The Marketing Refresh team had the opportunity to hear from several marketing, search, and branding leaders at the 2018 Interactive Strategies Conference presented by the Houston Interactive Marketing Association (HIMA).
One of those speakers was our very own Director of Account Strategy, Katy Katz, who offered seven important marketing hacks for businesses (without having to be a hacker!).
After listening to the ideas and insight from several speakers, I came to a fork in the road as it relates to how much emphasis companies should place on their brand when serving customers along the buyer’s journey.
On the one hand, there is data that says companies should heavily emphasize their brand to remain top-of-mind with customers. On the other hand, the principle of the buyer’s journey is that your company is the helper — not the hero — in the story. After all, when you do buy a movie ticket because you’re excited to see the helper provide fantastic help to the hero?
It’s a conundrum for marketers and companies that want to engage their audience at each stage of the buyer’s journey without making the journey about themselves. Yet, they also want to be remembered as the source of the help. Hey, over here, remember to come back to us at the next stage of your journey or the next time you need a solution for your problem!
The question is: How do you remain top-of-mind without Bogarting your customer’s journey? There is one word that I want to unpack after contemplating this issue during the conference: value.
Left Side of the Problem: Your Buyer’s Journey
We often remind clients at the start of a working relationship or even during our marketing programs that the person buying your solution is the hero of the transaction.
Your job is to guide the customer or prospect through the process of arriving at a decision to make a purchase by offering guidance through website content, blogs, email, social media, case studies, testimonials, video tutorials, eBooks, and other forms of content marketing to help make the best decision.
There is a temptation to make this journey all about your brand. The wrong approach is plastering your brand across every piece of content the prospect or customer encounters along the way or stressing your brand above the problem you are trying to solve for your customer.
Conversely, I’m not advocating completely downplaying your brand to where your prospect has no idea who actually provided the help and couldn’t pick out your company from a line-up of competitors when it’s time to make the actual purchasing decision.
There is a middle ground where your company makes the optimal connection with your target audience and reinforces … wait for it … the value you are providing at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
- Awareness stage: You are providing educational information to help your customer or prospect understand their problem.
- Consideration stage: You are providing comparative information about the benefits of the available solutions to help address their problem.
- Decision stage: You are providing specific information about your product or solution to help them decide to use your company to solve their problem.
If you approach your prospect or customer in the Awareness stage with a hard-sell about the great features of your product, they will instantly be turned off. They’re just not ready for that message.
However, if you take the time to provide basic-level information about their problem through a blog or social media post, you have the opportunity to reinforce the right message about your brand that you are a trusted advisor to guide your potential customer through the buyer’s journey.
Right Side of the Problem: Growing Technology Trends
One of the reasons why companies are tempted to over-emphasize their brand is because of a major technological shift.
One big stat presented by Shelly Fagin of SEMRush at the IS18 Conference is that 50 percent of all searches will be through voice by 2020. You might think that’s far-fetched or outrageous, but that statistic includes voice searches through virtual assistants like Alexa that sit in your home or even your office that you ask questions to get answers.
How does this affect your interaction with potential buyers? Imagine your prospect or customer asks Alexa a question such as “When should I trade in my truck?” Alexa is going to spit back an answer, but Alexa isn’t going to cite the source of the information, like you would see in a visible web or mobile search result. So, a prospective buyer at your car dealership is going to have no idea that your dealership provided an answer to their Awareness stage question of the right time to trade in their truck.
It sounds impossible to initiate your role as the helper in the buyer’s journey if your prospective buyer does not know who provided the initial help. And, it makes you want to plaster your name all over your content so that Alexa is forced to read your name in the voice result, right?
That’s not the best practice — and it will do more harm than good in the long run. Yet, companies are going to face this problem in the coming years of how to engage their audience without compromising their brand when the audience is spending less time performing traditional online searches.
How do you solve this problem? It’s all about value.
Solve the Branding Problem: Maximize the Value
As the world shifts to more voice searches where people may never see the source of information, it will become imperative to differentiate your company in such a way that every touchpoint with your audience captures the value you provide.
Every blog, every aspect of your website, every customer service experience, every email campaign, every eBook, every visual should reflect that value.
Here’s why this is important. What will likely happen is that your audience will find basic information through voice search in the Awareness stage. But, as they get deeper into the buyer’s journey needing to make a critical buying decision, they will likely take the time to sit down on their phone or computer to hunt for Consideration and Decision stage answers.
That’s where your company has an opportunity to reach the audience. Your prospect may not know that you provided help at the Awareness stage, but if you accurately convey your value in Consideration and Decision, then you can still come alongside as the trusted helper.
More so than ever before, you need to know the value that your company provides so that you can clearly and effectively communicate this value to your target audience.
When the value is clear, then your brand will become associated with the value, enhancing your reach throughout the buyer’s journey.
Our Agency is Equipped to Help You Solve These Problems
When listening to so many great speakers at conferences such as IS18, it’s easy to get swept up in the tactics, trends, and execution strategies. Sometimes, though, you have to take it back to the basics to solve hard problems.
Near the end of the conference, I circled a simple formula in my notes: “Marketing = Capture Value.” It’s that simple. What value do you provide to your customers, and how are you telling that story to your audience?
If you are unsure how to unlock your value or need support navigating the changing landscape of reaching your audience to help solve their problems, consider working with our agency.
The Marketing Refresh team is equipped to walk you through the process of understanding your value and then conveying that value to support your brand.
We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss how we can come alongside you to achieve higher search results and generate more leads to help your company grow. Contact us today!