Remember when the I Heart NY design first came out? Way back in the 70s? Yeah, this one:
Back then, this simple design was the height of cool. It was sleek, bold and totally iconic. It made designer Milton Glaser a household name. Go to New York today and you’ll still see it plastered over a bazillion t-shirts, mugs, fridge magnets – you name it. People love that design. It will forever be associated with the Big Apple.
You know what’s not – and has never been – cool?
I Heart London mugs. I Heart Rome t-shirts. I Heart Geospatial anything at all.
Because it’s cringey. It’s a cheap imitation. It takes no thought or creativity or originality whatsoever.
In fact, it’s worse than that. It’s taking something that everyone associates with one famous thing and doing a shameless copy-and-paste job instead of inventing something new.
In other words, it’s announcing to the world that someone else came up with a better idea than you, and the best you can offer is an imitation of it. But, I hear you cry, what in the world does I Heart NY have to do with my Geospatial brand?
When you pick up any geospatial industry magazine and take a look at the ads, you’ll notice that everyone’s producing the same old dross. This “safe marketing” is really shorthand for “safe and boring”. And it results in people passing you by.
More often than not, marketing in the geospatial sector is the B2B tech equivalent of putting I Heart Surveying on a mouse mat. Every company uses the same language. The same jargon. The same design layout. The same offers. The same *&^%$#@ features. The same channels and techniques.
Why? Because too many companies are nervous that they’ll get it wrong. They’re scared that if they try something different, they’ll lose their credibility and their customers.
So they look at what their competitors are doing and say, “Ah-ha! So that’s how you’re supposed to do geospatial marketing” – and they copy it as closely as they can. And then along comes the next brand in the industry, who look at what their peers are doing and they also say, “Well no one’s marketing any other way, so I guess that’s what works,” and they copy it, too.
And so on and so on, until everyone out there is doing exactly the same %^&*.
Now, I’m sure you can see the flaw in this plan. Marketing is about standing out from the crowd, and you can’t exactly stand out if you’ve all chosen to wear the same uniform!
[ctt template=”4″ link=”8LKbs” via=”yes” ]#Marketing is about standing out from the crowd #geospatial @EBTMarketing[/ctt]
One of my favourite marketing brains on this subject is Marianne Cantwell, an ex-management consultant who now helps people create a free range career that suits their personalities and lifestyles, building on their strengths instead of imitating other people’s.
As Marianne explains, many people decide to set up their own companies because they want to do things their own way. They know they can do it better, they have a great idea, they’re full of passion… but then they panic. They see someone else doing well, who is presenting or marketing themselves in a totally different way and they think they must be doing it wrong, so they strip out all the stuff that makes them unique and adopt a cookie cutter approach.
And, of course, it doesn’t work. Because if you look and sound exactly like someone who is already out there – especially someone who is more established – why on earth would a potential customer choose you?
Companies of all sizes do this, but it’s a particular problem for B2B tech companies of all stripes, because they are so terrified of sounding too casual or unprofessional. This is especially true in the very reserved ‘survey’ Industry!
But here’s the thing:
Professional doesn’t mean bland. It means dependable.
Professional doesn’t mean boring. It means sounding like you know your stuff.
Professional doesn’t mean aloof. It means connecting with your customers and winning their trust.
… And professional certainly doesn’t mean blending into the background. It means defining a genuine USP and then making sure that this is what your customers know you for.
Okay, that’s the pep talk over. What does all this look like in practice?
How do you stand out in the crowd? Give yourself that all-important edge over your competitors? And how do you do it in a way that’s consistent with your brand?
“You need to have a reputation – you need to be proud of that – you need to be able to tell your story, and you need to make sure that the customer of that product can really understand that. The easiest starting point when you’ve got a blank sheet of paper is really to think about: what does our customer want and how can we deliver that in the best and most exciting and engaging way?”
How do you find out what your customers really want from you? Simple: Ask them.
“There might be some really obvious things, there might be some things that take research. Research all the time. Ask all of your customers, past and present, how are we doing? Is the message getting across? What’s working for you? What’s not working for you?”
In other words, find out what your customers like the most about what you do and then make this your selling point.
For example, maybe the thing people love is your awesome customer service – the way your friendly staff have a knack for talking people through their options, helping them fix problems or demonstrating new opportunities in a way that doesn’t bamboozle them but doesn’t patronise them either. Brilliant! Why don’t you release a series of troubleshooting YouTube videos, send out weekly tips to your email list, and make your support page super-prominent on your website?
Or perhaps you’re a team of super-nerds who are obsessive about every nuance of the technology – and your customers love being able to geek out with you over what your products can do? Awesome! Publish under-the-hood and how-to blog posts that get right into granular detail. Re-tweet and post links to the most exciting developments in your industry. Film yourself taking new tech out for a spin. Maybe even interview some of the most important people in R&D in your line of work and publish this on your company blog.
Whatever your niche is, run with it. And once you know what it is your customers want, talk to them in their language. Cut out all the unnecessary jargon or icky sales-speak from your website, your social media pages, your emails and any materials you use to sell. If you’re excited and enthusiastic about what you do, show that in the way you write and talk about your products. Let your brand voice and personality shine through and you’ll build a far better rapport with customers.
Here’s the thing: people respect you because you provide something valuable. They respect you because you sell a product or a service that fixes a problem they have. They respect you because it’s obvious from what you say and do that you’re an expert on the topic.
[ctt template=”4″ link=”EZe3g” via=”yes” ]People respect you because you provide something valuable. #Geospatial @EBTMarketing[/ctt]
They don’t respect you more simply because you’ve sprayed the correct-sounding marketing phrases all over your website, or because you are dressed in a cookie-cutter suit and have successfully squashed your personality out of your pitch. You might not surprise anyone by towing the line and making sure you resemble everyone else in your industry, but they certainly won’t remember you either.
So be brave. Figure out who you are as a brand, get out there and own it.
Ready to embark on your very own voyage of discovery? Give us a call today on +447825517850 or SKYPE me elaine_ebtm to talk about how we can help you find your brand mojo.