In 1958, a powerhouse publishing organization, McGraw-Hill, ran the above ad in their magazines (minus my markups) that became known as the “Man in the Chair”. It became an iconic advertisement highlighting the importance of supporting your Sales team with, rather ironically, advertising. In the world of near instantaneous information, it seems a world away, doesn’t it? Back then, Marketing brought a great deal of value to the relationship by merely informing the consumer that you existed. More importantly, the Marketer controlled the answers to nearly all of these assertions.
While much of this is still true today, two lines have arguably fallen out of the messaging realm of the modern Marketer.
“I don’t know your company’s record.”
“I don’t know your company’s reputation.”
This is especially true in SaaS where, as buyers, we can find product reviews on any vendor, easily access customers to get their opinion on a product and tap our networks to get referrals from people we trust. This shift has changed the role of the modern marketer. Today, marketers are utterly beholden to the voice of the consumer. As a result:
The modern marketer must move from the mindset of disseminating information to taking ownership of building a great brand out of great customer experiences.
Why? Let’s start with some facts about the current SaaS market dynamics:
- SaaS have never been more competitive
- SaaS is exiting it’s “Model T Stage” where you could differentiate with product, pricing, or how you operate
- Consumer digital media consumption has only experienced 4% YOY growth over the last three years*
- As a likely result, acquisition costs have risen 65% in the last 5 years, average NPS has dropped significantly, and willingness to pay is declining
Which is a SaaS-y way of saying, we have a slowly growing pond with more fishing boats than ever before, only slightly more fish, …oh, and the fish are getting pickier.
Given this challenge, how do you stand out in this growing landscape?
Yes, only Martech, and cliché to use, but still effective.
The answer is shift from branding to building a great brand. With this mindset, brand is much more than a name and logo. Brand is the sum of an individual's experience with your product and company, or as legendary graphic designer (designer of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign logo) Michael Beirut put it:
“When we look at a well-known logo, what we perceive isn’t just a word or an image or an abstract form, but a world of associations that have accrued over time. As a result, people forget that a brand new logo seldom means a thing. It is an empty vessel awaiting the meaning that will be poured into it by history and experience.”
In today’s reality, SaaS companies must not only be closer to the consumer than their competitors and innovate at a rapid pace, but they must also deliver world-class experiences to fill their brand vessels and turn customers into advocates.
Alright, so you’re probably thinking, “that sounds great, but where do I get started?”
From here, I will be writing multi-part series going from branding to building brand. I will be outlining a step-by-step process for marrying your brand assets, people, process and technology to build a great customer experiences, and, in turn, a great brand.
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