Your buyer is on the internet making calculated, informed decisions every day.
What shows to stream, which publications to subscribe to, who they want to engage with, and which software to buy. But as buyers have more access to the internet and higher expectations from brands than ever before, companies need to find unique, scalable ways to bring their brand to market in 2021.
G2 collaborated with the CMO of Gong, Udi Ledergor, to share how companies can earn brand loyalty with the most discerning audience ever: the 2021 buyer.
Here are six things organizations of all shapes, sizes, and industries need to consider if they want to stand out in the most crowded digital marketplace in history.
1. Turn your employees into brand ambassadors
Your employees are not only the secret to your company’s success, but they are also the face of it. So as you build a strategy to bring (or reintroduce) your brand to market, start by building employee advocacy. And getting started is actually easier than you think.
Ledergor recommends telling your employees what’s in it for them: “As an example, explain to your sales team that if they like, share, and comment on our weekly blog posts, the LinkedIn algorithm will expose those reps to more of their prospects in a more natural environment, strengthening relationships, and influencing opportunities.”
Once your employees begin to amp up their engagement, they’ll see the returns in their pipeline, and you’ll see your brand begin to explode.
Tip: Create a #SocialShare Slack channel where your brand team can share relevant posts and content for the team to engage with. Want to take it a step further? Block time every other week on your employees’ calendars to engage with your social posts.
2. Draw a line between your personal and professional branding
It’s not uncommon for your personal brand to integrate with your organization’s brand. Having that human element is critical to establishing lasting connections with your buyers. But you need to know how to separate the two.
If your customers associate you too much with your brand, if you were to ever leave, the brand could become less attractive in their eyes and you could potentially lose part of your audience with your departure.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, your company brand needs to be stronger than any singular individual’s brand.
Ledergor shares how Gong was able to accomplish this. He explains, “We had that concern in the early days of Gong, when all content pieces were published under a single person. Since then, we’ve created a much healthier mix of posting from our company profiles as well as several individuals, while also mirroring all LinkedIn articles as blog posts on our website. So any employee leaving the company wouldn’t be holding our audience hostage.”
Tip: Diversify the voices speaking on behalf of your company. Different departments, levels, and demographics will go a long way to connect with a broader audience and lend to building more depth in the voice of your company.
3. Take an early stance on social issues
Gone are the days of quietly sitting back and waiting until the dust settles on political and social issues. No matter how big or small your company is, your buyers are expecting you to take a stance, and if you don’t, you can count on losing them to the competitor who did.
But when, where, and how do you get involved? And how do you simultaneously build brand awareness and trust with your buyers? The good news is that by getting involved, you can quickly build brand awareness and trust.
At Gong, the executive team decided to specifically address social justice issues like racism and increasing awareness of underrepresented groups like women, the LGBT community, and people who identify as BIPOC (black, Indigenous, and people of color).
In Ledergor’s experience, it’s never too early to take a stance. And the larger your company becomes, not only will your buyers expect it, but your team will, too. After all, if you’re asking your employees to be brand ambassadors, there needs to be close alignment between shared values. And ultimately, the benefits of speaking up early and often far outweigh the “risks”.
Your buyers will be able to make confident purchasing decisions because they trust your brand; your employees will feel like they can bring their full selves to work and advocate on behalf of the company; and – as a bonus – you might actually make an impact in the world.
Tip: Don’t overthink it. Being among the first to speak out for what’s right has the propensity to cause a dramatic and powerful impact on the industry and the world, and it’s far more powerful for brands to lead a conversation than to simply follow along.
4. When it comes to DEI, you can’t please everyone – including your employees
It’s an unfortunate but very real fact that while everyone is on their own DEI journey, not everyone supports implementing sweeping and intentional DEI practices.
But now is not the time to tone down or take pause on where you stand when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion for your staff and your customers. So what do you do when a customer or employee doesn’t agree with the positions or changes you’re looking to make to be more inclusive? Frankly speaking, you should move on from them.
When the team at Gong decided to implement their commitment to DEI in 2020, they had to make some tough, but ultimately morally sound decisions regarding how they handle employees who may not agree on certain causes.
Ledergor explains, “Do we want to hire racist and homophobic people? No. Do we want racist and homophobic people to feel included and welcome? Also no. We identified our values, we set boundaries, and we stick to them. You’re entitled to your opinion and beliefs, and at Gong we have team members from every religion, ethnic group, and sexual orientation you can imagine. And what we hold each of them to is the expectation that they don’t exclude others or treat anyone unfairly.”
Tip: Make it clear where you stand, what you tolerate, and what you don’t. Your website is a perfect place to showcase your DEI values both for prospective employees and customers to see. The right people will want to work for and buy from you even more. The wrong will filter themselves out.
5. Be consistent
A core tenant of building a strong brand is consistency, so naturally your involvement with social justice issues and DEI principles is no different. A common criticism of brands in 2020 was “performative behavior,” meaning brands would jump on the social justice bandwagon one week, and go back to business as usual the next.
Choosing to take a stand isn’t something brands should do to feel included or a part of something in a moment, but rather to establish a consistent, long-lasting relationship built on integrity, transparency, and trust with their buyers and employees.
Gong strives to be as consistent as possible without pandering or simply jumping on a popular bandwagon, and they do so by building a cadence of actual programs and messaging around the social justice issues they support across social media, their website, and major business choices.
They also track diversity, equity, and inclusion KPIs on a monthly basis, just like all other business KPIs. It’s important to their brand that they stand for equality, equity, fairness, and inclusion – not just during Pride Month or on Juneteenth – but always.
Tip: Make social justice another part of your social media strategy. When building out your social media calendar, schedule a weekly post to showcase your support and activism to create social justice.
6. Turn your customers into your biggest fans
A happy customer is a vocal customer, so turning your buyers into brand evangelists is actually a lot easier than you think. It’s just a matter of channeling that enthusiasm for your company into something tangible your brand can use.
And getting them to leave positive feedback or useful customer testimonials without any incentivizing is actually quite easy if you get your tact and timing down. Gong has never paid for a customer story, but in 2020 alone, they created 34 complete success stories. So what’s their secret?
“We want to get the best, most genuine stories so we never offer incentives for customers to share their successes with us. But our process is really quite simple: We start by asking our Customer Success team for great candidates. They know exactly who the most enthusiastic Gong customers are, and who’d be most willing to share that enthusiasm.
But from there? We simply approach them and ask. More often than not, we get a yes. When we launch the story, we’ll send them a small token of our appreciation like a care package to say thank you. That’s gratitude, not bribery.” When you build a relationship based on trust, transparency, and have a great product, you’d be amazed at what happy customers would do for you, whether you ask them or not.”
Pivot like a pro
Interested in hearing more from Udi about how brands need to show up in 2021? Check out our webinar where we go into even more detail about how to build visible, memorable, and trusted B2B tech brands.
Don’t miss out on other G2 webinars where you can learn from the experts about how to sell more, grow more, and utilize all G2 has to offer to your advantage.