7 Reasons Why Brand Strategy is Essential for Effective Demand Generation
Posted on August 21, 2014
I regret to say that over the years I’ve worked in/with Marketing organizations that have operated in silos such that Brand Strategy/Management and Demand Generation were viewed as operating virtually on separate planets. Brand Management (it was thought) was involved in abstract research and positioning that was somehow removed from the daily “grunt work” of having to generate qualified leads to feed the Sales organization. The Demand Generation team viewed themselves as “doing the real marketing” while Brand Management and Marketing Communication were – well you know. In some cases it created a bit of friction, in other cases neither organization really understood what the other was doing.
As I’ve spent the past two years working with technology companies of various size ($15M to $100B in annual revenue), one thing seems to surface over and over: the thirst for quick-fix demand generation tips without a solid grasp on why buyers should choose the brand. Answering the question of “Why Choose [insert brand name]?” is essential and I’m continue to be surprised by how few brands can answer the question. I have seen Powerpoint presentations with slides titles “Unique Selling (Value) Proposition” and then list 6-8 selling points as if the brand were afraid to stand tall on a single, compelling USP. In fact, I find it to be surprising how few senior marketing executives can articulate the four elements of a brand positioning statement (target, frame of reference, USP, reasons to believe) let alone define them for their brand. And I believe this to be the single most important reason why there are so many parity products, undifferentiated advertising messages, and customers willing to switch brands.
Here are my 7 reasons why brand strategy is essential for effective demand generation:
- Establishing clear brand architecture means you can communicate how products relate to each other across your portfolio to create solutions so your buyers don’t have to try to figure it out (this also drives sales and delivery organization structure)
- Establishing your (positioning) target market(s) determines who you want to attract as customer (provides focus for Marketing for prioritizing its manpower, budgets and campaign efforts as you can’t effectively “market to everyone”)
- Establishing your (positioning) frame of reference enables buyers to understand what business you are in (product/service category) and what you business you are not (guides product development, channel partnerships, investment, competitive comparison, etc.)
- Defining your (positioning) USP helps buyers understand why they should choose your brand over your competitors (in the absence of clear and compelling differentiation buyers retreat to selecting vendors based on lowest price)
- Defining your (positioning) reasons to believe lends credibility to your USP claim and offers proof points for both Marketing and Sales to use in dialog with buyers and customers (without this “ammunition” to backup your USP truth claim, you have nothing but hollow claims)
- Defining brand positioning helps Marketing ensure they are delivering the right message to the right audiences in the right channels (essential for properly aligning content creation, campaign messaging, thought leadership efforts, social/Influencer programs, etc.)
- Defining brand positioning helps Sales more clearly articulate their value proposition vis-à-vis competitors and avoid competing purely on price (since buyers are up to 70% through the buying cycle before contacting your Sales channels, you have fewer interactions to communicate your value proposition – make every interaction count by getting to the point)
I routinely have conversations with executives seeking marketing strategies to deliver exceptional sales results, yet they lack an exceptional product, service or customer experience as a starting point. That leaves their Demand Generation teams trying to deliver qualified lead pipelines to nervous sales leaders without a clearly narrative of how their products form solutions, who should care, and why buyers should buy from the brand. In other words, the Marketing team has got nothing to work with in terms of a differentiated message.
Demand marketing can only connect the brand to buyers. Conversion happens when buyers become convinced your brand is the best option for solving their problem or meeting their needs.
Is your brand positioning clear and relevant to you target?