Dealer Research: Why Brand Story Matters in Manufacturing Marketing
For those of us tasked with marketing in the manufacturing industry, the to-do list can seem never-ending. From internal communications to brand awareness to sales channel support, measuring what’s most impactful is key to prioritizing your efforts to support business objectives and, of course, drive sales.
As we’ve worked with manufacturers in the last 30 years, we’ve observed one overlooked aspect of the marketer’s playbook: storytelling. This is especially true for manufacturers who sell through a dealer network. Without easy access to the end consumer, brands are reliant on a dealer to understand and remember their story when it matters most.
In this post, we’ll explore the data that supports the need for a strong brand story and key practices today’s marketers can use to empower their dealer network.
THE SHORT STORY: BRAND STORY MATTERS
Recently, we surveyed more than 250 dealers of big-ticket outdoor items like golf carts, jet skis, and snowmobiles to better understand the relationship between brands and dealers. We wanted to find out how manufacturers could better support their dealers this year.
The results of our research show that three-quarters of dealers say that a brand story is very or extremely important to their customers when they purchase a big-ticket outdoor item.
Dealers know what their consumers need to hear to make a purchase. When customers care, so do dealers. Manufacturers that sell through a dealer network need to create a powerful brand story, one that will enhance their relationship with dealers, and help sell their products to consumers.
WHAT IS A BRAND STORY?
If you do a Google search on “brand story,” you’ll find a lot of results on the subject. It may seem like an afterthought, but a well-crafted story is anything but that. It’s an essential tool you’ll need to sell and grow your products in today’s B2B2C market.
In a word, a brand’s story is its reputation. It’s the elevator pitch everyone remembers. From the dealer to the consumer to the competitors. Without proper attention, a story will develop whether you like it or not. A few examples of positive and negative brand stories you might recognize:
- Nike is the choice of the world’s best athletes
- Apple products cost more, but they are worth the price for experience and status
- Volvo protects your most precious cargo
- Tesla cares about the future of our world
- Comcast has the worst customer service
- Chick-fil-a has the best
In each of these examples, the story serves to strengthen the brand’s connection to its customers, typically with a strong emotional component. Emotion is just one of the key elements of an effective brand story.
A strong brand story should:
- Create a Narrative: A brand needs to produce a story that is unique and exciting, something that is distinctive and fresh and will set them apart from other companies.
- Provoke Emotion: Manufacturers should form an emotional connection with their customers, which will help them create an everlasting relationship with their target audience.
- Show Personality: A story should also include all the amazing qualities that make a brand stand out. This will persuade their customers to become their biggest fans and supporters.
THE POWER OF A GREAT BRAND STORY
The story behind Yeti. Yeti was originally owned by two brothers who loved the outdoors. However, they grew weary of lugging their supplies around in coolers that weren’t as tough as their adventures. So, they set out on an initial mission to build rugged coolers. We’re talking big-guy-standing-on-top-of-it-all-day-long, grizzly-proof rugged. When the company later turned its attention to travel mugs, the over-the-top quality was a priority. They engineered a mug that claimed it would “keep your drink as cold as science allows.”
The label says the 18/8 stainless steel, sweat-free design is “over-engineered for maximum ice retention.” And it’s not just good marketing-speak. The products perform, and they have testimonials on their website to support it.
So what is the value of Yeti’s great brand story?
- MUG WITH NO STORY = $15
- MUG WITH A GREAT STORY = $39.99
A simple and strong brand story will differentiate you from the competition and give you a competitive edge.
UTILIZE BRAND STORY TO IMPROVE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Our survey also found that 53% of dealers surveyed report that their focus will be on improving the customer experience this year, along with increasing in-store sales.
So what does a good brand story have to do with customer service?
Dealers can achieve a better consumer experience by using a brand story to make a personal connection with their customers. A strong narrative can help dealers relate and interact with their consumers. This will help dealers generate an effective strategy to improve the online and in-person customer experience.
There’s nothing more empowering for a dealer or salesperson than a great brand story they can share with their customers. Dealers are looking to manufacturers for help with improving their sales and marketing efforts. A brand can do this by creating and sharing a compelling narrative about its company and products. This can truly set the manufacturer apart from the competition.
In the end, a strong story produces a win-win situation for everyone involved: the brand, the dealer, and the customer.
Yes, a story matters. Take a look at your brand and see what kind of narrative you would like to tell. We can help your company tell a compelling story that will connect you with your dealers and customers.