Article | July 30, 2020
Content in the travel industry continues to evolve as customer behaviour changes and brands attempt to adapt. Consumers are demanding new and exciting forms of content, shared with them across multiple channels. Not to mention they want this content to be tailored specifically to them.
These shifts in behaviour, coupled with renewed optimism about the industry have given rise to a host of new trends in the travel and tourism sector. Roughly 74% of travel consumers are eagerly anticipating frequent travel again, and for brands hoping to stand out from the competition and get their content in front of eager travellers, these are the trends they need to know.
Article | November 20, 2020
Often people believe that brands do not matter as much in a B2B environment as in a consumer one. In fact, the opposite is often true. In a consumer environment, the buyer is using his or her own money, so it is a major factor in the buying decision. In a B2B environment, the buyer is using the company’s money, and the key driver may be career advancement or even job protection. This means that avoiding making a mistake may be more important than making the best decision. As the old saying went, “no one ever got fired for choosing IBM.” So there are many B2B brands which have achieved and retained a status which justifies a price premium. Strong ingredient brands are among these. So Nutrasweet became a brand which justified a premium, as did Intel. However, these brands cannot simply be exploited without being nurtured. Just as with consumer brands, these brands can die or be superseded. Splenda came along and took much of the same space as Nutrasweet. The fact that it is both an ingredient and stand-alone brand gave it a stronger presence in the mind of the end-user.
In B2B giving a product a name is easy, but that does not necessarily mean a brand in the customer’s mind. The key factor is whether, when we use the B2B grid, the use of the brand is compatible and enhancing to customer perception.
All too often, in B2B, companies sabotage themselves. They focus on price, and in fact draw attention to it. Perhaps, if their costs are lowest, this may give the company leadership for a while. However, they end up placing themselves in the worst quadrant – the commodity segment, such as wheat or iron ore. Second worst is “service goods,” where price is the most likely distinguishing feature, but where the goods are so unimportant that the buyer may ignore price. Such examples are paper clips and cleaning supplies. Following this is the strategic goods quadrant, where price is secondary, even if high. High grade steels in the manufacture of jet aircraft are examples of this. The most envied position is to be a specialty product. An example may be a high priced additive or processing aid. Price is relatively irrelevant if it ensure top quality. When Richard Guha of Take Control Of was CMO of the enterprise software business at Remedy/BMC, he spent much time positioning the product in this way through its brand. The brand was positioned to be the only safe choice to make, but the name was not changed as change was unneeded. It was also priced so that customers could buy on an a la carte basis for modest increments or on a prix fixe basis for a complete turnkey product. In the energy business also, while more difficult, this is still the objective. When energy deregulation started, Houston Industries, the third largest combination utility was faced with the fact that it provided services well beyond Houston, and that, although its name implied it, it manufactured nothing. Thus it rebranded itself as Reliant Energy very successfully. This brand was used in consumer and B2B markets equally.
The challenge which use of branding faces is to add perceived value to the product. Instead of merely “steel” a company such as Mittal Steel has to be perceived as providing some added value to the buyer. In each market, this may be different. The most extreme situations are when a product or service is “clearly” a commodity. One of the most obvious commodities is rigid metal packaging, aka, cans! Yet,
can manufacturers have succeeded in differentiating themselves on the basis of service, technological innovation, and end-user sensitivity. Often, adding service to product can add perceived value.
In B2B companies it should be far easier to measure and control the value of a brand. Usually, there is a direct connection to the customer. CRM systems, if well managed (another story), can identify them, and allow the company to understand the meaning of the brand, and the difference it makes to the price realized vs. an unbranded alternative. The sum of these differences is the effective Brand Value. Knowing all the levers to pull makes is possible to enhance it in far more direct ways than for a consumer brand.
In short, we have seen that in B2B markets, a brand can go even further in adding value to a product or service than in a consumer market.
Max Brand Equity works with corporations, turnaround managers, and private equity firms to understand and maximize the value of their brands – often the most valuable part of a business.
