Part 4 in the Perfect Prospect Model Series
This series is based on a concept of measuring customer value as a means of identifying and focusing on your BEST customers (and then using that knowledge to pursue the PERFECT prospects).
Virtually every website and marketing piece showcases an impressive list of customers. Shiny logos, big brand names, quotes from executives and more. We certainly love to share our customers in hopes of getting new prospects but how valuable is it and what should we watch out for?
Having spent a couple weeks writing about getting and keeping money from our best customers, it’s time to start focusing on how our customers can aid us in generating MORE revenue by helping us to market. I’ll be focusing on more active customer-assisted marketing next week but today I wanted to start with the power and value of our customers’ BRAND.
Clearly, corporate brand value is going to be more relevant in a B2B environment and that's my focus in this article. (In B2C to there is celebrity brand association because who wouldn’t want to wear the same clothes as Justin Bieber?! But that’s not my focus in this series so we’ll save that for another day).
HOW CUSTOMER BRAND IS VALUABLE TO PROSPECTS
Quite simply, showcasing our highly recognizable customers’ brands can have powerful when these three concepts are true.
RECOGNITION: The more recognizable a brand is to your prospect, the more powerful a role it will play in their decision making.
SOCIAL PROOF: From a prospect's perspective, there is safety in knowing that if Google (or insert other brand name) is one of your customers, you must be good. There is an assumption that “Big Brand Name” did their due diligence (probably even more due diligence than they would do themselves) and chose you, therefore it’s a safe bet.
DESIRED ASSOCIATION: Even better is when that brand has a strong association value to a prospect. An up and coming tech company might find it very compelling to appear on a list of customers alongside the likes of an Atlassian, Google or Apple.
PITFALLS OF CUSTOMER BRAND
As we round up all our amazing customer logos for display there are some things that we need to be cautious of – things that can degrade the value of using customer brands in our marketing efforts.
PERMISSION: As a B2B salesperson and marketer for the last 20 years, few things are more frustrating than having that perfect brand on the books but not being allowed to use it in marketing. The value of a customer's brand is critically dependent on whether we can share it. There are, of course, various levels of sharing: use of a logo in marketing; pre-approved use of a logo in specific marketing collateral, you can say our name but not use our logo, etc. To get value from customer brand names, start by getting permission!
NEGATIVE CUSTOMER ASSOCIATION: While desired association can be powerful, the opposite is also true. A cool, hip start-up might not want to be associated with that long-established, old school traditional company. If you have multiple target markets or goals then the value of a customer’s brand could be different in each scenario (more on that in the future). The key, then, is to make sure you are showcasing brands that will appeal to your perfect prospect.
NEGATIVE COMPANY ASSOCIATION: When you tie yourself to a customer’s brand there's always a risk (albeit slight) that if their brand becomes tarnished, you might suffer by association. To decrease your risk, ensure that you have enough valuable brands in your portfolio and aren’t overly reliant on one or two.
In a recent conversation, I was discussing the value of customer brands and was asked what could actually be done with this information (or any of the value factors). Here is the short answer to that question:
Know what’s valuable to your business so that you can get more of it.
If customer brand names are an important and valuable part of your marketing and sales strategy, what could you do to get more of them? Could you change the default terms of your contracts to assume permission unless otherwise stated? Could you offer incentives for the use of their brand? Would the customer be more likely to showcase their brand with you if they were included as a partner in your development?
There are lots of ways to get what your business needs but you first must know that you need it. Valuable brands are one of the many pieces in the customer value model.
Tune in next week for the fifth article in this series: Shouting from the Rooftops: The Value of Leveraging Customers in Marketing
Julie Holmes is a sales & marketing advisor, speaker and Whole Company Selling leader. She works with B2B companies that want to sell more and increase their customer lifetime value by helping everyone in their organization understand and share their value with prospects and customers.