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Sales and Marketing Software

Track Your Brand Performance in New B2B Markets

By Bob Johnson, VP & Principal Analyst

The Value in Knowing the Good the Bad and the Opportunity

Imagine your company is entering a new market with a new offering. No doubt you ask yourself certain questions prior to entry, but a bigger question is what will you ask buyers in that market periodically after the initial launch? My observation is that too few companies ask critical questions until it’s too late for significant course corrections. I wonder out loud if it is that they prefer not to know, or don’t know what to ask.

No doubt you’ve done your pre-launch homework. But I’ll restate the three most important question across a range of areas so you have all the information in one place:

Where to Target

  1. What target audience is most involved in buying your offering?
  2. What functional areas of the business have involvement in the buying decision?
  3. What degree of influence do those functional areas have in making a choice?

What to Say

  1. What value propositions is the overall audience most interested in that matches their needs?
  2. How do the value propositions vary by audience segment in terms of functions, roles (decision maker vs. recommender) and focus (technical, financial, business)?
  3. How do key topics surround your offering and which are most important?

Where and How to Say It

  1. What content types and formats do your prospects prefer and rely on during each buying stage?
  2. What are your competitors using today for types, formats and messages and what gaps do they have that you can expose to speed interest and penetration?
  3. What sources do they rely on for purchase related information such as you, third parties or peers?

So, you launch and you promote and you begin to fill the top end of the funnel. Competitors react and you amplify, accelerate and do all that you can to build awareness, interest and pipeline. But do you track on a quarterly or periodical basis how you’re doing in terms of awareness, interest and perception?

Speaking with multiple agencies that represent vendors entering new markets there appears a predisposition to not ask the obvious questions beyond looking at funnel and pipeline. Could it be because brand managers are hesitant to know too much too soon? This confuses me, as there is so much that can be done to fine tune your market entry by such tracking.

 

If you do begin to track how your entry is doing in a new market segment here are the top ten areas you should focus on, taken from what IDG Connect does with its clients. Take them to heart, take them to management but most importantly, take them to the market.  Understanding in this way, from the voice of the buyer, enables you to penetrate more quickly and with greater competitive force.

Top Ten Ongoing Brand Performance Questions

 

  1. What is the unaided recall for different vendors in the space?
  2. What is the unaided recall for different offerings in the market?
  3. What is the aided recall for different offerings in the space?
  4. What are the key value propositions to buyers?
  5. What value propositions are most associated with which vendor offerings?
  6. What benefits are the buyers most interested in personally (Personal Value) as well as organizationally? (Organizational Value)
  7. What benefits are most associated with each vendor and its offering?
  8. What are the perceived weaknesses in key requirements for each vendor offering?
  9. Who is perceived to be the thought leader in the market?
  10. Where are buyers seeing promotion around this type of offering?

Too few vendors want their agencies to spend on this critical aspect of brand success in any systematic, coherent way to see how well they move the needle of awareness and interest. To do so takes some money away from promotion and demand generation. That attitude is just wrong and cannot be defended. You end up doing things based upon what you think rather than what you know.

 

Ignoring the need for ongoing brand performance measurement opens you to up to the possibility of spending good money after bad. All, perhaps because you:

  • Don’t know or prefer not to know
  • Figure it is something agencies should just do for you for free
  • Would rather invest in cool marketing versus critical insight

Recently, we saw a vendor with a new entry into a new market segment move, over nine months, from a baseline aided recall of 22 percent to over 60 percent, and move to become one of the top two vendors perceived as the most influential thought leaders. Of course, not all tracking results will be positive. It can bring negative news, certainly, but that negative news arms marketing with actionable insight about messaging and approach.

Marketing executives (that’s you, Mr. or Ms. CMO) - push for those answers and require brand and offering perception be part of any new market entry. If your team does not do it, it will ultimately be you, personally, that is exposed given your overall responsibility.

But you also have to approve the spending along with giving the direction - it costs money to do it at all, let alone the right way. So, is it a line item? Make it one and then, you can adjust messaging post entry, target competitive weaknesses as they develop and perhaps most importantly, differentiate in ways that align with the real needs of buyers. 

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Bob Johnson

VP & Principal Analyst, IDG Connect

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