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There's nothing we love more than solutions—top-notch insights from top-of-the-line experts that help solve common marketing problems. Here's this week's problem and expert solution.

Problem: How Much Is Too Much?

You want to incorporate your B2B brand message into every encounter with prospects and clients. But how do you do that without overdoing it?

Expert: Lois Brayfield, President, J. Schmid and Associates

Lois has created and produced successful programs for a variety of consumer, business-to-business, and retail clients in the catalog and direct marketing industries. She is an author and speaker, and you can idea-share with her at the MarketingProfs Business-to-Business Forum 2010, May 4-5, 2010.

Solution

Good news! If you are doing branding right, "you can never overdo it," says Lois.

That's great to hear. But how do you get it right?

The key to successful B2B branding, Lois says, is learning to "manage the brand experience so that the prospect/client's perception of you mirrors what your brand promise is." And to achieve that level of synchronicity, you'll need to close the gap between who you think you are and who your customers think you are.

So, where do you stand on the brand-synchronicity spectrum? To help you sort it out, Lois offers a list of common mistakes that B2B companies make in the branding process. Are you making any of the following mistakes?

1. They try to differentiate on a "cost-of-entry" benefit

"Companies love to say things like, 'We offer great customer service and free delivery,' but these are services customers expect from everyone," Lois points out. Touting such things will not set you apart to the extent you need to stand out.

2. They try to deliver on too many things

"Focus on one attribute that truly sets you apart, and promote it in multiple, creative ways," Lois advises.

Here's a case in point: Volvo is all about safety. Yes, the company promotes other benefits, but it always leads with the same message: "We provide a safe car." The company has stuck to that message for decades, she notes. And it resonates.

3. They aren't creative enough to deliver one message in multiple ways

The ability to deliver one message in multiple ways is the true challenge of branding. It is crucial to keep reminding clients of why they chose you, Lois stresses.

For example, how does Staples prove "That was easy" in multiple ways? Via fun commercials with a silly button, third-party testimonials, and in-store staff members asking, "Need some help?"

4. They don't focus enough on internal branding

The crucial aspect of branding—ensuring that every employee is focused on the brand message at every customer touch point—is often neglected, Brayfield reports. "I call it 'brand drift,'" she says, "when employees focus on brand after a brand meeting, then start to slip away from the branding message."

Good branding includes how your reps answer the phone, even how a prospective employee is greeted when applying for a job. (Think Southwest Airlines and its team spirit.)

5. They don't recognize all their points of contact

Expanding the last point, Brayfield includes a host of easily overlooked points that can carry a brand message: How are your products packaged? What do customers see when they open a package or mailing from you? How have you made it rewarding for clients to contact you? Do you make them feel valued?

"Pull together a customer-experience team within your company to identify all of your points of contact," she advises. "Then get creative finding ways to incorporate your tagline into all of them."

* * *

What's your ultimate achievement when you get the branding process right? "I call it 'brandwashing,'" Lois says. "That's when your clients spread your message for you." For example, "We stick with [Your Company] because they make our job easier and offer peace of mind."

"When your product or service is truly relevant to a client's needs, then you are solving problems for them in a workaday world," Lois notes. "That's how you achieve true brand loyalty," she concludes.

Problem solved.

Learn step-by-step with Lois Brayfield how to clarify your brand message to drive sales at the MarketingProfs Business-to-Business Forum 2010, May 4-5, 2010 in Boston.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Claire Coyne is a writer and editor for MarketingProfs. Reach her via clairec@marketingprofs.com.