Can you “brand” the expectations customers should have in working with you, even if elements of those expectations are negative?
Some of the most successful B2C companies in the world leverage expectation branding, both the positive and the negative, to crush their competition. Why not B2B?
The most successful furniture retailer in the world, IKEA, has created a brand around their experience. You’re gonna have to find it, load it in the warehouse onto a cart without brakes, jam it into your car, lug it into your house and assemble it yourself. All for low cost, modern-looking furniture.
The second largest retailer in the US, Costco, has created a brand around you having to buy almost a gallon of ranch dressing at a time, or a half-dozen toothbrushes. Limited brand selection. Membership required. But - you're going to save money! The result is also a subscription model with over 90% retention.
At its core, if you want customers who stay, buy more and advocate, setting accurate expectations and consistently meeting them wins - even if pieces of those expectations aren’t great.
What expectations should a customer have in you and your solutions around...
- Your price?
- Your product quality?
- Your product features?
- Your service?
- Your values?
- The buying experience?
Decisions are triggered when we are able to make a confident prediction as to what our experience and outcome will be with a purchase. Our job is to help the buyer predict.
A prediction is hard to come by when the recipient is having trouble trusting the source.
We inherently and subconsciously don't believe anything is perfect. If you're presenting your products or solutions as all-things-to-all-people, you're (a) not helping anyone accurately predict, (b) not laying a foundation of trust and (c) driving the customer to do more homework on their own - or to a "no decision".
When we embrace what we give up to be great at our core, the conversation and relationship is founded on a bed of trust.
And by branding those positive AND NEGATIVE expecations, you...
- Draw customers in more pre-qualified, thus spending your resources' time more efficiently,
- Speed customer decision making, meaning faster sales cycles,
- Win a higher percentage of the opportunities you work on,
- Better qualify IN - which means more accurate forecasting,
- More quickly qualify OUT - which means losing faster, so you can spend your time on the opportunities you should win...or prospecting for more,
- You make it very difficult for any competitor to message and compete against you.
Look at the six categories of expectations above. Which ones are you focused on being the best? Price? Service? Which ones are you spending less time on so you can be the best at those other categories? Buying experience? Certain features?
I believe every company can not only do this, but excel because they do it right.
Are there B2B companies doing this today? Any stand outs? What do you think?