Thinking about rebranding? Or maybe you’re still in the process of creating a brand for your business. Either way, never create B2B business marketing materials before laying out your Brand Blueprint.
Unfortunately, we’ve met many potential clients who put the cart before the horse. Companies that didn’t have a marketing plan and needed to further refine their brand but were still planning new business marketing material anyway. Think B2B business brochures, spec sheets, and anything else you’d put in a media kit or hand to potential customers at your trade show booth. These companies wanted such B2B marketing materials ready BEFORE everything else, which is a non-successful approach.
As an entrepreneur, I totally get why they didn’t want to dive right in. Complete rebranding, new web content, a fresh marketing plan, and new initiatives to drive inbound marketing can be a sizable expense. And it’s quite the endeavor–they don’t even know if they’ll like working with us in the long run.
A smaller, more affordable starter project makes sense. Until it doesn’t.
You can’t build B2B marketing materials on dust
When you plan B2B marketing materials without a Brand Blueprint, there’s nothing to go on. It’s like building sandcastles just to be swept away by the waves. Even if something remains, the result isn’t quite right.
We did take on one of these gigs back in the day. The owner wanted us to redo his B2B business brochures ASAP. He was in full-on hiring mode for new salespeople and desperately in need of something to hand out to leads, and his brochure supply was almost tapped out.
I tried to get him to let us lay out a Brand Blueprint and a style guide before we got down to business. He didn’t bite. Then I suggested we at least update the website copy first, and he didn’t relent. So there we were, working with a very amateurish mock-up brochure that he provided and his suggestions (which flew in the face of best practices). We were also told that the info we needed would be on the website.
Using his mock up and the website, we drafted something compelling, in line with best practices, and pretty dang attractive. And the client hated it, mainly because what we had written in the brochure was wrong… because his website was out of date! Everything we had in the document was incorrect.
Are you ready to embrace change?
The ugly truth about that client is, even if his content were up to date, it wouldn’t have been a good scene anyway. All of the information you use in your B2B marketing materials could change after deciding to go in a new direction with your brand.
It’s rare that a client with no marketing background (or who didn’t get any help from a consultant) manages to nail the Brand Blueprint. The voice, tone, mission statement, values, and differentiators are often based on what sounded good to the business owner and what they like, rarely on what they think folks would like.
Moreover, the content is often arbitrary and inconsistent. Most of the time, when marketers get their hands on a rebranding project, everything changes. We like documented marketing strategies. Every piece of content and marketing material we produce in your name will have a purpose.
It may seem like too much effort for crafting some marketing materials, but a Brand Blueprint will do so much more for your brand than just change the face of your brochures. You can use it to increase the efficiency of all your marketing channels. A documented B2B marketing strategy is 313 percent more likely to generate success. Why settle for less?
Putting together a more cohesive marketing strategy could bring new things to the table. You get well-documented buyer personas, a new logo, and even a new approach to the way you communicate with your audience.
In this scenario, creating B2B marketing materials first would only add heavy boxes of obsolete B2B business brochures to the scene. If you use them, you’ll dilute a brand on the rise (not good). If you don’t use them, you’ll toss valuable resources into the nearest recycling bin (also not good).
How to build a Brand Blueprint like a pro
As you can see from my example, doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right audience is everything. That’s why at Impressa, we like starting with a small consulting project. This step enables us to either create the Brand Blueprint or evaluate the client’s existing content marketing strategy.
We know you have salespeople going out there, shows to attend, and networking to do. You want something in your hand that puts your best foot forward, and shiny B2B business brochures or spec sheets seem like the answer. But regardless of how good the text reads and how crisp the images are, they won’t get you the results you’d see if those were produced after you’ve actually defined and refined your brand.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution that puts companies out there from day one. You need patience; defining a brand and its audience requires time and hard work. You need to go back to square one and remember WHY you do this to be able to define your brand’s core values on which to build your marketing strategy.
So, before creating your marketing materials, you should decide how you want people to see your brand. Check out our Brand Blueprint Checklist and start building an effective marketing strategy right away.