The core of the B2B purchasing decision process is simple: People trust other people. It’s been proven time and time again, with the latest Demand Gen B2B Buyers Survey reporting that 61 percent of respondents say they rely on peer recommendations and review sites when making purchasing decisions. But the way we do business is becoming increasingly reliant upon digital channels, which is why it’s more critical than ever that advanced manufacturing companies maintain the human component of their brand.
While digitization affords buyers a more streamlined purchasing experience, nothing can replace the human connection that exemplifies the knowledge, expertise and spirit of innovation behind the products. When it comes to B2B purchasing, it’s not just the flashy marketing campaigns or expensive ad buys that drive decisions at the end of the day – it’s the human brand champions themselves who often clinch the sale.
Developing brand champions doesn’t always require an investment of valuable resources in influencer strategies and paid ambassadorships. In fact, some of the best advocates for your brand are the people you reach every day. You don’t need to look far to find the brand evangelists who, armed with the right tools, can humanize your brand and amplify your message.
Employees: According to LinkedIn, posts shared by employees receive twice as much engagement as posts shared by companies. As the heart and soul of your company, employees are experts when it comes to your brand and your products or services. When equipped with appropriate messaging and preparation, employees can champion the brand in a way that is authentic, trustworthy and human.
Customers: No one exemplifies your value proposition more than a happy customer. Think of some of your longest-standing distributors, wholesalers or value chain partners. What keeps them loyal to your brand, and how can you encourage them to share that message? Are there incentives you can offer in exchange for their testimonials or participation in shared marketing opportunities? By partnering with customers in this way, you don’t just reap the benefits of their endorsement – you further strengthen your relationship, too.
Third-party advocates: Partnered with an NGO on a dynamic webinar panel discussion? Forged a strong relationship with a reporter who is passionate about what your company is doing? Whenever you engage with these external parties, consider them as potential ambassadors who might be open to helping you amplify your brand’s content in relevant contexts to new audiences.
The work doesn’t end with identifying brand champions. It’s up to you to prepare them with the information, materials and training they need to communicate consistently and effectively about the brand. Here are a few ways to achieve the impact you want with the people who are willing to shout about your brand:
Social media: As part of your regular communications with both employees and customers, include a rundown of priority messaging – but keep it simple. Rather than delving into the minutia of product developments, simply include social posts that can be copied and pasted within individual networks. The easier you make it for them, the more likely your brand champions will be to follow through and share your message.
Talking points/messaging: When it comes to your media spokespeople, think outside the box. Do you find yourself turning to the same representatives for every interview and media request? Consider using fresh faces from across the company, looking to employees who truly know your industry and products. Armed with pre-approved messaging and a bit of media training, you can uncover new experts and diversify your field of spokespeople.
Customer narratives: Success sells, and sharing success stories with potential customers allows them to envision how your brand can elevate their own. Consider breaking from the traditional case study with the creativity and innovation of a customer narrative, which moves away from the rigid problem-solution-result approach of case studies in favor of customer centrism and human impact.
Brand champions are at the core of any successful marketing campaign, providing the human connection that elevates the brand messaging. But identifying and preparing brand champions doesn’t have to be complicated or resource intensive. By looking to the employees and customers you work with every day, you’ll find a rich source of advocates ready to amplify your message.