By Tobin Lehman
It’s not very often that I get to talk about brand when talking about B2B marketing. This world is typically filled with hard-core analytics data and lead funnel metrics that lean more toward science than art. Yet, as a healthy cross-section, it’s always good to look across the fence at our brand-based brothers and sisters to learn a little bit about what we could be doing differently. This is one of those times.
Why is the Drive-Through at Chick-fil-A So Long?
Maybe it’s just my Chick-fil-A. But the incredibly long drive-thru line at Chick-fil-A boggles me as a marketer. I do love a chicken sandwich, but I cannot understand waiting in line – in a car – for 25 minutes for it.
Clearly the drive-through has lost its purpose. It cannot be faster to wait in that line than to go inside. This likely says a lot about our culture (which might take a different post), but clearly the drive-through line is not faster. And it’s a delicious sandwich, but I can’t say it’s that delicious. So what compels people to sit in line that long in a drive-through for a chicken sandwich?
Short of doing some actual research, I’m going to make a hypothesis: it has to do with brand. It has to do with the same thing that holding a Starbucks cup of coffee does for a coffee drinker; the experience associated with the product means something more than the product’s inherent value.
The CPG or consumer packaged goods world thrives on brand. We have our favorites, whether it’s Crest or Colgate, Pepsi or Coke, or some other delightful brand. These brands mean something to us, whether in a way that’s emotional, historical, or sentimental. They hold a value beyond the product or service itself.
Yet the power of brand in B2B businesses seems nonexistent.
Why Brand is so Hard In B2B
The first reason brand development is so hard in B2B marketing is that business-to-business products are typically custom or a high-volume product – or not even a product at all. Because it doesn’t have a mass appeal or a mass offering, there isn’t much community around a product or service. Yes, you may have referrals; yes, you may have a widely-used B2B piece of software, but it’s not a household name. The social sphere around these products are small, so community is harder to establish. Customers have no collective experience with your product or service, which makes establishing a brand harder.
Similarly, another reason B2B brands are hard is due to the fact that few things in the B2B space are emotional. They don’t arouse any major delight or joy. They may bring a sense of convenience or success to a business, but rarely are they at the top of the conversation docket at the dinner table or the cocktail party.
Your friends will not envy you because you have the latest Canon triple cassette copier at your office. They will not be jealous of the CPA you use. Frankly, they may not …read more
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