Let’s not beat around the bush, building a new B2B brand from the ground up is tough. Laying the foundation for success requires a lot of planning, commitment and just that little bit of luck.
Just how do you break into the B2B market successfully with a portfolio of clients, profit, and knowledge from the get-go?
Well… you can’t… not immediately anyway. Anyone would tell you that in fact, you shouldn’t.
However much capital you pump into your new B2B venture, chances are you’re not going to have all the pieces in place from the start. You’re more than likely going to run into the same hurdles many have stumbled upon before. You may even have the foundation for success ready and be waiting to go, but if your branding isn’t strong enough to support it, chances are you’ll make very little impact on the world.
So, how do you polish the brand that sits in front of your expert infrastructure? What is it that stands between your infantile B2B brand and market success?
Here are the challenges I’ve encountered in nurturing a B2B brand from scratch:
1. Deciding when to launch
Building a B2B brand takes time, but there comes a point where you must identify when to launch your brand. It’s important to have the fundamentals in place, but sometimes, there is a need to launch with pieces missing, identifying what you can and can’t live without in the early stages is critical. If you wait for every blade of grass to fall into place you may never get your brand off the ground!
If you’ve only got the bare basics in place, you may want to evaluate any lead generations efforts. While it may seem necessary to relieve budget constraints, diving into lead generation prematurely has the potential to alienate your prospects and undermine your brand.
2. Overcoming a lack of brand legacy
As a new brand in the market, you’ll lack the legacy of your competitors – by default. This can serve as a significant disadvantage when rivaling other companies for business. However, the people behind your brand can make all the difference. Just because your company hasn’t been there and done it before, does not mean your people haven’t.
Putting your people front and center can help to overcome the potentially negative perception of being a newcomer in the market. People can give your venture the much-needed credibility it needs to get off the ground. Of course, this approach has its downsides. Relying upon individuals to lend credibility to your brand can be risky and can cause you to become reliant upon those key personal. You do not want to be in a position where your brand cannot stand alone.
3. Identifying your brand personality
As you’re starting from nothing, your brand is a blank slate. You need to identify how you want to position your brand as soon as possible and understand the language you intend to use to communicate to your audience. There is no wrong or right answer to this question, but there is an answer, and you need to find it sooner rather than later. Progressing without a clear appreciation of who you are will severely hinder your business efforts and confuse your audience. Find an identity and stick with it.
4. Recognizing your competitors
In the beginning, it can be hard to pinpoint just who exactly your target audience are. In some cases, this can make identifying competitors a little tricky. Without knowing where you stand in the market, understanding who you’re up against is almost impossible.
As you open for business, the audience you start to build will influence who you’re competing against. With this information, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of the operational landscape and how your competitors are servicing the prospects you’re looking to capture.
5. Developing an internal management culture
The management culture of your business will come to influence many factors around your brand. Everything from your productivity to your creativity will be impacted by the way in which your culture develops.
Determining what level of internal freedom your brand can allow, without sacrificing its ability to deliver its key propositions is essential. This line will fundamentally impact your success, the type of clients you work with, and ultimately, the work you produce.
Whether you feel it’s more efficient to let your staff flourish through a relaxed management style or if you believe your venture requires a micro-management structure, all that matters is that you can inspire people to produce the quality that justifies the means.
Overall, we’ve learned that nothing can be rushed. At times, it’s tempting to open the business as soon as you have the foundation in place, but if you don’t have the means to fulfill your proposition, chances are you’ll fall flat on your face.
Providing the customer remains at the heart of everything you do, your brand should develop naturally as your business learns how to operate and compete in the market. While the customer may not always be right, they are always the priority and that has been reflected time and again throughout my experience. It’s an obvious point, but it really can’t be stressed enough!