This is the digital age in the industrial sector—in every market really. Engineers and technical buyers have access to more information and resources than ever before to research and support their buying decisions.
From industry-specific websites and e-newsletters, to social media, webinars and customer ratings, digital channels and content have helped to level the playing field for competitors and are driving a fundamental shift in how industrial professionals discover, evaluate and purchase products and services.
As an industrial marketer you might be asking: With all of this information now easily available, does branding still matter?
The answer depends on how you define branding. If you still think of branding in terms of its origins when ranchers seared into their cattle a distinctive and recognizable ownership mark, then branding probably doesn’t matter that much. A pretty logo, slick collateral, or an impressive tradeshow display—while nice to have—might not sway buyers in your direction.
But if you think of branding as a strategic initiative that encompasses everything your company does to build trust and credibility with customers and prospects, then branding matters. If you accept the fact that your brand is defined by how customers and prospects think and feel about your company, products and services, then branding is more important now more than ever.
The fact is, while the number of channels and the volume of content have provided engineers with more information and choices, they may be overwhelmed with the flood of options available to them, and as always they are still faced with the possibility of making the wrong buying decision.
On the other hand, if they buy from a company whose brand they trust and respect, they will have more confidence in their decision. Therefore, branding matters. A lot.
Here are five reasons why you should still invest in creating a strong brand:
1. Strong brands reduce risk for customers and prospects. You’ve heard the expression, “No one has ever gotten fired for buying IBM.” That might be the greatest brand statement in history. What it means is that buying from IBM is the right choice because its brand is reputable and safe. Many companies who might have offered better products and feature sets lost business to IBM simply because of IBM’s brand strength. A strong brand mitigates the perception of risk that accompanies significant investments and alleviates some of the fear that buyers inevitably experience when they’re facing a major purchase decision.
2. A strong brand offers clarity. Effective branding puts a stake in the ground that says to all involved: “This is who we are, this is what we do, this is why we do it.” As a customer, you know what you’re getting when you know what a brand stands for.
3. A strong brand fosters trust. Business is all about relationships, even when the products offered for sale might be perceived as commodity components. And relationships are based on trust. Without trust, there is no transaction. If a potential customer trusts your brand, he or she is more likely to buy from you.
4. A strong brand builds customer loyalty. Many industrial companies have customers they have supplied for years. These are your loyal customers. They buy from you with confidence. They buy knowing their expectations will be met and that any issues will be quickly resolved.
5. A strong brand can shorten the sales cycle. If your brand is known and recognized in your market and among potential customers, your company’s sales people can save a lot of time by not having to explain what your company is about and why a prospect should buy from you. With an unknown brand, sales people are starting at the bottom rung with every sales opportunity, working to convince prospects that your company and products are worthy.
Get to Work on Branding
Branding should be an important part of your marketing strategy, if it isn’t already. Fortunately, branding tactics don’t have to work in isolation; they can also help to generate engagement opportunities with your target audience.
Programs such as display advertising on industrial websites can expand your reach and increase visibility and awareness of your brand. E-newsletter advertising can get your brand into the inbox of motivated engineers and industrial professionals. And webinars and other content marketing efforts can help position your company and brand as experts and thought leaders in your industry.
Branding still matters. Talk to your media partners about programs to strengthen your company’s brand.