideline for your online store

It is easier for you to coordinate your content across every platform that your company is represented with a brand guideline. Having good policies in place is essential once a brand is created. Your brand assets and brand guidelines, including typography, color palettes for your brand, tone of voice, and logo files, should be readily available both publicly and within your organization. It is as simple as having a dedicated, simple web page that communicates about brand usage and providing easy access to brand assets. Your message is also cohesive and consistent across all communication channels with a style guide. Furthermore, it also allows you to reinforce your credibility and brand identity. 

Not differentiating your e-commerce brand

To stand out, you must be unique so that people can remember you. No doubt that a good design gives you all of that. Your clients may opt for the cheapest options if you look like all the other companies in your space. Why should they go ahead and choose you if they don’t see a difference? You need to stand out and communicate your value among your competitors. Design is the ultimate differentiator of any business, after all. 

However, the big question is, how do you get to differentiate your e-commerce business from the rest? Well, you have to run background research on your competitors and look for points of differentiation. Go ahead and define who your customers are, how to connect with them, and most importantly, define who you are. Create verbal and visual messages that will help you communicate your value and stand out once you have a clear mission and vision in place.

Not responding to your audience

While you shouldn’t try to be appealing to everyone, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore criticism or feedback. On the contrary, it is vital to listen to how your target audience feels about your work, especially when launching a new product or a marketing campaign. A PWC survey shows that 73 percent of consumers cite customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing. This is why your eCommerce should have great customer support.

Use good social media management and monitoring tools like Socialbakers, Brandwatch, MeltWater, Brand Moran, Talkwalker, Mention, etc. They can help you create a feed using brand mentions, hashtags, and specific keywords. This will narrow down to a single location to check on the feedback. You may also check CRM and customer support tickets in case of a surge of feedback or frequent complaints on the tail of a new marketing campaign. 

Better even, you can use Brand Auditor to drill in deeper to what social listening tools won’t. It will help you measure your target customers’ likes or dislikes about your services, products, branding, and marketing communications. Remember, gathering data and leveraging the response you get from your audience is crucial to help your brand evolve in the right way. After all, branding is an ongoing process!

Lack of a dedicated e-commerce marketing strategy

Despite many companies, more so e-commerce platforms coming up with ideas to establish a brand identity and market themselves, most of them neither have the resources nor a detailed plan on reaching their audience. Also, many companies, when updating or launching their brand fail to leverage their greatest assets, which are the existing customers.

A great channel to project your company’s brand is recurring customers, especially those who speak highly of your services or products. Now, consider having a well-thought marketing plan in place before your branding strategy.

Jumping on trends

While keeping up with the latest design and branding trends is a great way to present your company in a new and fresh method, there’s a huge difference between losing your core identity to pursue the hottest new thing and modernizing your brand. Being swept up in what looks trendy at the moment is very easy. However, it would be best to remember that your brand would need to weather many waves of design trends without looking dated.

Use design trends as a source of inspiration but do not rely too heavily on them when planning your next major redesign. In this era of constant consumption, where social media updates, news, and fast fashion grab our attention, it is wise not to waste resources and time on invaluable returns.

Underestimating the power of brand

How powerful is your eCommerce brand? What is the first impression when people look at your brand? Reports have shown that it only takes 0.05 seconds for people to form an opinion about your website. A strong brand increases engagement, customer loyalty and creates trust. Additionally, consumers are likely to purchase products from a platform or company with a straightforward brand story. As a result, it is easier for them to form an emotional connection with the particular brand. Thus, prioritize branding from the very onset of your business creation. 

Wrapping up

Branding eventually affects the longevity of your business and should be taken seriously. To help you grow your brand the right way and make better decisions, we have highlighted some of the top branding mistakes most online businesses make. So, take the initiative to educate yourself and create the foundation for long-term success.

