By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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This week’s episode is entitled “The Power of Brand in B2B: Best Practices from a Modern Master” we talk to Lindsay Pedersen, Brand Strategist and owner at Ironclad Brand, as well as best-selling author of Forging An Ironclad Brand: A Leader’s Guide.
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“Today the most scarce resource that most of us have is attention. Any tool that can break through or can harness attention, whether it’s a song, or a brand name, or an image, is truly a multiplier.”
According to Lindsay, “There’s a distinction that’s probably worth making that brand strategy is simply the definition of who you are and what is the promise that you bring, so what’s the stake in the ground that you’re putting, why should your customer part with their hard-earned money, or time, or attention for you? So it’s really the definition of the value you bring and brand marketing and the tactics for brand marketing and brand awareness building, are those belong in kind of the bucket of marketing and those are what can be kind of in conflict some might say with your term lead generation. Brand strategy is agnostic of tactics, just like you’re mission is agnostic of tactics, so related but distinct as well, right? So whether it’s B2B or B2C being very precise about what is the value you bring your customer is worthwhile, regardless of what kind of company you are and regardless of what stage company you are. If you’re a startup and you have a small marketing budget and a small innovation budget, you probably stand to gain even more from focus, which brand strategy is simply a tool for focus. So it’s not less useful, it arguably is more useful as long as you’re serving human beings who have scarce attention, it’s going to be really welcome to have a focus.”
This and a lot more! Listen in or read the full transcript below!
Sponsor: Intercom wants more of the nice people visiting your website to give you money, so they took that little chat bubble in the corner of a website and packed it with automatic meeting booking, data capture on leads, conversational bots, and more. Intercom user elegant themes added Intercom to their site and now convert 25% of leads through live chat. Go to intercom.com/deals to jump on customer intent in the moment, then see everything else Intercom can do. That’s intercom.com/deals.
Paul: Hey welcome back. It’s time once again for another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. As we grab our boards and swim out into the sea of sports that’s swamping us everywhere here with the man who seems to watch them all, he has 100 TVs set up right now, he watches football, he watches baseball, and of course, of course, he watches, probably the most amazing sport of all, the apple racing contest in Juan River down in Tasmania, yes that’s that time of year where they drop an apple and they watch it race down the river here so I know that’s near and dear to your heart.
Matt: God bless the world wide web. How long did it take you to find that?
Paul: Find it, it’s number one when you type October sports, every year in Tasmania. They drop it off a bridge, and then they let it flow down and whoever gets so far down the river the fastest wins. What a sport.
Matt: So you assume there’s some strategy behind this, like is it a bigger apple, or if you can somehow figure out how do you hollow out the apple that means it actually has less mass that can go faster through the currents, there must be some more, we got to do some more research on this, I want to understand now apple race strategies, someone has created that content.
Paul: Hopefully they’re not cooking it because that would change the dynamics totally here. We don’t want to cook this sport and fix the results here.
Matt: Speaking of October sports, are we just not going to talk about the Dodgers at all? Are we just going to let that fly?
Paul: I think we’re just going to let that slide. How could the Dodgers who win more games than anybody else be where they’re at?
Matt: Pushing hot buttons early and often here on Sales Pipeline Radio. Well thanks everyone for joining us. Until he went down the apple race path, I was going to tell you that I think I’m in the wrong profession because of the news updates on the Funnel Media Radio Network so thank you everyone for joining us. For those of you joining us live on the Funnel Media Radio Network, thank you for making us part of your workday.
You may have heard the same story I did leading into our episode, that the creators of the song Christmas Time Is Here on the pianist Christmas special, they’re upset because apparently it’s being used by Dollywood. You can’t make this story up.
Paul: The Charlie Brown Christmas Song has been used by Dollywood without paying royalties and Charlie wants his money, the guy behind that wants his money, whoever the guy is.
Matt: Right. Whoever the guy is, but did you hear how he wants $150,000 for every time it’s played since 2007.
