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Brand Engagement 3.0: From B2B to H2H

Recently, I had the pleasure of being one of the first guests on a new podcast series from Communiqueso, a collaborative effort between two professional services marketers and SMPS friends, Kate Erdy, CPSM, and Laura Ewan, CPSM.

It was great to sit down with Kate and Laura to discuss “Brand Engagement 3.0: From B2B to H2H (Human to Human)” – a topic that’s been on my mind for some time now.

Our conversation focused on key differences between the traditional practice of B2B branding and marketing communications and a new approach that centers around building trust and likability of professional services brands.

The Value of Likability

Companies don’t do business with companies – people do business with people. What’s more, we all want to do business with people we like and trust. How many times in your professional career have you heard, “I like them and I trust them to do the job.”

Humanizing Brand Communications. Often professional services brands use impersonal, jargony, corporate language that has no hope of building likability and trust. This is partly rooted in age-old communications practices that focused more on advertising than engaging and partly rooted in the fear of not being perceived as professional. However, being professional and acting professionally doesn’t have to be at the expense of being engaging, connecting and likable.

The shift is happening, and social media gets at least some of the credit for bringing about a different way of communicating – from broadcasting our brand agenda to participating in a two-way conversation.

Liked by Whom?

In the multidisciplinary world of professional services firms, with its many stakeholders and voices, defining audience personas can be difficult. Additionally, there’s some confusion between “personality” and “behavior.” You first need to decide how you want your brand to come across (personality), but then realize that, just like a person, your brand may behave differently depending on the situation.

In a boardroom we sit up straight, imbue confidence and choose our words carefully. At a networking happy hour we act less formal and laugh a little louder but still conduct ourselves professionally because we are with clients and colleagues. And, of course, a Sunday night with friends could have us acting very differently. These changes in our behavior, however, don’t change our core personality, values and beliefs as human beings. Point being, when your brand shows up on LinkedIn, it will likely act a bit differently than it does on Facebook, yet it will always be recognizably your brand.

Will They Like Us?

To ensure likability of your brand, your corporate marketing needs to be based on your brand platform. Developing a compelling brand – promise, values and personality – will create the foundation for how your brand needs to act and communicate. Your brand personality must both fit your firm’s culture and attract your audiences, and your brand should act very much as the likable human your audiences would want to associate with.

Still, brand trust and likability don’t happen overnight. You wouldn’t expect someone to marry you on the first date! You first hope for that initial attraction, a spark, and then cultivate a stronger relationship over time.

There’s so much more to be said on the topic! You can listen to the podcast here and let me know what you think!

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