You might think that having a brand vision—values, an image, and a message—is more important for business-to-consumer (B2C) than business-to-business (B2B). That’s not the case. B2B customers care about their suppliers’ brand values and, often, those values don’t match up with theirs. As recent McKinsey research discovered, B2B companies don’t identify themselves as having open and honest dialog with customers, acting responsibly across their supply chain, or having values that fit with their customers’. However, all of these are among the most important factors in whether or not B2B customers perceive a brand as strong. So how can B2B companies change their channel marketing strategies in order to present brand values that appeal to customers?
Actions speak louder than words, and you can communicate a lot about your brand through the act of rewarding your partners with a sales channel incentive program. Following these four guidelines, you can operate an incentive program that sends the right message, and sends it loud and clear:
Use incentive technology that can get the job done.
First thing’s first: use the right kind of incentive technology. The dispersed nature of your sales channel mandates that you use an online rewards program, ideally one like Loyaltyworks’, that is mobile optimized or available through a mobile app. This is the easiest and most direct way to offer your channel partners compelling rewards. They instantly receive digital reward points for desired behaviors, and these points are immediately redeemable in an online rewards catalog with millions of merchandise, event ticket, and travel options.Speed, ease of use, and immediately apparent benefits—that’s how you pique your partners’ interest in your incentive program. Then you move into the really fun part: using the program to improve channel marketing and brand loyalty.
Research the needs and values of your sales channel customer base.
So what brand values and messages should your incentive program promote? You can base your brand messaging on findings like McKinsey’s, but you’d be better off conducting your own research of your customer base to find out what’s important to them. Offer your channel partners incentive rewards for submitting surveys about what they value in a brand they do business with. Use the results of this research to determine what your brand’s messages and values should be, then use incentive rewards to reinforce behaviors that reflect those values.
Marketing your incentive program the right way will help shape the brand image and values you want to project. Loyaltyworks’ incentive program communication tool allows you to take control of the program’s imagery and content, so participants know exactly what you and your program are about, right off the bat.
Educate salespeople using training incentives.
McKinsey reported that, “even in the digital era, our surveys show that personal interactions with sales reps remain the most influential factor—across touch points—for B2B customers.” Your sales reps are the mouthpieces of your brand, so invest in them. Reiterate important brand values in all your communications with your sales reps, incorporate those values into their onboarding, and continue reinforcing those values with incentives for ongoing training.
With online training incentives, you can deliver training and gather information through quizzes, surveys, and daily trivia. Instantly receiving reward points for participating in training creates a strong personal incentive for partners to further their education in your brand, along with professional incentive. Training incentives ensure channel partners remember your brand’s values and differentiators, so they can communicate them to consumers.
Run specific incentive sales promotions.
Once you know what your consumers want from you and you’re training your sales reps accordingly, you can also use sales promotion incentives to project brand values and control consumers’ perception of you.
Your sales promotions can “say” any number of things about your brand, so your options should never be limited. Using Loyaltyworks’ Performance Tracking module, you can schedule multiple, simultaneous sales promotions and restrict participation to certain, qualifying channel partner groups or products.
If your brand messages and values aren’t resonating with your customers, it’s either because your message isn’t making its way to them, or you’re not sending the message they want to hear. Chin up, though. Good channel marketing can help you establish your brand values and become a company that your channel partners trust. Channel incentives are a great way to not just tout your brand values, but act on them in ways your customers can engage with.