Giving your marketing a personality
Our features writer Chris Bilko discusses how B2Bs can differentiate themselves in a world of product parity.
You’ll have no doubt attended a meeting in the past where a sweaty, rather nervous delegate to your right interrupts your progress with something similar to the following:
“Before going any further, it might be an idea to briefly summarise the actionables from item four. Whilst our existing strategy is working well I’d like to make 100% sure that it’s fully leveraging our employ
ee skill set so that we truly maximise stakeholder value. Thoughts?”
Bear in mind that you’re around two hours in and that the meeting has so far been intense. Think back to such a moment and remember how you felt at the time. Then take a quick look at your marketing copy. Are your marketing communications eliciting the same negative emotions in your target prospects?
Now’s the time to build your personality
It’s highly unlikely that your marketing communications are anywhere near as incomprehensible as the above quotation. But if you’re in the B2B space, it’s also unlikely that your copy is entirely jargon-free.
That’s because including jargon in B2B communications has, until recently, been an accepted norm. Throwing the odd ‘laser-focus’ or ‘consumer-centric’ clanger into a marketing message historically helped secure trade press coverage, making such a practice a necessary evil.
But now that content marketing offers an alternative route to market, might you be better off dropping the jargon and injecting a real, human personality into your marketing copy? Could giving your brand a personality even give you a competitive advantage?
“Stop looking at my bottom”
On paper, defining a brand personality via your marketing messages certainly seems like a worthwhile pursuit. In an age of product parity, a brand personality helps differentiate you from competitors, allowing you to charge a premium for your services.
B2C drinks brand Innocent epitomise such an approach. They’ve been able to compete – and, indeed, thrive – in a highly competitive marketplace by differentiating themselves with open, honest and amusing quips such as “we promise to never use preservatives, stabilisers or any weird stuff” and (on the underside of a drink carton) “Stop looking at my bottom.”
In the B2B space, email marketing provider MailChimp’s informal tone has helped the company grow from 0 to 8 million users in just over 14 years. Such growth is all the more impressive when you consider email marketing providers offer no physical product whatsoever.
People buy from people
Don’t get us wrong; we’re not saying you need to throw professionalism out the window to ensure all future marketing communications hit home. What we are saying is you need to bear in mind that you’re talking to people, and that people buy from people.
That makes it OK – desirable, even – to add a real personality into your marketing communications. Do so repeatedly and you’ll slowly begin to properly define your brand.
Consistency is key
Bear in mind, though, that consistency is key when building a brand personality. Flitting between one tone and another is more likely to confuse your audience than entice them.
Brands developing their personality are therefore advised to stick to a set of guidelines or values such as our very own e-book, The Content Coms Little Book of Knowledge, which can help unify marketing messages. And as such guides clearly define a brand’s principles, they can even be used as marketing materials in isolation.
The easiest way to stand out from the crowd?
Of course, building a unique personality is not the only way to differentiate your product or service.
You could instead be highly innovative, continually developing patented products no-one else can offer. Or you could pour significant efforts into refining your existing product suite, ensuring it’s the best available to the market.
But given how much resource both of the above techniques demand, and given that both are sooner or later replicable, defining a brand personality certainly has merit – especially when communicating with customers directly.
The first B2Bs to catch on may well be the ones who prosper.