Branding On The Web Is Like Mining For Fools Gold!
I am sick and tired of marketing geeks touting the beauty of branding, brand building and just spouting branding in any context, especially when the term is used with ""internet"" or ""web"" or ""digital!"" You can't have a conversation today for more than five minutes without some marketing type throwing in a line about brand building!
Branding doesn't work with the net's warp speed - look at some of the leading online brand builders, including a certain big three TV network here in the states and a book seller in Seattle trying to do classic brand extension, from books to barbecues.
We tell our B2B clients to build a revenue-producing online brand by developing a campaign that sells the value of their goods or services! Forget the esoteric, very expensive brand building campaigns that have no measurable impact! Here are my ten ""cliff notes"" to building an effective B2B Brand Online, B2C coming next article.
1. Do a careful Competitive Web Analysis of your competitors - you can't build a unique brand without knowing the lay of the digital and real-world land! The beauty of the web is that it is a 247/365 resource for analysis and you can find out quite a lot from your competitor's web sites. We've created a comprehensive matrix of 75-200 items to assess when preparing a competitive analysis report for a client.
2. Identify your target audience early on as everything flows from this. You can't conceptualize your creative, graphical imagery, content or what type of online media you want to deploy until you know the size and characteristics of your target audience.
3. Think revenue producing branding - this translates to marketing campaigns that deliver sales (the goal of all good marketing campaigns) by customer acquisition. Meaning, develop messages that speak to your audience. B2B customers typically want referenceable data that addresses their needs. ""Our xyz services help you leverage your IT resources by?."" Think providing tactical information to enhance their decision-making!
4. If your early to market or just plain old early stage then you may want to develop some branding with other complementary partners who have established names (brands) in your market segment. This can include joint announcements, co-branded pages; direct marketing or opt-in e-mail pieces, etc. Here's an example of a co-branded page we did for an existing client, PolyServe, Inc. http://www.polyserve.com/partners.html
5. Make sure you PR agency and Interactive or Traditional Agency are all in concert when it comes to building a branding campaign. Your various messages and processes should be mutually reinforcing.
6. Select an Interactive or Traditional Agency that understands your unique B2B needs. Consumer branding is much different than B2B Customer Acquisition Branding. By ""understand"" I mean ask them about the types of campaigns they've set up for previous clients, what types of media they've used, do they know how to develop creative that speaks to a potential B2B client - I love the ""do the Dew"" campaign, but this isn't the type of branding you would want to deploy for an IT Manager who is contemplating a purchase of your software.
7. How do you measure effective branding on the web? I am not sure if I have any answer or if I have unlimited answers - this is such a difficult marketing characteristic to measure. But, again, be ""customer-centric"" - ask people who purchase your software or services what they think. Why did you purchase (or why not if you can), did our marketing address your needs, was it meaningful and informative?
8. Think digital shelf life when branding on the web - you have to build messages and content that will only last for a finite amount of time. You have to continually refresh your branding and positioning by developing new content for a web site, opt-in e-mail or banner advertising campaign.
9. Incorporate your offline branding (creative, content, graphics, etc.) into your online branding when/where you can. So your customer has a sense of continuity when they review all of your marketing and communications processes. This also sends a signal to them that you have carefully thought through your overall campaign.
10. Last but not least - build net speed into your overall campaign. I've said it before in many articles, but always essential to underscore; better to be quick to market with something that may need slight calibration later on that to delay a facet of a campaign of the entire campaign to get everything perfect! Revenue is the engine that makes a B2B Branding campaign work and you can't drive sales unless you are putting your branding message out there in front of your potential customers!
About the Author: Lee Traupel has 20 plus years of marketing experience. He is the co-founder of a Northern California and Brussels Belgium based, privately held, Marketing Services and Software Company, Intelective Communications, Inc., http://www.intelective.com. Intelective focuses exclusively on providing services to small-to-medium-sized companies that need strategic and tactical marketing services. He can be reached at Lee@intelective.com.