Article | March 13, 2021
A lot of our clients want to create a “strong brand” – a very vague term that gets tossed around a lot.
What is a brand anyway?
I like Seth Godin’s definition:
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one product or service over another.
I also like my definition:
Your company’s brand is what people say about it when you’re not there.
If a majority of your company’s clients come from word of mouth, I guarantee you have a strong brand.
So, what does it take to create a strong brand?
Time (and effort)
You cannot create a strong brand overnight – even if you’re a Kardashian. It takes time and effort to build awareness and a reputation.
When I first launched my company, I networked constantly. I met some of my best clients that way, but my god, I had to endure a lot of ridiculousness. I was once cornered by two government contractors who decided to play “define that acronym” – their idea of a fun game. I went to countless one-on-one meetings at Starbucks that turned into sales pitches and sat in rush hour traffic (there’s a reason I work from home).
After a couple of years, the word-of-mouth referrals started rolling in. And I stopped going to networking events.
An interesting personality
As the business owner, you are the face – and personality – of the brand. This is not the time to be timid. Own who you are and let your freak flag fly. People will remember you – and that’s a critical element of a strong brand.
Worried you’ll scare people away? Don’t be. If people like you, they will work with you. If they don’t, you don’t want to work with them anyway.
People remember me because I tell it like it is while making them laugh at the same time. What do people remember you for? (Go ahead and ask your favorite people if you don’t know.)
A community (preferably in person)
In our digital world, it is hard to build a community – but it is doable. The trick? Make it easy for people to participate.
Ask them questions and allow them to share their ideas. If you use Facebook for marketing, host Facebook Live chats or create a Facebook Group.
But my favorite way to create community? Host regular meetups with hand-selected people once it’s safely to meet in person again. There is NO substitute for interacting face to face.
(Yes, I know I just finished telling you how much I hate networking. This is different, as it’s much more selective; you more or less control who’s there. Invite the people you like and ask them to invite the people they like.)
A phenomenal experience
A great experience doesn’t mean showering your clients (or customers) with confetti and handing out free Champagne. It means making every interaction with you, your team and your products/services a delight.
It means people love you so much that they will talk about you every chance they get.
It also means you …
Do what you say you’re going to do
How many times have you been disappointed by a company’s product/service or your interaction with them? From useless customer service reps, to dirty bathrooms, to products that don’t work as advertised, we tend to have really low expectations.
When you keep promises, you will stand out as a hero. All you have to do is keep communication open, stick to the budget, meet deadlines and actually deliver what say you will.
Stick to your message
When people ask, “So, what does your company do?”, how do you respond? Do you have the same answer every time? Is it clear and concise?
Sticking to one message – generally, your value proposition – makes it easy for people to talk about you. Repeat it enough, and they’ll learn your message and be able to recite it. Maybe not word-for-word, but close to it.
Consistency is so important for a strong brand: consistent quality, consistent experiences, consistent customer service, consistent marketing. Consistency means you are dependable and trustworthy. It means people are confident you will do what you say you will.
Imagine getting an email from a new-to-you-brand. You like what you see in the email, so you click over to their website – and you have no idea where you are. The look and feel are completely different.
You start doubting this company. Are they also inconsistent in the quality of their work? Do they even know what they’re doing?
If you are inconsistent, you will sow doubt in the minds of your potential customers and tarnish your reputation. Don’t take the chance!
Here’s some homework for you: Think about your favorite brands. What do you like most about them? How can your brand emulate them? Creating a strong brand is work – but the payoff is worth it.
Article | July 15, 2020
Personalization has come a long way in the past two decades — from the early days of including your recipient’s name in mass email copy, to creating personalized proposals, tailoring content and segmenting audiences. Twenty years ago, these small pockets of personalization were seen as revolutionary for B2B marketers, who typically fall 3-5 years behind the consumer marketing world. Today, for world-class B2B marketers, it’s no longer enough. Seamless, dynamic, real-time personalization is vital. And, it needs to start at the beginning of the buyer journey — from the moment they land on your website.