🐻 The Power of the Mascot
Why B2B companies are missing a trick in not giving a face to their brand
In The B2B Bite, I break down the most interesting marketing stories into fun-size, actionable chunks to kick off your week.
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This week, while mindlessly scrolling through Netflix on my quest to find something half decent to watch, I happened upon a trailer for The Land of Steady Habits. I can comfortably say that, after sitting through all 120 seconds of it, it looks great. I also have next to no idea what it's about.
Netflix has the amazing ability to create teasers that are both extremely compelling and utterly opaque. For sure, I've added the film to My List to never watch at some point, but I couldn't tell you anything about the plot other than it stars Ben Mendelsohn and who starts drinking with a teenager I think was in Fargo once.
And that's a problem. As marketers, our mission isn't just to grab attention. Anyone can do that. Take your clothes off in a shopping mall, sure people will stop and look, but it's unlikely they're going to ask you out for coffee.
Our skill is in convincing potential buyers to give us the thing that is the most precious to them - their time. And to do that, we need to overshare. We need to make it as easy as possible to understand our product, how this can be backed up, how much it costs and how it can be purchased.
This is hard. We have to consider sacrificing the things that, for many, are the indicator between success and failure. Things like putting a case study behind a registration wall. Of course, we all know it's a better user experience to just remove that step. But in doing that we limit short-term, quantifiable results, like leads.
But this is where the power of a brand comes to play. Customers will willingly hand over their details to the companies that continually produce excellent work and don't try to make it difficult for their customers to see it. It may take longer, but the relationship is ultimately built on stronger foundations.
So what's the takeaway? Give value away freely and don't be afraid to sacrifice immediate gain for long-term competitive advantage.
🐻 The Power of the Mascot
There was a collective 'thump' heard around the world this Tuesday as the technology world's jaw hit the floor at the eye-watering $27.7 billion paid by Salesforce to acquire Slack.
There's enough literature out there on the interwebs around the ramifications of this deal. But the thing that stuck out to me was this Instagram post from the software company when announcing the deal. Why? Because of Astro.
Developing a mascot to personify your brand is not unheard of in marketing. The Michelin Man, Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger, Julio Pringles, Colonel Sanders - these are characters recognised the world over to represent some of the most-loved B2C brands.
But in B2B? Much more of a rarity. And that's where Salesforce bucks the trend.
Developed in 2014 originally for a t-shirt to be given away at the company's Developer Week, Astro, the gender non-binary space explorer, has gone on to become a stalwart across much of the marketing at Salesforce. They are meant to represent the themes of community and inclusion, an illustration of the company's equality values.
And they are not alone. They have since been joined by Codey the Bear, who inspires makers everywhere to build great things, Appy the Bobcat, who encourages entrepreneurs everywhere to live their dreams and many more characters who all inhabit and explore the fictional land of Salesforcelandia.
So, why develop a mascot?
They embody your values. With a mascot, you are able to immediately project your goal, mission and purpose in the world without saying a single word.
They make for great storytelling. You can use them to engage and entertain your audience on social media in ways other corporate brands can only dream of.
They enable an emotional connection. Without a face, you are simply another brand logo in a sea of brand logos. A mascot gives your brand personality and stickability.
In today's B2B world, where the noise of bland case study after bland case study is deafening, anything that can give a company a personality should be considered. That's not to say everyone needs to go out and satisfy their unfulfilled childhood dreams of creating cartoons for their brand. But done right, mascots are a good way to build an emotional connection with your customers.
Why is this important? Because B2B customers have a lot at stake when they buy from your business. Your product isn't something that can be discarded easily if it doesn't work. When a B2B buyer invests in your business, they're putting their name and career on the line often in the form of thousands (sometimes even millions) of dollars. So when they make a decision, they don't do so lightly.
So while a mascot may not be the factor that tips the scale in favour of a purchase, it can at least convince a buyer that your company is worth consideration.
Loved happening upon these twenty-one B2B marketing and branding clichés to avoid at all costs from Alex Clarke.
Take five minutes to read this Twitter thread from April Dunford on effective brand positioning against competitors.
Christina Garnett broke #MarketingTwitter this week and it was an amazing thing to see.
...and one more thing
Every two weeks I sit down with a marketing leader to lean how they hit their goals by thinking outside the box - and dig into how this can be applied to other B2B businesses. Here are a few of my most recent episodes.
You can also find the B2B Better on Apple Podcasts and almost all other podcast directories.
And that's it! See you next week.