As a B2B marketing professional, I know the lengths that businesses will sometimes go to make themselves look good. “Let’s be sure we control the narrative.” “We need good PR on this.” “I’d rather position us like this on the topic, we need to be seen as a thought leader.” I’m not saying that having these conversations are not important. Of course, I am an advocate for keeping track of all of these items to ensure business success, but it’s important to remember that it isn’t everything. You definitely cannot force a message if you’re changing a narrative, already have bad PR, or don’t have the knowledge to be a thought leader. There’s only so much “fake it ‘till you make it” you can get away with until someone calls you out.
What it comes down to, is trust. Word of mouth remains vital to company perceptions and has only been amplified through social media. No matter how seasoned your marketing staff, no matter how many emails you send or podcasts you’re on, nothing can overcome a bad customer experience propagated in everyone’s feed, including your prospects. Earning consumer trust comes down to a very simple strategy: just tell the truth.
1. Know your business and brand identity
A company mission statement is only aspirational unless every facet of the business embodies the mantra. As a marketer, you must walk the line of a company’s wildest dreams while remaining rooted in reality. You can’t say you are a high-quality provider in your marketing without making innovative product strides and investments into quality advancement backing you up. You can still craft intelligent, thoughtful messages that deliver practical value without sending mixed messages to future clients. Your job isn’t to position your brand into what is most marketable, it is to provide transparency into the uniqueness of your offerings.
2. Know your product or service
A marker cannot sit in an ivory tower; you should be able to hold conversation with every single employee and have some insight into their roles and responsibilities. Your job is to synthesize and promote their stories, understanding that every team is vital to the delivery of your product or service. Successful marketers maintain strong cross-departmental communication to turn employees into the biggest brand advocates and solidify one story to lead a customer through their entire experience.
3. Live up to the expectations you've set
When a customer comes to you through marketing channels, they are coming in with your marketing messaging in mind. If they find your 24/7 support to be a differentiator in the search for their new partner, standing by your promise is essential in their decision-making and satisfaction as a client. Promoting 24/7 support as more of an ideological talk-track but not actually having the resources to practically implement it means you build up the customer’s hope for nothing, and you lose their trust. If you only have support from 9am - 5pm, just say so! Tweaking the wording to focus on what you do have, rather than what you don’t, will still get you ahead of your competitors.
4. Love your company
You can teach someone social media analytics, how to pull reports, and write press releases, but you can’t teach someone passion. When marketers are passionate and truly believe in their teams, product, service, and mission, selling the truth becomes easy. Curating a culture that welcomes diverse viewpoints, empowers employees to be more than a number on a spreadsheet, and displays corporate values every day through action all make people fall in love with your brand.
5. But how?
I always read these types of articles but always struggle to take the first step. I think “this is all great and all, but how do I begin evaluating and implementing these ideas at my own company?” Here’s a few items to get you started:
- Map out your customer journey: Every company’s marketing is unique because their customers all need something different. Map out every lifecycle stage your customer goes through starting from where you attract their attention, to your satisfaction survey after a job well done.
- Block out time with team leaders, especially in sales: What makes each department tick? What are clients talking about most? Make sure every leader knows you and knows that they can go to you to broadcast their team’s successes to address these topics. Even shadow a few different employees, so you can gain some insider knowledge as to how they are working directly with customers that your messaging has inspired.
- Gain clear understanding of your company’s mission: Draft out 3-5 top marketing messages/ideas your company stands by, and then how you are making active steps towards upholding that message. For example, at InnovateMR, we use messaging framing us as a leader in audience quality. We uphold this message by making product advancements such as TextAnalyzer™ that is revolutionizing open-end responses through the use of AI and has been proven through independent research to improve data quality and exceed your customer’s expectations.
- Ask for help, and test test test!: You probably won’t get it right the first time, and that’s OK. Marketing is all about refinement. Ask for help from the rest of your team, even if they aren’t in marketing. What offering gets your top salesperson through the door? What ideas does your CEO bring into meetings with other executives? What do customers think the top value you provide is? Asking the right questions and testing your theories will help you continue to update your messaging and keep bringing in revenue.
Molly Strawn is a Senior Marketing Strategist at InnovateMR focused on outbound content creation including email, social media, events, and more. InnovateMR is a fiercely independent sampling company that delivers Faster Answers™ from business and consumer audiences. As industry pioneers, InnovateMR connects organizations with market research audiences around the world to support informed, data-driven strategies, and identify growth opportunities. InnovateMR has built its reputation on a relentless pursuit of customer delight. Stop working with vendors, and start working with a partner dedicated to your success.