Is Your Brand Messaging Driven by Your Values or Your Product?
As a newcomer to the tech industry, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the complexities and becoming familiar with the acronyms and tech-speak is like learning a new language.
Although each day still feels like a school day, in my approach as a marketer, when communicating the technical aspects such as object storage, workflow integrations, cloud vs. on-prem, and egress fees, the technical aspect, as well as the benefits and features, has to be communicated with our target audience in such a way that is understandable, relatable, and that it solves their problem.
To spark and ignite this interest and connection, how we speak to our customers becomes less about the product and more about building on a long-term relationship through your brand values. Who are we? Why are we here? Why is this important to us? Product is important, but establishing relationships based on our core brand values also plays a significant role, perhaps a more important one.
Gone are the traditional days of comms being focused on speeds, feeds, and services and basically trying to target anyone and everyone – swipe left, swipe right – you’ve got a match!
In a 2021 report published by Allison PR; Technology PR’s Tug of War: The Battle of Brand vs. Product, 77% of tech marketing, branding, and communications decision-makers worldwide – and across industries – believe in the power of authentic, brand-first storytelling to showcase a company’s value, purpose, and mission.
Even more (88%) also believe their C-suite understands the value. To quote one respondent: “Brand authenticity, in my opinion, is no longer an option for companies looking to stay ahead of the competition.”
But the data shows belief is not the same as reality. Only 58% of respondents say their company truly prioritises brand-focused campaigns, admitting to internal challenges standing in the way.
This is where sales and marketing play a key role in working together rather than against one another. During this report, when it came to working with sales, the priorities shifted. The high degree of enthusiasm to capture customer attention through more authentic storylines fell to the back burner. One out of four decision-makers admitted to sales pushing a product-only approach to influence customers.
While the finding itself is not a revelation, what confounded these respondents is that sales sits in the marketing driver’s seat, even though the majority of decision-makers (55%) agreed one of the most appealing benefits of telling more authentic brand stories is, in fact, the increase in sales.
This is very relatable; in my own experience as a marketer I have always found there to be a level of unspoken uncertainty over who is leading who. Are you a sales-led organisation or a marketing-led organization? As marketers, our role is to support the delivery of the business strategy, and define how this can be achieved.
The CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) says “Every product we buy, every store we visit, every media message we receive and every choice we make in our consumer society has been shaped by the forces of marketing.”
Going back to the Allison PR; Technology PR’s Tug of War report, findings showed C-Suite understood the value of brand-led storytelling, with 65% of CMOs globally most likely to say their company prioritizes brand-related marketing and PR campaigns. Yet, two out of five of all other decision-makers confessed C-suite continues to prioritise product or product feature-focused announcements over everything else.
What’s more, 42% said current marketing and PR campaigns remained largely product-driven. This is despite nearly half of decision-makers saying customers in their industry thought the overarching brand, values, and purpose were more important than products or product features.
B2B and consumer tech decision-makers know that telling more authentic brand-first stories will pay off in spades for the company. Nearly 72% of all respondents boldly said their customers make more purchasing decisions based on the overall strength of the brand, its mission, and its values than they did three years ago.
The safe assumption here is technology’s critical role during the COVID-19 pandemic certainly factored into this shift in thinking, as has the purpose-driven, more emotive approach consumer brands have spotlighted over the past decade. In the words of one respondent: “My company believes that fostering consumer’s trust and loyalty is key, and nothing else is needed.”
Technology brands across industries agreed that purchasing decisions are increasingly influenced by the strength of the overall brand, its mission, and its values.
The report interestingly concluded that technology PR is evolving with media and core audiences wanting to know more than just what the company does. They want to know why you do it. This doesn’t mean that organizations should abandon all product marketing and PR to adopt a brand-only mindset. Instead, there should be a balance stuck rather than a game of tug of war.
Whilst B2B marketing is not entirely emotionally driven, ultimately, the saying “people work with people, not companies” applies. The more you can personify a brand, then the more appealing it will be to your target audience. And to achieve this, you need to instill it with your values, your culture, your people, and your vision. This is more than surface deep.
It’s those guiding principles that need to touch every area of the business and it’s what underpins your marketing and PR efforts as well as the individual conversations with suppliers and customers as well as how you treat your employees.
And for these reasons, and many more, I’m pleased to have joined an organization that prioritizes these meaningful brand attributes and focuses on the longevity of genuine relationships rather than quick-fix sales tactics.
We like to connect with not only our customers but our partners and resellers too. We have built our everlasting relationships through talking about and also demonstrating our core company brand values. Our support, authenticity, and transparency positions us well within the industry as knowledgeable experts who put our relationships first. This is evident when you look at who our customers are today, and more importantly, how long we have worked together. Some of which have been with us for over a decade, to which we are very proud of as this clearly demonstrates that we are not just about the product, but our priority is in fact the strength of our relationships.