StrategyB2BBrand positioning: the cornerstone for B2B experiential brands

Brand positioning: the cornerstone for B2B experiential brands

Explore the pillars and key questions for creating a stellar B2B brand experience

30-second summary:

  • Brand values need to be seeded into your business activities to win trust and build a strong brand positioning
  • Your stakeholders, including your employees, customers, prospects, and shareholders are the heroes of your B2B experiential brand
  • CFA Institute’s CMO and Managing Director draws from his experience of developing brand positioning and corporate marketing strategies

Strong brand positioning can have a tremendous impact on the long-term success of your business. Getting this right can be hard, but it’s crucial to becoming an experiential brand.

Many people believe the best experiential brands are consumer brands like Apple and BMW. Apple knows how to connect with their customers across a wide range of channels while BMW has become synonymous with the ultimate driving experience. However, I would argue that B2B companies that embed their brand essence into every marketing and communications touchpoint have the power to become experience brands with greater customer loyalty and more profitable business results.

Back in 2015, I shared an article on LinkedIn, ‘Building a B2B experience brand across all marketing touchpoints‘. I put forth the idea that positioning your B2B company as an experiential brand comes down to incorporating your brand values into every single interaction with your stakeholders, including your employees, customers, prospects, and shareholders.

The four keys of stellar B2B experiential brands

To create the perfect harmony, there are many notes that you as a business leader need to hit right. But this isn’t possible without organic involvement from your employees and customers. Here’s a bird’s eye view of what will bolster your brand positioning:

1. Employees as brand ambassadors

Enlist employees as brand ambassadors to ensure they understand the B2B brand promise and how that is realized in the company’s vision, culture, and day-to-day behavior.

2. Use passive engagement to meet and educate your customers on their favorite channel

Enable customers and prospects to learn about a company’s products, services, and capabilities via the channels they like to use. How customers learn about what you have to offer can’t be a passive experience on your part. B2B marketers need to be vigilant about how the “experience” is for your customers when they interact with your brand.

3. Use engagement to build an experience into the whole customer journey

Engage customers and prospects before, during, and after the sale. Even though technical or customer support may not report into marketing, B2B marketers need to act as though it does and interact with these groups who embody critical customer interaction points on a regular basis. Ongoing customer satisfaction with the “experience” of interacting with your company is a key driver of not only ongoing loyalty but in delivering referrals of new customers.

4. Empower all stakeholders via digital media platforms

Empower all stakeholders to interact with your company and brand via today’s “water coolers” – social media and mobile platforms – via a digital experience that’s intuitive, easy and promotes an ongoing dialogue between your company and other customers and prospects.

Dynamic markets require positioning adjustment

Today’s markets are in flux and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this shift for many businesses. While B2B marketers often spend time focusing on brand positioning within the current market, it’s equally important to reassess your brand positioning as the market changes and new competitors enter. Positioning needs to last in an ever-changing environment to preserve its relevancy and connection with the people who matter most to your success.

Three key questions that coin an experiential brand

As you evaluate your current positioning and look to the future, it’s wise to ask the following questions about your brand:

1. Is your brand positioned to compete?

Do you have a strong understanding of the people who matter most to your success? Before you consider whether you need to adjust your positioning look to your competition. Who do your target audiences compare your brand with and how are you standing out? This is a great exercise to position your brand against emerging competitors.

2. Does your brand stand apart?

Your brand positioning should provide an understandable, identifiable, meaningful, and long-lasting picture of your brand. This is what truly differentiates you from your competitors. Take some time to map out these factors and determine whether they’ve changed within the market. What do your target markets and internal teams recognize as your key difference today? Is it a sustainable differentiating factor? Make sure you work to own the space that could set you apart and continue to update your positioning accordingly.

3. Is your brand positioned well for the future?

Brand positioning is a powerful tool for setting your business up to thrive. It will help drive growth and build resiliency to endure shifts in the market. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your positioning maximizes the relevance of how and why your company matters, especially to the people who will sustain its growth and profitability. We’re living in an overcrowded marketplace so focusing on differentiating yourself to stand out is crucial for long-term growth.

The bottom line

Brand positioning takes time but pays off well. Focusing on this now will help you uncover a meaningful spade in the hearts of your customers, who ultimately hold the key to your brand’s enduring success. As you think about your ongoing or future marketing activities, don’t miss out on leveraging what you’re already doing to extend your central marketing and brand ideas into compelling conversations at every touchpoint. When you’re able to achieve this, you will be well on your way to becoming a true B2B experience brand.

Michael Collins is CMO and Managing Director of CFA Institute.

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