Direct Selling: Personality Included
Brand is king in the realm of securing customers and creating loyalty, which can save your bottom line in this down economy. Brand goes far beyond logos and taglines—it lies within your customer’s perception of your product or service. Whether you are aware of it or managing it, every point of contact with the customer defines and reinforces your brand—from the way you answer the phones, to the appearance and manner of your sales force, to the cover of your catalog and the landing page of your Web site.
Your brand personality is how customers perceive you, for better or worse. It is just as important for B-to-B companies to manage that perception as it is for direct-to-consumer companies. In fact, it’s critical. A differentiated brand helps you stand out in an environment where often you are selling the same products and services as your competitors.
Over the years, many B-to-B marketers have gotten away with selling on great product and service alone, without truly managing the brand experience. How well does your company manage its brand? Do your customers’ perceptions match the personality you want them to see? How well do you manage these perceptions? Before you answer these questions, consider the following, and then grade yourself.
1. Remember you are selling to people, not businesses. In fact, instead of B-to-B, you should think of it as B-to-P (people). The invoice may be paid by a business account or company credit card, but a person makes the decision to buy from you. And while he isn’t buying for himself, he has motivations to consider. Who is he, how does he work and who does he answer to? One common mistake is not knowing who the individual is. Develop a profile of that person, and market directly to him. Use photography and benefit-oriented copy that answers the question, “What’s in it for me?” A company that sells tools for the human resources director should learn to speak directly to that position by telling him how the product offering makes the end user’s job easier.