Sell Without Selling: How Your Brand Story Pays Off

Brand story. You’ve probably been hearing this phrase a lot these days—but if you’re a business that packages mulch or sells cement for commercial real estate construction, you’re probably scratching your head and thinking, “Story? I make powder that builders use to make concrete. What kind of story is that?”

But your story isn’t about what you do, or even about what your product is. Your brand story is about HOW your product impacts your customer. Make your story about your customer and it’ll pay off big time.

Think about Ford trucks for a minute. Ford F Series trucks crush the competition. They have outsold every other truck for 37 years—and every other vehicle for 32.

Ford really understands their customers. They show their trucks as dirty, beat up, loaded down, plowing through a swamp, towing impossibly large objects. Their story is hard-working pride, and they tell it well. You don’t see Ford truck commercials advertising its cushy seats, fancy leather trim, or the Wi-Fi in the cab. Instead, they focus on power, control, and their ability to help their customers get the job done.

That’s storytelling for sales, and it works.

So about that cement? Cement is a strong foundation to build on. It’s the bedrock of American construction; a high quality foundation that stands the test of time. Your cement is more than just ground-up stuff, it has history. Tell a story that ties cement to the success of the United States. Where would we be without it? When you stop thinking about cement and start thinking about foundation, you have a dynamic, exciting story that captures the imagination.


Your Content: Make It All About Your Brand Story

Once you’ve fleshed out your brand story and how it connects to your customers, it’s important to ensure your story is consistent across your content marketing. Every page can build on the elements of your story.


  • history,
  • use,
  • practical applications,
  • ideas,
  • and relationships with other products.

Sell Without Selling: How Your Brand Story Pays Off ... Because you can’t eat cookies without milk. In some cases, you might even partner with other companies.Because you can’t eat cookies without milk.

In some cases, you might even partner with other companies, like Ford and Hemi engines, or IBM and Intel processors. Give THAT a second or two of thought. Intel is a tiny circuit board, one of many inside computers. And it’s also a household name with a well-established brand identity. You’re not going to run out and buy a computer chip by itself (well, that’s true for most people, anyway) but knowing about Intel processors might influence your buying decision. It’s indirect, and it works.


Selling Without Selling

You may be wondering why you even need a brand story…and the answer is trust. Buying decisions, even in B2B, are based on relationships and trust. If you want to succeed, new sales are only part of the equation. Existing customers are your bread-and-butter over the long run.

After you’ve made that all-important first sale, it’s up to you to keep your customers engaged and interested. Not with in-your-face sales tactics, but by making your story something they want to be part of; something they want to share with their friends.

Ford knows that. As well-known as they are, they never stop reinforcing their brand story. Their iconic tagline, “Built Ford Tough” has been around for 36 years now, and they never deviate from a brand story that sells so well.



Side Door Thinking: Learn the smart marketing tactics you need to truly engage with more customers.Stop banging on the front door of your customer’s mind …when the side door is wide open! Learn how to create a great content marketing strategy that showcases your brand story. 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



Your Content Marketing IS Your Brand: Here’s Why…

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.

Your Content Marketing IS Your Brand: Here’s Why…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.

*record scratch*
Wait, what?!

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.


Side Door Thinking: Learn the smart marketing tactics you need to truly engage with more customers.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



Why You Should Care About Your Brand Colors

Your logo and brand colors often create that key first impression in your customer’s mind—and visual impressions impact customer response. To harness the power of visual stimuli, you need to understand the psychology of color.

Color invokes multiple layers of meaning, including instinctive responses associated with primal impulses and modern cultural cues based on familiar use…which means you can send a memorable message to your customers even before your first interaction.

So what do your brand colors say about your brand and your company?

Let’s take a look at some familiar logos and what their color choices represent.


Red is exciting, provocative and passionate, but red also conjures up images and feelings of fiery warmth and heat. It’s a popular choice for restaurants because it’s known to stimulate appetite. If you’re looking for dynamic, impactful and passionate brand colors, red is a good choice.

 Why You Should Care About Your Brand Colors


Blue is a popular color for corporate logos. Blue is calming and it represents professionalism, responsibility, security and integrity. It’s popular with companies and government institutions that want to inspire consumer trust. It’s an authoritative color. However, it should also be noted that blue is one of the most popular colors on the web. Twitter isn’t a deadly serious corporation, but can you imagine it in any other color?

