Today, Branding Is More About The Experience Than The Logo, And Inbound Marketing Helps You Deliver
Entrepreneur.com defines branding as a marketing strategy that involves creating a differentiated name and image – often using a logo and/or tag line – in order to establish a presence in the consumer’s mind and attract and keep customers.
I’m going to tell you that the last part – establishing a presence in the consumer’s mind that attracts and keeps customers – is more about the experience you create for them than about the logo or name of your business. This is where most people make a mistake.
No one is deciding whether to hire you based on your logo. They’re deciding whether to hire you based on how you make them feel while you’re working with them. That’s why you need a click-to-close inbound marketing and inbound sales approach to impact your branding.
Focus your energy and your money on creating a remarkable experience instead of redesigning your logo.
Here’s how to use inbound marketing and inbound sales to build your brand.
Your Brand Is What People Say About Your Business
You buy an iPhone. Is it because of the Apple logo? No. It’s because of how the products and store experience make you feel, as well as the pride you have when you take your phone out. Or, maybe it’s about the efficiency you achieve when you use it or the cool features that come with the phone. But, the logo? That has nothing to do with it.
The same is happening with your business. People talk about your business every single day. They say good things, neutral things and not-so-good things. What they’re saying is based on their experiences with you, your team, your products, your services, your website and the other people who work with you. Your logo and visual identity have very little to do with the real brand that represents your business.
This real brand is actually very difficult to control, mold and improve. The visual identity, on the other hand, is super easy to control, change and improve, which is why so many marketing people chose to believe this is branding. However, we think the real brand is much more important.
Look At Everything From Your Prospect’s Eyes
We actually don’t believe that it’s impossible to change your real brand. Yes, it might be hard and require more time to deliver real change, but if you apply inbound marketing thinking to branding, it’s something you have a lot of control over.
If you look at your business from your prospect’s eyes, you might see it in an entirely different light. For instance, when was the last time you called your office or your call center? When was the last time you filled out a form on your website? When was the last time you pretended to be a prospect to see how you were treated? No more than 30 days should go by before someone is checking the critical first experiences with your brand.
We do secret shopper research for every single new client, and it’s almost always disappointing news when we tell them our call was bounced around from message to message, that it took someone a week to get back to our email inquiry or that we felt the person on the phone was rude.
There are weak spots like this in all of our businesses. The secret is to experience-map the entire process from the time people hear about your business to their first visit to your website, through the call or email and at every single step in the sales process. It all needs to be as remarkable as possible. This is how you build your brand.
And, it doesn’t stop there. How you treat customers or clients is part of your brand. How you make them feel while you’re working with them is going to be a big part of the stories they tell about your business. Make sure you’re doing your best to delight as many clients as possible.
Think: Click To Close
Our focus is on getting new customers, so we’ll leave the delight part to the customer service experts. But, your potential customers’ experience starts when they land on your website. You have 10 seconds to emotionally connect with them, help them understand what you do and get them to feel like you might be able to help them. That’s 10 seconds to do all of that. It’s a challenge.
Assuming you can deliver those messages in 10 seconds and your new potential clients decide to stick around and look around, you have to get them to come out of the cloud and identify themselves to you. Everyone on the Web is cruising around anonymously. You want them to feel safe enough to give you their email addresses. This requires you take an educational approach to marketing and provide as much information as possible.
You need material for people at the awareness stage, consideration stage and decision-making stage. Everybody coming to your site has their own unique buyer journey, and you need to accommodate as many of them as possible if you want leads from your website. To make a point: If you only have a Contact Us page on your site, you’re telling visitors that you only care about them if they’re ready to talk to you right now. That alienates 90% of your visitors. Not good.
Once they do convert, they’re probably not ready to buy yet. You have to continue to nurture them, educate them and try to help them for as long as THEIR buyer journey requires it. Today’s buyers are in control. Stop fighting that and start supporting it. Lead nurturing, educational emails, invites to events, educational blog articles, how-to videos and other forms of information all help nurture your prospects.
If you do this well, they’ll eventually be ready to buy, and when they are, they’ll let you know. This is where most people blow it. They start applying their old “always be closing” sales process to people who don’t want to be sold to. This sends prospects underground and probably off to find other options. Instead, continue the educational process with an inbound sales approach that positions your sales team as advisors, coaches or guides.
Now, instead of selling, your team is guiding your prospects through a process designed to help them make a safe purchase decision. You’re emotionally connecting with them and you’re becoming their trusted advisor. They’re getting to know, like and trust you, and they’re feeling safe. The deal is yours.
Make sure your ENTIRE process is covered. If you send over a 20-page legal contract at the very end of the process, how would that make a prospect feel? Nervous? Yes, it would. They’re not a lawyer, there’s language in there that they don’t understand and now they need an attorney to look at it. Of course, the attorney wants to look smart so they find a bunch of things they’d like changed, and it’s back and forth for weeks. Why? Keep your paperwork as simple as possible and choose your words carefully. Contracts and proposals are scary; agreements are safe.
Consider what happens after someone signs. Is there a thank you? Is there celebration? Is there more that makes them feel like they made the right choice? Think this all through and continue their positive experience with you.
Try To Measure It
I know this is hard to measure, but there are ways to track how this work impacts your numbers. Sales cycle is one of the best metrics, as are close rate and referrals. Yes, you should be asking for referrals now, right after they sign. People love being right, and the more people they see have chosen you, the better your new customers feel. There’s strength in numbers, and if other people have liked you, your new customers must have been right. They’re going to want to refer you before you’ve even started working for them. Try it.
Looking at branding as more than your logo is going to help you apply strategic thinking to your business, and it’s going to improve the experience people have with your company. This is how marketing has a dramatic impact on business.
Start Today Tip – The best first step is to look at your click-to-close experience as it exists right now. Then you can go back and start applying some upgrades. Some of these can be delivered with marketing tactics like web and lead nurturing efforts, but others need to be delivered by the sales team. Benchmark your key metrics today. (How long is your sales cycle, and what is your close rate? How many referrals do you get from new clients?) Once you make changes, go back and see if those numbers have improved. This has a dramatic impact on your business.
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