In the previous article we spoke about the importance of becoming a trusted brand. In this article we’ll cover how you can begin the process; which entails implementing a process.
Below is a schematic diagram of how the various elements of Marketing and Sales fit together, from a business process point of view. Don’t worry too much about digesting all of it. As we progress, and explain the links between the various pieces, the process will become clear.
For now, there are two important points.
- The trusted advisor goal hovers over everything.
This is your philosophy, your ultimate reason for doing everything you do with all the pieces of your marketing and sales puzzle. If your activities start to pull you away from this position in the hearts and minds of your customers, clients and consumers, you need to stop, take a step back, and start thinking and planning again.
- There is (or, should be) only one ‘system’.
Salespeople often refer to the system they use to manage their sales, as a Sales system or a CRM system or an ERP system. The problem with this approach is that it suggests there are multiple competing or contrasting technologies at play. This can often be a very real dynamic in fast-growing businesses.
Here, the idea of ERP becomes important. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is very popular at all levels of the market. This is because ERP software purposefully integrates all aspects of the business, from email to CRM to Sales to production, all running through the ERP system.
Whether your business follows this route or not, the idea is important. And this is it, in summary:
A good business has a strong, singular IT system. This system is essentially a communication backbone.
What do we mean by singular?
There is only one record for one entity.
An existing client will have one record which captures their:
- Sales history
- Service history
- Account history (personal details, credit card etc.)
- CRM history
- General contact history
- Content marketing history
- Social media history
A potential client (prospect) will have one record which captures:
- Content marketing history
- Social media history
The marketing process starts with understanding your brand message
Here’s where the distinction between a brand and the activity of branding becomes important. (We’ll deal with branding, and how to carry it out, in the next couple of articles which deals with promotional communication).
Before we can get to that, your business needs to define its Brand Message.
NOTE: Developing a Brand Message is not the same as using tactical methods (branding and promotional communication activities) to communicate with the public. Rather, it is all about translating the Value Proposition into a Brand Message that customers can understand.
So, let’s start with the Value Proposition. The Value Proposition sits at the heart of the business model. It needs to be very clear, because this idea will define many of your Marketing and Sales activities.
To be clear: A Value Proposition is the idea that clearly describes all the tangible benefits that a customer gains from your company or from using your product or service.
For more on this, check out the concept work done by Alex Osterwilder and his Strategyzer team on working with a Business Model Canvas.
Within the Business Model Canvas process, there are three key components to Value Proposition development. These are defined in Osterwilder’s follow-up book, Value Proposition Design, and are illustrated in the accompanying graphic:
- Create value
This is where you decide what key pain points your customers are experiencing, and how your product will resolve them.
- Observe customers
Once you think you have the value pinned down, you need to see whether your customers feel the same way. To do this, you test your Value Proposition (written up in the form of a hypothesis) with pilot groups, and watch carefully to see if your offering really is healing their pain in the way you thought it would.
You then adjust your Value Proposition according to what you’ve observed of it in action. Remember, if there are no adjustments to make, you’re probably not observing closely enough. At the end of this process, you should have a carefully worded and thoroughly tested hypothesis that defines your Value Proposition.
Your Value Proposition hypothesis, is not, however, a Brand Message able to be communicated in the public space. In fact, it is not even a decent Value Proposition. More work is required to translate it – first into a Value Proposition, and then (and only then!) into a Brand Message.
So, what’s the difference between a Value Proposition and Brand Message?
A Value Proposition describes exactly what pain the customer experiences, and how the business (product or service) solves it.
A Brand Message speaks to the customer and/or consumer about their pain, from their perspective, using concepts and language that appeal to them.
The golden rule is: Your Brand Message must flow from your Value Proposition.
NOTE: In case you missed it, the Value Proposition flows, in turn, from the business (or product) hypothesis.
This is really the first level of the process to becoming a trusted brand and trusted advisor.
Next in this series I will further unpack the definitions and provide depth to the process components.
For any questions, please feel free to add them as comments or to inbox me.