We’d like to welcome Justin Gray as a guest blogger in today’s post. He is the CEO and chief marketing evangelist at LeadMD. The company helps businesses generate and manage leads better through marketing automation processes and technologies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can use the fanciest of tools marketing automation has to offer (and most of you do), but if your brand isn’t being showcased as a part of your messaging, you’re missing the mark. The question then becomes, how do you tell a story that speaks to buyers but also conveys what your brand’s personality really is? Look around at some of the companies who are marketing to you. Likely there are some you identify with that have a strong sense of who they are, while others, not so much. Recently we saw an interesting battle of brands – Apple vs. Samsung. Now that battle had nothing to do with public opinion, but as the two squared off you could certainly see the contrast between the two organizations. Apple markets its products under the umbrella of its brands perception – and wins because of it. Samsung, well, I simply don’t know what that perception is as they haven’t communicated their brand story quite as well. How buyers see your organization matters, and for that reason we still have to consider brand – even in modern day conversational marketing.
Here are some tips for keeping the brand alive through marketing automation:
Gain trust–make customers a part of your story
At the start of conveying your brand’s story is one little word that packs a powerful punch – trust. Painting your company’s picture to your customers and prospects is the key to both winning more business and retaining the business you already have. In order to get your message securely in the hearts (or at least the minds) of your customers, you must gain their trust – the old-fashioned way.
Do this by giving your buyers something they want, regardless of what they will or will not do in return. In b2b marketing, we label this simply as “education” but it’s actually critical to espousing your brand. Once they see a repeated effort from you with no strings attached, trust will be planted. And with each outbound communication in this bucket, trust will grow. One way we use marketing automation is to establish trust through education by telling the stories of our customers. Those stories don’t have to be dry case studies – they can be short videos or profiles, whimsical and often comical insights into how our services impact marketers’ lives. We’ve had marriage proposals based on the satisfaction around service rendered – that says a lot about our culture. This allows for your prospects to glean an important piece of your brand’s story – its culture – as well as begin the process of giving you their trust.
The more you use your marketing automation to outreach in this way, the more your prospects will feel part of your story and connected to your brand.
Share your best story
As with any good story, your brand’s biography probably has an exciting moment or a turning point that, when told, elicits an emotional response. You’re probably great at sharing this in a sales pitch or even on the website, but have you thought about using your marketing automation software to share the story? For that matter, using it to share every major milestone you reach? When Marketo hit 1000 customers – we all knew it. The way you share your successes is often more important than the success itself. If you think issuing a press release is going to stand alone in painting a picture of who you are – think again.
These “rah-rah” moments give your company yet another chance to use marketing automation to help perpetuate the essence of your brand. Here’s an example. If you’re up to date with your buyer personas and you have customers or prospects interested in philanthropic endeavors, shine a spotlight on your annual charity event and weave that story into communications with those individuals.
If you’re one of the many marketers who aren’t totally familiar with building buyer personas you’re in luck. LeadMD has created a worksheet to guide you through setting these up. Start with this, and then begin custom-tailoring the story you tell through automation channels to resonate with these customers. By the way, one of the key ways we’ve built trust over the years is giving items like this away – it goes a long way in defining who we are as a company. There’s that brand again.
Envision the end
When sharing your brand’s story, you don’t necessarily want to come to an end. Ideally, your company or products will be living on for many more successful years to come. However, envisioning the end is key to telling your story and making it count. Just like you forecast with financials, try forecasting your story. Ask yourself some of those cheesy job interview questions, but in relation to your business. Where do you see your company in five years? Shaping your brand’s story through the long-term vision will allow you to mold that into engaging content for your marketing automation channels. For instance, if you’re developing a new version of your product, start a marketing campaign with sneak peeks of new features given out to garner excitement from your prospects. Then, utilize campaign analytics to gauge the marketplace interest in those blips and track prospects. Beginning with the end in mind will allow you to target your ultimate goals, be clear where your story is headed, and pass that on through marketing automation to the people it needs to get to.
How you package and present your company is as important as the product or service you offer. Hand in hand with the brand itself – user experience, culture, tone & messaging –are all part of your brand’s story. This is what got you to where you are, why you do what you do, and where you’re going. This story is essential to your brand’s success, and can be delivered through carefully selected outbound and inbound marketing channels to ensure your audience consumes it exactly how you want them to. You are sure to maximize your marketing automation strategy this way and create more loyal customers by bringing them along the journey of your brand’s story – and there’s no better time than while it’s still being written.