Matt: I shouldn’t have quit piano lessons, I really should have kept up with that. I mean I love my job and I love getting to do this but holy god now that is something. If you aren’t listening live, you’re listening on the podcast, now you know we tell you about the most interesting sports in the world, we tell you what’s happening in the world of Southern California beach drizzle sports and we’re also here to talk about B2B sales and marketing so if you’re joining us in the podcast, thanks so much for joining us, our listenership continues to grow and you can find it anywhere fine podcasts are available.
In every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio we don’t always go this deep into eight-tier sports but we do talk a lot about field of marketing, we’re a couple hundred episodes in so if you want to catch up on what we’ve been doing, you can find every episode past, present, and future on salespipelineradio.com. We are featuring some of the best and brightest minds in sales or marketing, today is absolutely no different. I am really, really excited to have with us today, Lindsay Pedersen, she is a brand strategist, she is the author of the best-selling book, Forging An Ironclad Brand. Lindsay thanks so much for joining us today.
Lindsay: It’s so good to be here with you, thanks for having me.
Matt: Should we talk about, from a brand perspective, I brought up this issue of the Peanuts Christmas song and Dollywood so you have a couple brands at play here but more importantly I think the idea that a song can be worth $150,000 every time it’s played, I mean clearly there are some songs that might be even more iconic than that, but the impact of brand is everywhere and my goodness are there some multiples on the impact and value that can provide, it’s crazy.
Lindsay: It’s so true. Today the most scarce resource that most of us have is attention. Any tool that can break through or can harness attention, whether it’s a song, or a brand name, or an image, is truly a multiplier.
Matt: Well I think especially, we tend to talk a lot about B2B, and I think it’s really easy for B2B companies, especially startups, to not prioritize brand because they’re so focused on generating leads, they’re so focused on getting pipeline and getting that next deal and so the email next Tuesday becomes more important than creating some consistency, creating sort of a reputation for what you’re doing. Yeah I know you’ve spent a lot of time, you’ve spent years working on this, you’re clients are head of a who’s who list of companies around the world, Zulily, Starbucks, T-Mobile, Coinstar, what are these companies recognize in value that startups are missing that probably should be prioritizing earlier in their maturity.
Lindsay: Yeah. So there’s a couple things and there’s a distinction that’s probably worth making that brand strategy is simply the definition of who you are and what is the promise that you bring, so what’s the stake in the ground that you’re putting, why should your customer part with their hard-earned money, or time, or attention for you? So it’s really the definition of the value that you bring and brand marketing and the tactics for brand marketing and brand awareness building, are those belong in kind of the bucket of marketing and those are what can be kind of in conflict some might say with your term lead generation.
Brand strategy is agnostic of tactics, just like your mission is agnostic of tactics, so related but distinct as well, right? So whether it’s B2B or B2C being very precise about what is the value that you bring your customer is worthwhile, regardless of what kind of company you are and regardless of what stage company you are. If you’re a startup and you have a small marketing budget and a small innovation budget, you probably stand to gain even more from focus, which brand strategy is simply a tool for focus. So it’s not less useful, it arguably is more useful as long as you’re serving human beings who have scarce attention, it’s going to be really welcome to have a focus.
Matt: So I love what you’re saying, just to reiterate what you’re saying having a brand at any stage company is not about having a brand budget, it’s not about doing brand campaigns, it’s really establishing who you are and being consistent to doing that. Like what are some of the things that when you talk to early stage companies about really establishing an ironclad brand, those things that they just need to make part of their culture and create some discord around, what are some of the foundational elements in doing that?
Lindsay: To building a brand strategy?
Matt: Yeah, I think sometimes I hear companies sometimes say well we don’t have time to invest in brand, we’re spending that time and effort in generating demand, right we have to focus on short-term demand, pipeline goals versus building our brand, and I think what I hear there is there’s an association between brand and I have to have money to do it and I have to treat it as a campaign, it’s going to replace doing demand-gen campaigns, and what I’m hearing from you, is this is really more about the culture and discipline you have internally in terms of understanding who you are and how that’s communicated to the market than it is spending money or doing explicit campaigns.
