How focusing on brand value creates revenue growth
Marketers often find themselves torn between meeting short-term sales goals and fostering long-term value. Contributor Scott Vaughan explains how to bring these two objectives together.
Marketers, you know the struggle. Your execs ask every day (despite having access to dashboards): “How’s the pipeline accelerating?” And, in the next meeting: “What are we doing to deliver great customer experiences?” (because they read a Harvard Business Review article on the importance of customer experience last night on the plane).
These dual, sometimes opposing, goals can frustrate the heck out of marketing teams. Worse, they can create an unproductive, rudderless marketing organization that becomes ineffective at both.
Over the last few years, B2B marketing’s mandate has clearly shifted from a primary focus on brand to delivering on lead, pipeline and revenue quotas. These growth expectations continue to rise as marketing, working in tandem with their sales and customer success colleagues, think through how to apply more precise strategies that drive more profitable revenue and relationships.
At the same time, increasingly finicky prospects and customers are demanding our organizations do business with them on their terms — authentically and transparently. Marketing’s charter in this area is to identify every touch point and design the right experiences. Customers want brands to know them, but they don’t want you to have or use their data. What? How does that work? More frustration.
Marketers know we need to be good at both brand experiences and contributing to revenue. So, how do we optimize our efforts against these already big goals?
My experience has taught me the value of infusing your brand promise, company values and authentic communications into each aspect of the customer experience and revenue generation process. This means, for example, applying it to your website, content, email communications, landing pages and less traditional marketing-led elements such as employee training, customer/prospect response and contract language. All should be infused with your brand experience.
Here are a few key brand-experience focus areas to ensure your marketing team (and the entire organization) is contributing to generating new revenue, expanding relationships with existing customers and delivering on the company’s growth requirements.
Figure out first your ‘why’ and mission
Marketing has an opportunity to lead the conversation on developing the company mission, brand values and culture. These collective elements help employees understand what the company stands for, what’s important and what to do/build/communicate. Each employee can then more naturally infuse these company characteristics into every activity they do, creating better experiences, more engagement and ultimately more opportunities to do more business.
The old adage of “Happy employees create happy customers” can translate directly into revenue. We tend to think this applies to consumer areas like retail, online commerce and the restaurant industry, but it also applies to B2B customer relationships, too.
At my company, for example, we have onboarded nearly 50 new employees this year. Without a focus on the brand attributes and experiences that made us successful, our growth trajectory will be impacted.
Apply trust-based marketing in everything you do
We’re in an era where data privacy is a big deal. New regulations are being put in place to protect consumers. It’s the perfect opportunity to act and turn a potentially negative thing into a positive by adapting how you interact with prospects and customers.
Don’t wait for legal restrictions and laws to be passed. Implement and adopt a trust-based approach in every aspect of your sales, marketing and customer communications. For example, ask for permission to communicate (e.g., use opt-ins), let prospects and customers know up front what you will and won’t do with their data and be clear on what types of privacy protection you have in place.
Yeah, your database may be smaller in size with this approach, but it will be comprised of customers and prospects with genuine interest and more trust. This authentic approach and “quality over quantity” strategy enhances your ability to spend your resources on prospects and customers that have the best potential versus those with little to no interest. And it’s simply easier to be authentic.
Another example around trust comes into play on pricing. Barriers to business quickly dissolve when you’re upfront about how your pricing and discounting works and the costs behind them. We all know the negotiation dance, and the bottom line is that we all want to get a fair deal. Transparent pricing allows you to focus on the value and mutual benefits created for both parties — the real revenue opportunity.
These examples of upfront, direct approaches are respected by your prospective buyers and your existing customers. Expanding these positive, productive relationships leads directly to more revenue opportunity, often with fewer hurdles.
Get direct feedback from your community
If you don’t know what your company stands for, feels like or how it’s perceived, ask your customers, partners and employees regularly. Asking for feedback on what they expect from you (your company, products, services, support and so on) will help you stay in tune with the constituencies that drive your business.
And the more they’re involved in shaping your company, the more loyal they’re likely to be. This includes two vital parts of the revenue generation process: (1) expansion (cross-sell, upsell, renewal) of the amount of business they do with you, increasing their lifetime value; and (2) creating advocates and references that give new customers confidence in buying from and doing business with you.
Commit to value-based sales and marketing
One of the best things I ever adopted in my sales and marketing career I learned in elementary school: You “give to get.” My mentor used to say, “If you make deposits first, you will be able to take more withdrawals later.” I can see the eyes roll now on this idea from a different era. But it works if practiced authentically and consistently. Obviously, your company and professional motives need to come from the right place.
An excellent example I see every day is how marketing and sales create and share content. Educational content that provides unbiased value and frames their options helps buyers better understand the whole picture of getting their needs addressed.
This approach builds credibility. Organizations and teams are much more likely to do business with organizations they trust. Developing content that helps them do their job, understand the landscape and make a thoughtful business case are all examples where delivering a high-quality brand experience creates more customers and naturally leads to revenue growth.
While brand experiences and revenue generation can be conflicting priorities at times, now is the time to double down on committing to infusing your brand into every aspect of marketing and communications, including revenue generation. Applying this mid- to long-term mindset will help drive company growth as satisfied employees and customers create more revenue opportunities.