Your customers aren’t going to buy from you unless they like and trust you. It’s that simple. If they don’t like you, they’ll look for alternatives. If they don’t trust you, they’ll never buy.
Even common consumer products like Coca-Cola, Tide and Heinz Ketchup have like and trust. Consumers identify with theses brands. They like what the products deliver, and they trust they’ll get a consistent experience. Even though these products are very accessible and easy to buy, the brands are the differentiating factor. Brands form a relationship that drives consumers to choose them over generic, low-cost options.
Like and trust are the building blocks of the buying process. The more complex a product or service, the more important like and trust becomes. But this is where a marketing disconnect arises. Most B2B marketing initiatives focus on creating awareness versus making the brand more likable and trustable.
Awareness doesn’t drive sales
It’s a myth that increasing brand awareness will increase sales. For example, 1,000 cold calls won’t generate 1,000 new customers. Customers don’t buy simply because they know your name.
During the Dotcom craze companies spent small fortunes on advertising with the hope that awareness would drive revenue. It didn’t. According to Kirk Cheyfitz in his book Thinking Inside the Box, Pets.com generated $619,000 in revenue in 2009, but spent $11.8 million on advertising. $1.2 million of that ad budget went to a Super Bowl commercial. All the awareness they created wasn’t enough to drive sales or save the business.
Awareness is still the number one go-to activity for marketing. Companies are investing to increase their search rank, or working to get thousands of followers in social media. They’re running radio and TV advertising spots, attending tradeshows, and trying to get media coverage through a publicist or PR firm. These activities are all very useful, but only after a strong brand foundation is laid.
Focus on the relationship
Brand awareness is important, but it’s irrelevant if your customers don’t like you and trust you.
You can manage and grow your client relationships in 3 ways:
1. Simple Clarity. Clear, concise communication builds credibility. When your customers clearly understand who you are and what you do, it helps them categorize you and know when to call on your expertise.
2. Be Generous. Take a genuine interest in your customers, as well as the broader community. How can you help them even when they’re not buying? We live in the digital age. It’s very easy to create and share valuable content. That’s a great starting point. Invest in giving back online, and then scale it to the real world.
3. Innovate and invest in your expertise. We live in a crowded world with a lot of choice. How is your brand different? How is it better? Your innovations and expertise are core assets of your business. Invest in them to not only better serve your customers, but to push your industry forward.
Awareness comes second
The biggest problem with driving awareness is your customers are skeptical. For the past 50 years companies have been bombarding the public with advertisements and promotions vying for their attention and money. People are reasonably skeptical.
Before investing in promoting your brand to the masses, make sure you have a strong brand foundation. If you aren’t promoting something of substance, it’s a waste. Focus your attention on making your brand more likable and trustable first, and then share those stories with the world.
What’s your take?