Welcome to the first of my six articles on revenue growth – each covering a different pillar necessary for success. The strategies and tactics I will share come from a great deal of client experience as well as what we have done to grow our own business. I promise that if you follow the advice I will share with you, it will make a large difference to your top-line revenue number. Here are the six pillars:
- Differentiated and compelling brand promise
- Profitable Business Model
- Optimized sales process
- Effective lead-to-revenue framework
- High-performance online strategy
- Successful customer loyalty program
I started with branding as my first pillar because if you don’t get this pillar right, you will be building the rest of your marketing on a poor foundation. Yet many companies take their brand for granted—even if weak, because it has become comfortable. To be sure, changing or revising a brand is a tough proposition so it is often easier to just go with the status quo, even if that means a weaker competitive position.
There is also a misconception that branding is less important for B2B companies than B2C, but this is not accurate. As reported in a Handshake.com article, “McKinsey & Company recently wrote in Forbes magazine that some of the most successful B2B companies have as much or more of their company assets tied up in goodwill and other intangible assets––better known as their “brand”––as B2C branding giants like Procter and Gamble.”
What is a brand? A simple definition is “The perception of what customers believe they will receive when they do business with you.” I like to think about a company’s brand as its “reason for being.” Your company obviously provides products and/or services but the real question is: Why do you do so? For that matter, why does everyone, from your CEO to the shipping clerk, get out of bed and come to work every day? If the answer is anything like “to get a paycheck” you have an internal branding problem, at least, one that probably carries out into the wider community of partners, customers and competitors.
The term brand means something different to customers, partners, staff and executives. It is not unusual for us to ask executives to describe their brand and have several different answers. However, it is imperative that you gain consensus on this, especially from your own personnel. If it does not make sense to your own leaders, the rest of the world is not going to get the point.
Some people think of a brand as basically a logo and tagline. This is an overly simplified view because it limits the power that a strong brand can yield. Here are the components that make up your brand strategy:
- The words you use to describe your company, products and services. By words, I mean not only the tagline but also the first-level messaging in areas like the value proposition and the “About Us” statement on your website.
- The images (logos, symbols, colors, graphics, etc.) employed to present a visual representation of your company, products and/or services.
- The emotions, feelings and perceptions that your brand evokes, both to the external audience (customers, prospects, partners, media) and internal audience (employees, board members, stockholders).
- The methods you use to share your brand message in educational, promotional and social media outreach.
Eight Attributes of Successful Brands
Often, when we ask an executive team what makes their company, products or services better or different, the answer is something like:
- We really care about our customers.
- We treat our clients’ business like our own.
- Our service is the best in our industry.
- We go above and beyond to take care of customers.
- We offer tremendous value.
These are lukewarm branding statements because they are not differentiated and are hard to prove. So how do you know when you have a great brand? Here are the important attributes you should work toward:
- It is unique. What you claim cannot be stated by any other company. It is interesting and cannot be said to be a me-too message.
- It is congruent and accepted by customers because it matches their experience in purchasing and using your products and services.
- It creates an emotional connection with buyers and feeds their need for security, growth and connectedness.
- It is clearly defined, understood and endorsed by executives, employees and partners.
- It supports a higher price point. You are not considered a commodity, where price is the primary reason customers buy from you.
- It resonates. This is true because it is compelling, believable and based on a thorough understanding of the characteristics, challenges, needs and desires of the people who comprise your target segments.
- It is balanced – neither overly broad or so tightly defined that it narrows your market reach.
- It has a WOW factor. There are lots of ways to accomplish this, many of which can be found in Adrian Swinscoe’s excellent CustomerThink article titled, 57 Insights From Leading Brands and Experts on What it Takes to Deliver a Wow Customer Experience.
These principles apply equally to large, small and medium-sized companies. One example is K&R Negotiations; a company we have worked with for some time. K&R’s tagline is “Win Wisely” and its brand promise is: K&R Negotiations’ Win Wisely™ methodology delivers higher close rates, larger deal sizes and longer, more profitable relationships.” The tagline, brand promise and supporting copy tell a fast story about what the company does and how it benefits clients. And, while branding is not the only reason for K&R’s market leadership – it certainly reinforces the expertise of its founder, Mladen Kresic and the rest of the organization.
Just in case you are still pondering about whether to prioritize a brand strategy, the CeB/Motista Survey shows that prospects who have a brand connection with a company (vs. no connection) are:
- 5 times more likely to consider a product/service.
- 11 times more likely to actually purchase.
- 30 times more likely to pay a premium price.
Obviously, you want to put these odds on your side. Spend some quality time to get this first pillar right and you will be on the way to solid revenue growth.
Image Source: Adobe Stock