Lindsay: Yes, it has nothing to do with how much you spend, in fact defining who you are doesn’t cost anything, it costs you the time that you spend to do that defining. So if you can have a brand strategy and spend zero on marketing, whether top of funnel or bottom of funnel, there’s totally different variables, the thing about brand strategy and the definition of your brand conditioning is that it not only transcends tactic, marketing tactic, it transcends marketing.
So and you mentioned culture, brand is a tool for distilling what’s the culture that you want to bring, it’s a tool for defining your products road map and your innovation pipeline, it’s a tool to help you figure out how to price what you bring, so it’s all of those things that the customer experiences whether implicitly or explicitly that add up to what is the position of your business in their brain, that’s what your brand is, so it not only is bigger than how you allocate your marketing budget, but it’s bigger than everything, it’s aligned with why does your company exist in the first place.
So it’s kind of a false, I mean I might even say it’s a cop-out to say well we’re going to spend a lot of money on lead-gen so we don’t need a brand, those have nothing to do with each other, you can make your decision about what marketing tactics to invest in and not to invest in in a way that has nothing to do with your brand strategy. There probably are instances where it’s wise to only invest in lead-gen, if you’re not trying to create a long, enduring business, maybe that actually is in support of your business goals and your brand strategy can help you to ensure that whatever message you’re bringing in your lead-gen is synergistic with something that only you can bring, they reinforce one another, it’s not either or it’s both and.
Matt: Yeah, I think you’re right. I think that in some cases that is an uncomfortable answer for people that want to just say I would just focus on building pipeline and I’ll earn the right to build a brand strategy and to have a brand after we get past this first hump, but everything you do, especially early on, you’re establishing who you are and as you well know, you talk about in your book, even ironclad brands can shift and change over time, you have to do that foundational work to be successful. And before we move on I do want to talk a little more about the book and some of the resources that you have that I think are really important. Talk a little more explicitly about what’s the opportunity cost of not doing that, like what happens to companies if they’re so focused on the next month, the next quarter, the email next Tuesday, if they’re so focused on just whatever it takes random acts of sales and marketing to get to the next closest number, what happens to a business like that if they’re not putting a focus on brand?
Lindsay: Yeah so the adage is position or be positioned. You can either deliberately claim the position that’s optimal for you or you can let the market position you and hope that it will be an advantageous position, most likely you’re going to arrive at a more value-creating position if you’re the one who determines what it’s going to be. It’s false to think that not doing this means you’re not going to have a position, of course you will, you will have a brand whether you overtly claim it and define it or not.
And my argument is it’s so consequential to the future and the growth of your business and maybe even the value you create as a leader, but it’s too important to leave it to chance, so on an existential level that’s how important it is, now when it comes to really the exercises defining your brand, if you don’t do it at best could be leaving money on the table because a brand that’s differentiated and resonant with your customers’ demands pricing power. So at best, you’re not making as big of an opportunity as you could be, at worst, you could be spending money, whether you’re raising venture capital, or whether you’re bootstrapping, you could be spending money against something that actually isn’t that potent for the person that’s making the purchase decision.
This is all because it’s sort of a false understanding of what brand is, it’s just the focus that you’re choosing with humility and curiosity, understanding your customer, understanding your own strengths, understanding the strengths that your competitors have that you could never replicate and then claiming that the place that makes the most meaning for your customers but is also something that only you can bring, that’s what’s going to create the most value. The short answer is if you don’t do it, you’re not capturing as much value as you could be.
