The problem: Up to 95% of a B2B audience is not in the market to buy at any given time.
The impact: Since a lot of B2B brands are not deliberately reaching and priming these “out of market” folk to remember and prefer them when they do come to market on a long term and regular basis, a lot of money is being left on the table.
Simply because potential customers – rather than having a “go to” option come to mind when they have a need, look at a wide variety of options – compare offers, options…and pricing.
I’m not saying that coming to mind first will guarantee you a sale – or circumvent the buyer doing their research and due diligence – but it puts you in pole position for the buying process.
We have a bias towards believing that information and options that come to mind easily are “true” and “right” (this is known as the availability bias).
So, if your brand comes to mind first when your prospect is drawing up a shortlist, the likely associations to your brand would be positive.
What kind of advantage would it give you if you were the best known – or the only known, option in a pile of proposals being considered by a buying committee?
If you feel that you have a strong proposition but could be getting more leads, the leads you’re getting aren’t great quality and you’re not widely known in your market, these are symptoms that the 95% principle is hurting your brand.
The solution: For me, in short, a powerful and often overlooked solution to the 95% problem can be summed up in two words:
Brand fame goes beyond brand awareness. It’s when your brand is renowned for a “thing” and widely known.
Imagine if your brand had this kind of “fame”. What impact would it have on long term sales? That is, future demand – and for that matter, existing demand?
This fame would mean your brand had high levels of mental availability, which is the likelihood that your brand will come to mind in buying situations.
It would also mean that direct traffic and inbound leads are likely to go up, because a knock on effect of coming to mind first, means that you would be sought out. i.e. people who wanted to buy, would be specifically interested in buying from you.
So in regards to the 95% issue – as the masses of future buyers that are now out of market, transition to being “in market”, all of that work you had done, investing in brand fame, would be paying off.
And not just once – repeatedly over the long term.
This is why many see brand as the best way you can invest in your business. You create equity that in buying moments is “cashed in”.
But because it takes longer to build up than running lots of sales activation campaigns, most are put off it.
There’s also a preconception that building a brand is expensive – or even a waste of money, since there is no immediate return, like there is with a lot of direct response work.
But these opinions are not only wrong, they risk doing damage to the businesses in question by leaving a lot of money on the table – because they are losing out on future sales.
Fame, in context
To be clear, I’m not talking about the level of fame as a Guinness or Mastercard. If you’re an accountancy firm, IT firm or SaaS platform, such levels of fame aren’t necessary.
You just need to be famous within the context of your specific market or niche.
The opportunity is huge – not enough B2Bs are capitalising on this.
Where is the “go to” accountancy firm for SMEs?
If my business needs cyber security, why do I not have a brand pop into my mind when I think about this category?
Who are the obvious choices in these and many other niche areas?
There is no reason why it cannot be your brand.
The Principles behind creating brand fame for a “normal” business
You don’t need a multi million pound budget to create brand fame.
You don’t need to sponsor the Super Bowl to create brand fame.
You don’t need to be on the level of Nike, Coca Cola or Apple to create brand fame.
I’m going to talk through 3 of the most important principles behind creating brand fame, whatever niche you operate in and no matter what size your business is.
Principle 1 – Be known for something
Just as famous people are known for something in particular, so too must your brand be if you want fame.
One of the best ways to become known – and renowned is to either take a stand for something or against something.
To resonate with your audience, whatever you stand for or against should be aligned with your audience’s feelings about that particular thing.
This thing can be a person or organisation – but it can also be a value, belief or practice.
I’m not advocating picking fights or name calling – and there is a skill to doing this in an elegant and (crucially) genuine way.
It cannot be cynically manufactured.
Eg. Brewdog, when they were up and coming, they took aim at “rubbish beer”. This got the attention and approval of craft ale lovers – especially as they used humour to do this.
Principle 2 – Contrast
We cannot underestimate how insignificant our brands are in the context of the lives of our audience.
We can be tricked into thinking otherwise. We think about our own brands all the time.
Our audience does not.
Our audience has an entire landscape of “stuff” in their consciousness. Work. Family. Finances. Friends. The news. Dreams. Desires. Difficulties.
We are mere specks on the horizon of their lives.
So – to generate fame – we need regular attention and to take place in our audiences’ memory to build that position.
An effective way to do this is to contrast against the landscape of what they’re used to seeing.
I’m talking about visual contrast, the concepts of our ads or/and content – even our offering.
In behavioural economics, it’s known as the Von Restorff effect:
“….predicts that when multiple homogeneous stimuli are presented, the stimulus that differs from the rest is more likely to be remembered.”
Look at the image above – which are you most likely to notice and remember?
Principle 3 – Consistency
Brand fame is a long term investment project. You need to give it time. But it also needs consistent action.
You need consistency in several areas to create brand fame:
- Consistency with our stance for/against something
- Consistency with activity
- Consistency with reach
- Consistency with the contrast we create
Consistency. Consistency. Consistency.
It’s hard. But that’s why it’s such a big opportunity – because most brands will not do what is needed over the long term.
To sum up
There is no downside to brand fame. Any b2b brand can build it in their niche. It just takes a carefully thought out plan and long term action (hopefully you appreciate the irony in the title of this piece…!).
By doing this, you will be widely known by your audience, whether they are in market or out of market. This investment pays off – ultimately – with more sales and higher profits.
So, what’s stopping you?