Back in 2009-2010, Toyota spiraled into what was the largest car recall in United States history, eventually recalling a total of 9 million vehicles worldwide. The recalls were the result of mechanical problems that caused unintended acceleration, leading to a number of preventable accidents and even several deaths.
But by 2014, Toyota had regained its image, topping the charts at #1 in brand perception according to the 2014 Car-Brand Perception Survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. And this is despite the fact that Quality (90%) and Safety (88%) were rated as the top 2 most important factors when buying a new car.
Content Creates Public Perception
Today, branding is so much more than an image or slogan. Thanks to the Internet, today’s consumers have the ability to go much deeper into a company’s brand. Consumers want to know who your company is, whether your company aligns with their core values, how you treat your employees…and most importantly in the case of Toyota: how you respond to customer complaints.
To even begin rebuilding what was arguably now completely shattered consumer confidence, Toyota took to social media, creating content on Facebook and Twitter to inform nervous consumers about the situation. They even put on a Digg Dialog with then President and Chief Operating Officer of Toyota Motor Sales (USA), Jim Lentz.
Toyota also created an online recall hub for consumers, where they honestly and transparently helped customers navigate fact from fiction amidst the media frenzy surrounding the recall. On top of that, they launched “Auto-Biography” on Facebook, amassing over 5,400 positive Toyota ownership stories from loyal fans in just one month. …and this was just the beginning of Toyota’s massive comeback to win over consumers and put the past behind them.
So you’re not Toyota. That doesn’t mean you can’t apply these same ideas to boost your brand appeal (scandal or not)—even in B2B.
Your Customers Define Your Brand
Modern branding is public perception. You can meet or exceed customer expectations, or you can fail both yourself and your customers by not living up to your reputation. Today, your image is controlled by: 1. The content you put out there, and 2.) How your customers respond to your brand. Companies are expected to engage on every level, and even B2B buying decisions are based on trust relationships built over time.
Major brands understand this, and you’ll find them on every channel, trying with various levels of success to establish their companies as caring, humane brands encouraging you to have fun, spread the love, be healthy, be brave, and live life to the fullest.
The message has shifted from “we’re awesome” to “you’re awesome and we can help you be more awesome.”
Getting There: Building Your Brand Strategy
Developing consistent content with the power to convince and convert isn’t easy. It takes commitment and patience—but it’s worth it: your content marketing is your brand. Effective content marketing depends on your ability to convey your company’s authenticity, expertise, and guiding principles. If you weave a richly detailed tapestry of worth, you build trust and customer engagement.
To build an effective content marketing strategy, focus on your target market: answer their needs and address their pain points. If you’ve taken the time to get to know your customers, you know just what they want to hear from you. If your content strategy drives engagement and engagement results in more sales, you’ll know your strategy is on the money.
B2B companies (especially those with smaller budgets) are advised to work from a place of truth. Discover what your customers want you to be…and then be that. Sincerely. You’ll cultivate an emotional connection with your customers and your great content will make your brand shine.
Stop banging on the front door of your customer’s mind …when the side door is wide open! Content marketing IS your brand. Download this FREE guide, Side Door Thinking, to discover how you can use storytelling as part of an effective marketing strategy.
You’ll learn how to:
- Increase Your Referral Rate
- Increase Your Social Media Reach
- Leverage New Product Lines & Revenue Streams
- Earn Your Customer’s Loyalty & Business
- Position Yourself As An Industry Leader & Trusted Resource