Matt: Love it. We’re talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Lindsay Pedersen, she is a brand strategist and the author of the new book Forging An Ironclad Brand, A Leader’s Guide, you can learn more about her at the website ironcladbrandstrategy.com. It’s got a ton of great resources up there in addition to the book, she’s got a PDF of the nine criteria for an ironclad brand strategy, good little primer for the book that you can download for off of the book. And I think, before we have to take a break here Lindsay, you have come from, what I would call as a non-MBA, and non, sort of, traditional brand guy, is you’ve got a very traditional brand background, you got an MBA, you spent time in CPG with Clorox, I’m curious as you went from sort of studying brand academically to managing brands in real life, what were some a-has that you found in the field, somethings that changed the way you think about brand at a practical level?
Lindsay: Yeah, I think this is the leaders, kind of the paradox, of being a general manager of being a leader, is that you constantly are trying to balance short-term demands with long-term desires and I think that sort of touches on your originating question kind of about the false dichotomy between lead-gen and brand marketing tactics, that’s what’s so hard about being a leader is that, and this is not something that you can appreciate if you don’t experience it yourself, is that you are trying to keep the lights on today, trying to meet your numbers, trying to survive in the short-term, but you also probably aren’t doing this if you don’t want to thrive in the long-term as well, that’s the paradox, straddling those sometimes competing needs and it’s really difficult but it’s a worthwhile nut to crack.
Matt: We’re going to have to take a quick break here and pay some bills, we’ll be back with more with Lindsay Pedersen talking about brand strategy, she specifically called this book A Leader’s Guide, I want to find out what she means by that, and talk more about ways to combine effectively your brand strategy with your demand and sales pipeline development strategy. We’ll be right back on Sales Pipeline Radio.
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Paul: Alright, back to Matt and his guest as they go bobbing for apples and more information.
Matt: So before we go to far, could you please explain to me who Dee Coleman is? And I may be asking a dumb question maybe everyone else knows who this person is, but what is Dee Coleman doing in your studio?
Paul: Dee Coleman was here the other day, we do a show on local races here in Orange County and he’s running for San Clemente city council against a pretty powerful slate of people here.
Matt: Oh my goodness, well alright, didn’t mean to get political there but go Dee Coleman. The poster looks phenomenal.
Paul: There you go.
Matt: I’ll give him that, there you go. Alright, well thanks for joining us again on this special episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, we are digging in entirely on brand and brand strategy, ironclad brand strategy, back with our guest today Lindsay Pedersen. Definitely check out her website ironcladbrandstrategy.com, she’s the author of the new book Forging An Ironclad Brand: A Leader’s Guide, you can find it on Amazon and all the places where fine books are sold. Lindsay, you could have ended the book title with Forging An Ironclad Brand that I’m probably already in, but then you have the tagline underneath is A Leader’s Guide. Talk about why that angle is so important as a component of sort of your message and mission from a brand strategy standpoint.
Lindsay: Yes, thank you. Most books about brands are written for marketing technicians. The bee that I had in my bonnet is that the person or the group of people who stand the most to gain by understanding and precisely defining their brand are actually the owners and the leaders of the business because the whole point of brand is to create sustainable differentiation so that you can be profitable for a long time. The whole point of brand is to create the most value, so the leaders are the one who gain the most when value is maximized, that’s the first reason that this is a guide for leaders.
The second reason is that if a leader isn’t owning and holding conviction in the brand strategy, then it simply won’t be implemented. It could be a pretty marketing campaign but it won’t be the north star of the company unless the leader is holding that because here’s the thing, when you define your brand positioning, when you select the stake that you’re going to put into the ground you are taking off the table an infinite number of other things that you could be and that’s a really scary thing to do but that’s the whole power of it is in being singular, is it being really specific about your promise.
So what happens if the leader does not engage in the process of defining their brand strategy is that when it gets hard to adhere to the decisions that you made, the leader will hedge, they will choose something easier, in some ways the point of the brand strategy is to enable the leader to hold his or her feet to the fire for what’s the focus that’s been chosen. If that’s delegated, or if that’s owned by an agency or by a department, probably the marketing organization, it won’t have the whole value because the customer experiences everything of the business, not just the messaging and not just the marketing tactics. So just won’t be much value.