Categories
B2B Brand Management Business Concept Market & Economy News

How to Do a Brand Audit, and How Evaluating Your Brand Will Benefit Your Business?

Brand optimization is a key part of any business that wants to become or remain an attractive choice for their potential customers. This article is about the importance of keeping your brand in line with customer expectations, collecting insights, and how to optimize for increased sales.

Start with asking the right questions: what would make your potential customers like you more?

People buy from brands that they like. It is common sense, but very important to understand and accept this. If your potential customers like your brand, you will get more leads, more prospects, and the entire sales process will become significantly smoother. 

It is not possible to substitute liking with reasoning. You can have the most practical solutions, offer the best value, and have the most innovative technology – your customers will not see you as an attractive option to solve their problems if they do not like how you present yourself.

It is very similar to dating: a candidate can have everything right: a good body, career, a pleasant personality with good manners. If he fails to be exciting for his target dates, women will only see him as a secondary option after the more exciting guys.

Why 78% of small businesses fail to optimize their brand and marketing communications?

Branding and marketing communications are possibly the most effective tools to increase sales and revenue without further investment. To optimize your brand for more sales, the first question you need to ask is: how to make my brand more popular? How to make people like your brand more? 

To answer this, you need to collect insights from your target customers. If you understand that asking your potential customers will return the most valuable feedback, that means you have already done better than 78% of small business owners.

According to a recent survey we conducted with over 2,000 small business owners and marketing managers working for SME – over 50% are guessing answers, 28% works with an external branding and marketing expert, but only 22% will take the effort to collect feedback and insights from their audience.

Making your brand and marketing more attractive to your target audience requires knowing what they expect from a company like you.

How to collect feedback from your audience?

When getting feedback from your target customers, you need to keep the following things in mind:

  • You need at least 2,000 feedback to make your market research representative
  • You need to be able to target your potential customers very accurately
  • You have to ask the right questions to get valuable answers

At this stage, a brand audit company such as Brand Auditor can help significantly. Brand Auditor specializes in customer perception-focused market research, collecting thousands of feedbacks from narrowly targeted campaigns.

It is also possible to conduct data collection in-house, if you are familiar with fundamental data collection and surveying frameworks. Tools like SurveyMonkey are great for designing surveys that you can distribute yourself.

The most significant cost factor of brand audit is the cost of data collection. To minimize market research costs, you will need to optimize for the following:

  • Cost efficient survey distriubtion
  • High response rate
  • Low survey abandon rate

To achieve these, the best practice is to use short-form surveys with simple yes or no questions, as well as score ratings that respondents can use to express the level of their liking or disliking. 

Most market researchers fail to get the necessary quantity and quality of responses because of using too long surveys, and asking questions that are difficult to answer. Surveys that can be completed in 30 seconds are having an excellent completion rate, so it is best to design accordingly.

How to understand your brand audit insights?

Once your market research data is in, it is time to move on to organize all that information into actionable insights. Once again, brand audit specific solutions like Brand Auditor are a great help in this, as their system automatically organizes all feedback data into insightful reports. 

Ideally, your brand audit report should focus on the following insights:

  • What potential customers like about your brand?
  • What potential customers dislike about your brand?
  • Does your brand look better compared to competing brands?
  • Would customers buy from you? Why or why not?

This structure can be replicated to analyze various aspects of your brand, such as:

  • Brand identity
  • Perceived benefits associated with your company and products
  • Marketing communications
  • Pricing and value related customer perceptions
  • Website user experience
  • Perceived credibility
  • … and a lot more

The point of organizing your market research data into brand audit insights is to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your company, benchmarked against your competitors or similar companes that you want to over perform.

When reading the results of this analysis, marketers tend to become defensive and protective about their work. Revealing poor performance and shortcomings is never a pleasant experience, but accepting the issue is the first step of solving it. Making meaningful improvements can be only done by addressing significant issues, so do not be afraid to reveal harsh thruths about how how people think about your company.