My story as a Marketer started when I was ten years old.
When I was ten, I got an illness which ate away at my hip sockets and left me in a wheelchair for five years. I was kicked out of my first school because they could not handle having a disabled person as a student. These were less enlightened times. But my parents were brilliant and found me a replacement school that was up to taking on a wheelchair.
Yet this new school came with a challenge built in. It was constructed on three levels connected by steep flights of narrow stairs. And classes were conducted across all three levels. Each class lasted 40 minutes. So every 40 minutes, I needed to get from a classroom on one level to a classroom on another. And do so in a timely way. Otherwise I’d miss the lesson. But I was stuck in a metal chair. I couldn’t make the journey myself because I couldn’t move my legs.
So I had to persuade the children in my class to club together and push my wheelchair to the staircase, hold off traffic from other users of the stairwells, carry me in my wheelchair up the steep stairs, push my chair to the next classroom all in time for the next class to begin. And thus I needed a marketing campaign to populate a rota of teams of pupils to help get me to the class on time. I ran poster campaigns, newsletters, prize draws. I even got the local tv station on board to give my volunteers a chance of stardom.
That’s how my story starts. My first marketing campaign. Today, I tell the story of other businesses so that they can clearly explain what they do, why they are different from the rest, and why customers should buy their products and services. That story uses emotion to engage its target audience and connect them with the business. It needs plot and tension, and a game-changing solution. And it then needs lots of different marketing channels to get that message across. And we need to build up an organisation’s capability to keep doing that in an ongoing and systematic way. Marketers like to call it branding… but it’s really about helping a business better deliver its objectives.
If a business isn’t attracting the type of customer it wants or isn’t standing out from the crowd, it’s worth thinking about branding. Neither of these problems is uncommon. Just 14% of B2B buyers say they perceive a real difference in the B2B supplier offerings they have to choose from.
And branding applies as much in the B2B space as in the B2C. B2B decision making these days is an emotional as well as a rational process. Yet in a recent survey, 31% of prospective B2B customers thought that their B2B brands currently provided an emotional connection with them.
Plenty of B2B companies are starting to do branding. Think a of the HP campaign to launch Sprout that tells the story of hands to market PCs. Think of GE on Instagram telling the story of the people behind the technology. Think of Gusto’s daily personalised emails. And branding can apply to companies as much as products and services and single campaigns.
In fact it’s a good way of getting to the happily ever after.