I get asked this a lot and judging by the response I usually get to my reply I thought it might make an interesting blog post.
People buy from those that they like, trust and feel valued by. We all know that.
For consumers this is means a brand because it’s unlikely they will have a relationship with the person they actually buy the offering from. For example how many people do you know who work in the Apple shop? This is why Brands are incredibly important to B2C firms.
Now, in the B2B world some people buy from brands and will pay more for the privilege. When I sold my business in the 1990s I wanted one of the big 4 (we opted for KPMG in the end – good call actually) because it was a big sale and I wanted a firm (brand) I could trust. This is why Brand is important to firms who rely on reputation for their business and expect to charge large fees for their services as a result.
However, the world is changing now as we realise technology, innovation and service can make smaller firms as attractive as larger ones but for a fraction of the cost. When I sell my current business I am unlikely to use one of the big 4.
So here’s the key message: for everybody else a strong brand is optional and I certainly wouldn’t lose sleep over it. Let me explain why this is the case.
In this “middle world” where we don’t sell to consumers and reputation will enable us to charge larger fees what matters is our value proposition and, equally important, how it is delivered.
In other words if you can develop a strong product (that includes productised services) and have a process to expose that product to a large number of the right people you will make sales whether you have a strong brand or not. Really, your brand makes little difference at all; if your product is different, matches the client’s needs and is offered by somebody they can get on with nobody will care.
Of course you need to establish credibility and demonstrate your capabilities but that’s what social media and client testimonials are for.
I usually make this argument in front of clients who had never heard of me before they hired me (no brand recognition at all there then) but did so because my product matched their need and it was different enough from others that they had been exposed to before.
So if I were you I would focus most of my time, effort and resources on creating a strong and unique product and in developing an active sales environment to sell it. This is nowhere as difficult as it sounds.
Thinking about it perhaps I’ll write about how to productise a services in a future post if there is enough interest in it.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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