 Why You Should Care About Your Brand Colors



Yellow is the color of the sun and can imply positive, creative vibes. But use yellow carefully. Yellow is often used in caution signs and has been culturally associated with cowardice. It’s often paired with red to stimulate appetite and makes a great accent color for other nature-related colors such as blue or green.

 Why You Should Care About Your Brand Colors



When considering new brand colors, carefully consider the visual impact your new logo and brand will have on your prospects and customers…and what impression you want to make. The right color speaks directly to your target audience and invokes a specific emotional response: fear, desire, trust, or even diversity.

Do your brand colors send the right message? Contact Cultivate and have our team of experts review your materials and get started on a brand analysis today.

P.S. Learn more about brand colors and their best uses. Check out this informative Marketo infographic:

True Colors: What Your Brand Colors Say About Your Business [Marketo Infographic]

3 Ways to Make an Impression and Attract New Customers

“If you build it, they will come” might be true of cornfields and dead baseball legends, but it certainly doesn’t apply to business. You can’t just open your doors (or launch your website) and wait for customers to line up. The competition is just too stiff.

If you want new business, you’re going to have to earn it by standing out from the crowd.

Here’s how…

3 Ways to Make an Impression and Attract New Customers

3 Ways to Make an Impression and Attract New Customers

1. Change It Up

When you’ve been in business for a while, you eventually develop a particular image. This is a good thing—it means you have brand recognition. But if you get stuck in the same-old same-old, it might become harder to attract new customers after a while.

Changing your tried-and-true formula doesn’t always work (two words: New Coke), but innovation always does. Don’t try to pretend you haven’t tried one of Dunkin’ Donuts’ seasonal flavors. Who could possibly resist a Mint Oreo donut for St. Paddy’s Day, pumpkin spice autumn yumminess, or a heart-shaped donut filled with glorious cookie dough around Valentine’s Day? Offer up something new, exciting and irresistible to tempt people who have never looked at your business twice…and drag old customers you haven’t heard from in a while back into the fold.

2. Mail Out Free Stuff

One thing will never change: people love to get free swag in the mail. You’d invest in promotional items for a convention or show, so why not send something out to homes or businesses in your area code (if you’re a local business) or to your social circle (if you’re an online business)? Recently, Dang Foods included a bag of toasted coconut chips covered in dark chocolate in a Klout Perks box…and let’s just say that was a really good idea. Dang Foods earned a new customer and a lot of free social media publicity for one little bag of snacks.

3. Host or Participate in a Charity Event

Getting involved in a local charity can be a great way to meet new people in the community and make a fantastic first impression. Some ideas might include handing out branded items like full, reusable water bottles at a charity walk or golf towels at a charity golf tourney. Think: things people will really use. Tacky plastic keychains are so 1980s and when was the last time you saw a calendar in use?

By handing out branded swag potential customers really want, you do more than put your logo in their hands. You demonstrate that you speak their language, appreciate their story and, most importantly: understand their needs.

The key is to match the focus of the organization with your business. If you sell sportswear, hook up with your local Pop Warner or Little League. Hand out free t-shirts, offer a discount on one item everybody needs (like cleats), or offer a smaller across-the-board discount on all items at the start of the season.

Not in retail? Partner with an organization like Project Management Institute (PMI). They’re always looking for speakers to make presentations at their meetings and you can take the opportunity to hand out something business people want, like a branded flash drive or an expensive-looking pen.

Once you’ve earned the attention of a new customer, follow through on the sale and keep building the relationship.  That’s what Growth Cycle Marketing is all about!


Growth Cycle Marketing: Free White Paper DownloadBONUS TIP: Continue Build a Reputation for Great Customer Service

Always remember you’re not looking for a one night stand. Long-term relationships are far more satisfying in the long run. One of the best ways to attract new customers is to treat the old ones so well that they tell everybody about it. After the faceless corporate depersonalization of 90s customer service, customers want contact with real people.

If you’re using our Growth Cycle Marketing techniques, you’ve got customer service in the bag. You’re following up on new leads, keeping in touch after the sale and beyond and staying on top of social media. Great customer service is the best secret weapon your company can have…and it never goes out of style.

For more information about keeping your customers on the hook before, during and even after the sale, download our FREE Growth Cycle Marketing white paper.

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