Matt: We see this a lot when we’re asking and when we’re seeing companies that want to commit to a more target account approach across sales and marketing, when they’re asking companies to not just look at campaigns but really create a culture change. If the top of the organization isn’t bought off, and if the top of the organization isn’t seen as leading by example there, really hard to see something stick.
I think the other thing that we see as a challenge, especially with earlier stage companies that are really kind of still finding their way, is the challenge between sort of agility and consistency. Oftentimes strategy is choosing, right? And you talk about sort of the choosing a path you want to go forward, like a lot of companies struggle with knowing what exactly that path is, you know they’re in a new market, they’re building a new brand, and I know you’ve worked with some really big companies that are in a leadership position, but you’ve also worked for companies that are early stage company, that are brand new categories or in brand new sub-categories, so knowing what that’s going to be or should be going forward, that’s a risky thing and so how do you counsel leaders to have a level of confidence and to be bold enough to choose a position and kind of stick with that?
Lindsay: I love this question and I think it’s one I’m always trying to understand better because it’s another paradox of leadership is being firm while also being flexible, it’s kind of I feel like in some ways like parenting, like there’s being really true to some ideals but not attached to exactly how that looks in real life. I tend to do with startup founders, especially if they are anxious about making a choice, is first starting with some things like why did you start the company, like why is this something that’s so meaningful because likely there’s something everlasting in that sentiment that won’t change regardless of how the company evolves and pivots, there probably is a sole we’ll have this kernel throughout the company. So there actually usually are things that the founders do not want to change and some people would call that more mission vision values, it’s a great place to, especially if it helps to sort of ungrip a little bit from the desire to always be able to change your mind, I bet if you really think about it there are things that you don’t want to change. So that’s the first thing.
And then the second thing is there’s nothing sacred about when you select a brand promise, you’re selecting one that really resonates with the customer audience that you are trying to serve. What they need is going to change and that’s nothing to take personally and it’s nothing to celebrate if it doesn’t change, it’s neutral. Some markets are going to evolve and it’s actually incumbent onto you to evolve with them, and it will evolve, I think the tendency is for people to think that it’s going to change more than it will, what’s going to change is the product and the way that the customer interacts with the product, that relationship, but the underlying human being behind this is still going to be a human being, so there’s a lot actually does remain the same.
If it helps to stop the analysis paralysis to just start, like what’s our promise today? Then that alone is really worthwhile, there’s no need to make it this sacred, sacrosanct thing that you never shift, it will, and that’s healthy too, that’s actually the empathetic way to lead a business, as well as to know that it’s going to be a dynamic process to iterate and to refine and sometimes even to pivot.
Matt: Love it. Well unfortunately we are out of time, the world needs a Dollywood update here shortly but really appreciate Lindsay joining us today, Lindsay Pedersen, author of the new book, Forging An Ironclad Brand, sometimes brand can feel like it gets really complicated like I’ve read some brand textbooks in my day that they’re dense, they’re super dense and hard to read and what I love about Lindsay’s perspective here and her book is that it look you can make it complicated, but some of the foundations that she’s talking about these are business truths for companies that lean in can be far more successful and sustainable so thank you everyone for joining us today on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.
If you’d like to share this episode with others on your team, you’ll find it in a couple days up at salespipelineradio.com, we will have a transcript summary of this conversation up on heinzmarketing.com in about a week as well. And we’ve got some awesome guests coming up the rest of October, November, into the fall as we head down the closing stretch of 2019. But for today from my great producer Paul, my name is Matt Heinz, thanks so much for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.
Sales Pipeline Radio is sponsored and produced by Heinz Marketing on the Funnel Radio Channel. I interview the best and brightest minds in sales and Marketing. If you would like to be a guest on Sales Pipeline Radio send an email to Sheena.