By Lori Reifert, Director at BrandJuice
When it comes to quantifying and measuring brand health, most B to B marketers would point to a stack of customer satisfaction surveys or their Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a gauge of performance. But building strong customer engagement is so much more than just what you capture on a satisfaction survey.
To truly win in the marketplace and separate from the competition, B to B marketers must harness the power of emotional engagement with customers, like their most successful B to C counterparts have done.
Here are five questions to ask yourself to qualitatively assess your brand’s emotional engagement and direct your future marketing initiative investments.
1. Would customers say you sell a product or an experience?
While it’s certainly not a new concept, the brands that truly separate themselves in any category are those that go beyond the specific need their product fills to consider the broader context of the usage experience for their customers, to solve challenges effectively and seamlessly.
Slack sets a gold standard when it comes to positioning themselves as an experience company. Their value proposition very distinctively mentions nothing about how their product works. Instead, it focuses on where it’s used and why it matters.
“Slack is a collaboration hub, where the right people and the right information come together, helping everyone get work done.”
2. Are you keeping a constant pulse on the external narrative of your brand?
An annual survey or brand tracking study is important, but it doesn’t tell the whole story, and it certainly doesn’t give you an opportunity to respond and pivot your messaging based on customer reactions. Consider ways to go deeper, through social listening, sentiment coding, and 1:1 qualitative interviews with trusted customers and prime prospects. Listening between the lines to the narrative being formed about your company in distribution networks or customer trade groups is critical to sustaining deeper engagement.
3. Do you focus on selling features or on addressing your customers’ fears?
Making your sales pitch a laundry list of your product’s features is a sure way to disengage a potential customer and reduce their purchase decision to the lowest common denominator: price for value of product. Continually asking yourself “Why should they care? Why would I care about this? How does it make them more successful in their job?” can help you up-level your thinking to focus on the most critical fears and anxieties your customers face, and how your company is uniquely positioned to help.
A great approach is to map each feature of your product or service to a distinctive advantage it can provide, and then create an emotional narrative for it.
4. Are you actively communicating your company values?
Every company has a set of values and core principles that guide it—but it can be difficult to know how to communicate them authentically to customers, especially in a B to B setting. However, finding a way to speak to a shared set of values with your customer can be an incredibly effective way to build trust and lasting loyalty.
Fruitful Office, an office delivery company based in the UK, utilized B to C values-based marketing through a program of planting fruit trees in Malawi for every fruit basket clients ordered. This simple tactic communicates an ethos of altruism and might make the difference when all other factors are equal in a purchase decision.
5. Do you approach your customer interactions as transactional, or relational?
Transactions are about dollars and cents. They engage the rational part of the brain, and they’re quickly forgotten and moved on from once the transaction is complete. But relational customer interactions, those that focus on identifying and solving for long-term needs, can be exponentially more valuable to the health of your brand image. In times of pressure for ROI and increased revenue, customers will quickly be able to differentiate a relationship-driven brand from competitors.
Could your B to B brand be doing a better job of creating stronger emotional connections with its customers? Let’s talk!