Tuesday 2¢: Nobody complains about a cold Big Mac

In this week’s Tuesday 2 cents I contemplate brand promises and how B2B marketing needs stop faking the “me too” and differentiate by being authentic about what our companies are great at.

As marketers we are managing two brands.

The one that we create and curate, the promise of what we will do, how we want to make the consumer feel or how our product or service can help them, solve their problem and satisfy their needs.

The other is formed in the minds of our consumer, based on their experience, what they have heard, what they actually feel when they interact with our marketing, our people, product or service.

How satisfied our customer is with what we provide is built on this expectation and the gap between the promise we make and their experience.

If you visit a fast food restaurant and the burger you order is not piping hot, do you complain? Probably not. It’s an experience that’s slightly disappointing but is kinda expected and barely worth mentioning. Who would listen if you shared that story? Who would share your story? Who would be surprised? The brand promise of a burger chain is convenient, cheap and fast.

If you order a burger at a fancy restaurant where the brand promise is about the quality of the food, a lukewarm burger is going back to the kitchen. It’s remarkable, you would complain and share this with your friends and when asked for restaurant recommendations they will share it with their friends.

It’s an obvious example, but as B2B marketers, when we tell the story of our company and make our promises, we need to be authentic in our claims and deliver on them.

We’ve all seen examples of B2B cold restaurant burgers; the LinkedIn InMail from an agency promising to solve all our social media problems with their team of ninjas that doesn’t have a Twitter account, the tech company that talks about diversity with an all-white male board or the little known software company that claims to be the “leading vendor” in some generic category, but the business speak mealy words in the copy does nothing to suggest why.

I say “we’ve all seen examples” because my LinkedIn and Twitter streams constantly feature these things being called out. People notice inauthenticity and it’s an increasingly popular pastime to point the social finger at them.

As a B2B marketer, we need to find the things we can authentically lay claim to, not just read from the generic corporate playbook of our category and puff ourselves up to look like Microsoft, SAP or Adobe. There are reasons why we have customers, it’s these reasons we need to lean into. Talking about the things our customers care about, the reasons why they chose us, will find more people like them that will like the products and people like ours.

McDonald’s hasn’t created a brand story about piping hot fine dining, if you eat in McDonald’s you do it based on the motivation and feeling you have for the personally curated version of the McDonald’s brand that you have, probably goes along the lines of “decent enough when you are in a hurry” or dare I say “OK for a hangover”.

There is a pride in this and most importantly the opportunity to differentiate here. We shouldn’t focus on the temperature of our burgers if it’s not our strength and it’s not important to the customers, but on the things we get right, the reasons why our customers have chosen us.

If it’s fast, cheap and convenient – nobody complains about a cold Big Mac.

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