Many CEOs, presidents, and owners of small and medium sized B2B businesses believe Brand is something that only large consumer businesses like Target need to think about. They have lots of other pressing investments, and Brand has the connotation of being expensive, with lots of glitz, advertising, and PR, but without a good or measurable ROI. I don’t agree with this assessment, and I believe there’s another way to think about Brand.
Your Brand is important, especially in an Internet connected commodity oriented world. There isn’t anything your customers can’t buy from someone else for less. One of the things that distinguishes you is your Brand, and you have a Brand whether you think you do or not.
Brand is the value people are willing to pay you over the intrinsic value of your product or service because of it’s perceived value.
Brand is determined, not by what you say about yourself, but by what customers and prospects think about you based on their interactions with your company, products, and services.
So you may sell reliable products, but if you are hard to do business with, your Brand of “Reliable,” may be derailed by a competitor whose Brand is “Reliable with Great Service.” It doesn’t matter if you say you have great service if that’s not the customer experience. The customer will think of your company and think, “Reliable, Crappy Service,” and pay you what they think that’s worth.
How do you know what your Brand is? It’s simple. Ask your customers. There are lots of ways to do this, but it means making a small investment in figuring out what your customers think. If you are not doing this, then how can you get better, compete, and grow? You’re simple guessing or trying to convince with your messaging. Our recommendation is to get the data that defines your Brand.
But just as Brand is determined from outside your company, and not dependent on what you say about yourself, there is one major factor for Brand that is determined from the inside out. Since Brand is created in every interaction with your company, whether on the web, or how you answer the phones, or how you service you products, the one common denominator is your people.
Your people, whether in billing, or service, or delivery, or sales, create the Brand for your company.
So here’s an easy way to get started. It’s the formula at the top of this post. The most important thing a CEO can do is to hire the right people. If you hire for Values (V) and do a good job, the Values of an individual determine their Attitude (A). The Attitudes of a group of employees determine the Culture (C) of a company. Culture and execution trump everything in the SMB space. Culture determines how employees interact with prospects and customers, and this determines your Brand. Hire for Values, reinforce them with a strong mission statement, and you will find that your Brand will follow. Fail to do this and your Brand will evolve haphazardly, and you’ll find yourself wasting money on marketing messages that fail, and not getting paid what you think you should.
So now as a test, without looking them up, list out the values of your company. Let us know how you did, and whether you want to find out if your customers agree.
Do Great Things
L. Hobart Stocking
Prairie Sky Group