Flexibility Is Key, So Is A Focus On The Customer
By Leor Franks, CMO, Augusta
The markets today remain unstable as the ongoing uncertainty of the Pandemic and macro issues such as Brexit make long term planning difficult. As a result, firm leaders are increasingly focussed on ensuring alignment between marketing investments and rapidly changing business needs. The challenge for MarComs and BD staff is ensuring flexibility, without losing sight of a key purpose of marketing activity: building long-term client favourability towards your firm.
Why Clients Favourability To Your Brand Matters
In order to adapt marketing objectives and tactics in these difficult times, insight into how the customer presently perceives your firm is essential. The ‘Favourability Journey’ tool can help gain this understanding. The technique covers four stages of a client’s familiarity with your brand: Recognition, Reputation, Relationships and Revenue. Imagine the following situation, which will bring the tool to life:
1 – Recognition. You go into a bar to meet a contact for a drink. Considering what to order, your see 30 bottles on the shelf, none are familiar. How can you pick without recognition of the brands? Looking at the labels, ten are from a region you are aware of. You’ve reached the first step of the Favourability Journey: ‘Recognition’. However, without further information, ten is too many to pick from.
2 – Reputation. There is no barkeeper in sight, so you go behind the bar and take a closer look at the ten. In the absence of awareness of the calibre of these, how do you select? Five of the bottles show an award logo on their label. This provides comfort that they are good quality. You’ve reached the second step of the Favourability Journey: ‘Reputation’. But five is still too many to choose from.
3 – Relationships. A barkeeper greets you. They ask about what you prefer to drink. Understanding your preferences, they offer advice that two of the five bottles you are looking at might suit. You’ve reached the third step of the Favourability Journey: ‘Relationships’. Two is a sensible range to choose from, but what about price?
4 – Revenue. The barkeeper tells you one bottle is $100 and the other, $20. You consider what will look best to your client – the reassuringly pricey but possibly flashy option, or the cheaper but potentially miserly choice. You’ve reached the final step of the Favourability Journey: ‘Revenue’. Thinking of anti-bribery concerns, you opt for the lower-cost option!
In minutes, you’ve journeyed from uninformed and uncomfortable, lacking recognition of the brands, to understanding reputations, and with advice based on a relationship, you can now make an informed choice, to give revenue to one brand over the others. This type of situation is likely familiar for individual buying decisions. It may also translate as the kind of journey clients go on with business purchases in legal and financial services, amongst other B2B industries.
How To Audit Brand Favourability
Before formulating marketing plans, clarity on current business goals is essential. With such insight from leadership on the latest needs, an audit of clients’ favourability to your brand is the next step. Examples of some typical options for this analysis are below, and will flex based on budget, resource, and company profile.
Recognition. Ask ‘how well is our brand known by our target market’? A client survey, ideally conducted on an unprompted and unattributed basis, is an effective tool. A digital audit including search engine rankings can supplement this.
Reputation. Ask ‘what does our target market know about us’? As well as the tools in the recognition audit, it is helpful to add third-party sources, e.g. directory rankings or award providers. A media sentiment analysis, whether using technology or a PR adviser can also be used.
Relationships. Ask ‘what do our existing clients think of us’? Input from the above processes can be supplemented by CRM data. Ideally, client service assessment debriefs should be added, as can input from customer-facing staff.
Revenue. Ask ‘how do we perform on concrete opportunities’? Basic evaluation of win/loss rates on pitches should be conducted. Feedback from clients where possible is also helpful. Additionally, independent analysis of sales processes and pricing, e.g. from consultants, can be illuminating.
Data from this audit can be used to categorise accounts based on their progress with your brand. This will inform the marketing objectives and tactics that are required to encourage specific clients along their Favourability Journey with you. Today, regularly assessing progress against long-term objectives as well as checking in on alignment with current business goals is essential, especially amidst continuing uncertainty.