There are a lot of articles out there pertaining to B2C marketing. And B2C is what we think of as “traditional” ways to reach an audience. Watch a TV commercial, learn about a product, buy product, etc.
Marketing in the B2B world can be a bit trickier; maybe even a harder “sell” if you will.
B2B marketing models vary drastically depending on what industry you are in, especially with companies that specialize in providing custom solutions for their customers, such as one of the firms that I represent, DuFresne Manufacturing, a custom manufacturing company in Minnesota. Being that we are a custom shop, we don’t have any one particular product line; we offer the service of making something per our customers specifications on discreet builds. We truly are a custom business. So what do we use as a way to market ourselves – to stand out – among the other custom sheet metal companies out there?
Brand as a differentiator
Every new contract we get at DuFresne is for a custom build. We choose to market ourselves differently depending on if we’re prospecting new customers or providing information to our existing customers. Existing customers know what we have to offer – they lived it. New customers are more skeptical and tend to throw us the “so what?” question.
In other words, our company’s job is to cut past this: “Oh, you’re just another sheet metal company wanting to make my parts.”
And provide a solid answer to this: “So what makes you guys better than the other guy?”
How do we do it? Advertising? Too costly. Trade shows? Not high enough ROI. Pay-per-click? Not right for the cost. How about Brand? Yes.
Brand is our differentiator. Brand is how we can build value for our customers – for your customers. We stick by our brand and build it up through our sales channels, customer referrals and social media.
We answer the “so what” question with our brand.
Brand value and culture
What is your brand’s value? What is your culture? Are you friendly? Do you share information freely or are you more of a closed book? If customers are able to find value in not only the services and products you provide, but also in your company on the whole, they’ll engage. And, they may even be willing to pay more than the companies those same customers perceive as having less value or a culture that isn’t in line with their own values.
If customers can see, or even be part of your brand’s culture, you’ve given them a connection; something they can engage with. Your customer service, the quality of your products, the way you interact online – these are all a part of your brand’s culture; it can set you apart from your competition.
How do we market culture?
First, get your brand ambassadors on board. These are the people on your sales team, your marketing department, the C-suite, your best customers, the clients you’ve been dealing with since you first opened your doors. These are the people who will go to bat for you and tell your story. Do they understand what makes your company great? Keep the lines of communication open and provide them with insight on what’s new, what’s coming, what’s changed.
Social media is another great tool when it comes to marketing culture; it’s the new version of word-of-mouth marketing. Social media is a two-way street. It’s more than one-way promotion; you’re able to tell your brand’s story (share your culture) all while having conversations with your stakeholders and tapping in to their interests. At DuFresne, we use social media to share information about what makes us different, the innovative projects we’re working on and pictures of events and products.
We want customers to see everything from our charitable contributions to our manufacturing processes – all of this speaks to our brand’s culture and who we are. For us, we are marketing our full brand, not just our products and service.
How about you? How are you using your company’s brand as a differentiator when it comes to B2B marketing?