When your business is looking for a potential buyer or investor, it is difficult to predict what factors will make them choose you in the beauty parade that follows. Of course, the numbers are at the forefront of the initial attraction, but building your company’s reputation with a strong brand and a clear value proposition can be the x-factor that your investor is looking for in a world of parity corporations.
Brand investment is all too often seen as an extravagance by B2B companies, relying on familiar messaging, monetary offers and contractual tie-ins. Whilst these things are clearly important, they’re not contributors to your brand nor your accelerated growth. B2B companies which build their brand on an emotional level build a base of customers that stay longer and pay more (research shows up to 8 times more for comparable products and services). B2B brands that invest in emotions lead markets, reputations and thoughts in their sectors, becoming the benchmark by which others measure themselves.
Whilst it may seem surprising that emotions are such a key factor in B2B, it actually makes logical sense. As a consumer, if we make a bad purchase, the stakes are low, the product is usually returnable or we chalk it up to experience. In the B2B world the risks are incredibly high, responsibility for a multi-million pound product or service that goes wrong can have serious ramifications; poor business performance, loss of bonuses and even the loss of livelihood – talk about emotional! These emotions and connections are built and controlled by investment in your brand.
Building your brand isn’t something that can be ‘done to your business’, it’s something you do with the business. Brand definition is a collaborative, productive, and often enjoyable exercise in galvanising management teams, exec boards and frontline staff. Where companies embrace the brand definition process, they will invariably find it influences and focusses decision making, recruitment, growth, and product strategy, amongst countless other factors that aren’t immediately seen as being related to, or impacted by, branding.
REAL WORLD EXAMPLE- A client with a broad product offering across an entire industry needed cut-through in the marketplace. While a recognisable identity, the client lacked an understandable or valued brand. We carried out customer research, brand auditing and insight evaluation workshops inside the business, as well as brand strategy and customer journey planning that ensured all customers / prospects (and staff) valued the ‘why’ of the business at each interaction, feeling emotionally engaged with the vision.
Startup culture has increased the profile and importance of a compelling value proposition. When new entrants have a compelling value proposition, it’s crucial for existing market players to compete. Using some of the new techniques for developing value propositions can have an immediate and powerful effect on sales and marketing.
The value proposition is a clear statement of what you offer, to whom and in what way. It is different from the brand because it focuses on differentiation in the moment that customers are ready to buy; it gives them the tangible reason why. That value could be price, attitude of employees, ease of purchase, convenience, delivery time, post sales support, finance and so on. It is almost impossible to rapidly grow sales revenue without a great value proposition. Some businesses can ride the rising tide of a powerful trend, but sooner or later to be competitive, and valuable, you will need to find your uniqueness.
REAL WORLD EXAMPLE – Eat your own dog food! We have built our agency entirely around the value proposition that ‘we make companies more valuable’. We regularly turn down non-core work so that we can focus on customers working toward financial events. Everything we do and everything we learn benefits new and existing companies in the same situation.
Combined, brand development and value proposition provide a unique, memorable and aligned business that sets you apart both emotionally and rationally, helping you win the beauty parade for looks, and with the story and personality to match.
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