IT

How Does Your Brand Get Your Customer Laid?

Macbook

When I consult with clients and they struggle with the story their brand tells about their customer, my favorite shortcut is to ask, “How does your product or service get your customer laid?” I literally ask my clients this very question. At first, they’re shocked. But it works.

Strong brands help their customers solve problems, present a positive image to the world, feel empowered, feel accomplished, and feel like the hero in their own personal stories.

Think about what happens when you’re feeling like you’re on top of the world, feeling heroic, and feeling that everything is working out the way you hoped it would.

No matter which cliché you use—the feeling of having wind in your sails, the world on a string, or holding life by the balls—that feeling puts you in the mood for sex.

When I say having sex, it may mean literally jumping into bed naked with your partner. But it may also have a more figurative meaning: experiencing the exhilaration of neighbors or other moms in the carpool complimenting, fawning over, and praising you, as well as having your ego stroked and being appreciated your husband and children. All of these things feel great, too.

Branding is about making people feel so good that they want to take a roll in the hay. That’s it.

The IT manager as hero

The most successful and profitable brands in the world are created around people. Sure, some brands are naturally sexier than others, but why should a purchasing manager have less of an emotional connection to their microprocessors than I do to my shoes?

Let me give you an example.

My company works extensively with Dell Corporation on the enterprise side of their business, the part of their company that sells systems and solutions to the IT managers of other businesses. Traditionally, Dell treated enterprise IT managers as if they were robots—completely devoid of feelings and abstract thoughts.

What we know here at Sol Marketing is that each of those IT managers has a story they are writing for their own lives. That story involves them, eventually, getting laid.

If your brand can help that happen, you’ll have a loyal customer.

When I am working with Dell or with any other company that sells technology products and services to IT purchase influencers, I want the company to step outside of itself as a brand and step into the hearts and minds of its IT manager customer. That IT manager is a human being who has wants and needs and desires.

Conjure up an image of that person in your mind. Ask yourself, “What does success look like for that person? What does getting laid look like for him or her?” Then ask yourself, “How does my product/brand/service do that for them?”

Dell sells a lot of servers. The servers Dell sells go into racks that live in computer rooms and data centers all over the world. Servers don’t feel cool when you hold them in your hand. To the unindoctrinated, run-of-the-mill human, a server probably looks like a mess of metal and plastic and wires.

On the surface, a server just isn’t that sexy, nor is the Dell brand. A server is not like a bottle of perfume, a designer leather jacket, or a Ferrari.

So let’s do an exercise for illustration’s sake. For purposes of this exercise, take a walk in an IT manager customer’s shoes. Let’s say this particular customer is a forty-seven-year-old man. He works at a nationwide furniture retailer with stores in twenty-two states.

He has a need to put together an IT program in which all of the remote stores can send their transaction and inventory data to a central location at night. That requires a lot of computing power, remote access capabilities, and powerful servers and software—none of which are very sexy. All of those things must work together flawlessly.

If you think about what is unsexy about this IT manager’s job, it is a phone call from a store manager in the middle of the night.  Also unsexy is when the chief information officer comes down on him hard and says, “We did not pull data last night, and we don’t have the store-by-store results. My boss is up my ass for sales results, and because of an IT infrastructure issue and a network failure, we cannot do that.”

These are terribly unsexy things that can happen to this guy, and they absolutely can prevent him from getting laid.

The essence of brand strategy is to take that unsexiness and turn it around. To do that, you should ask, “How do we actually get that guy laid?”

How we get our IT manager laid

Dell does that by offering reliable products that they stand behind and develop with IT purchase influencers’ needs in mind. Dell is trying to give that IT manager the world-on-a-string feeling we described earlier in this chapter by delivering on its promises to him.

Dell’s goal is to make that IT manager the hero in his own story. It’s right there in their current brand manifesto: “The Power to Do More.”

Dell gives an IT manager the power to do more, not only with IT but in his life. Dell gets him home for dinner on time and inspires him with the confidence that everything back at work is functioning flawlessly, even when he’s not there.

Dell’s industry-leading uptime and reliability get him laid by preventing phone calls in the middle of the night when stores cannot send their data to the home office.

Dell makes sure the boss is not standing in the IT manager’s office at 8:00 a.m. the next morning growling, “Where have you been? The network crashed.”

These are the things Dell does to help him become the hero in the story of his life. Sure, Dell products are reliable, scalable, flexible, durable, innovative, and a good value. But it’s the way they make, sell, deliver, and support those products that enable their customers to “do more.”

How can you get your customer laid?

Take a moment to answer this same question for your own brand.

What does your customer need? What gets them love, attention, and affection? What could go wrong with your brand that would ruin their chances at sex?

By understanding the story behind your customer’s purchase, you’ll be better suited to ensure you are getting your customer laid. That’s the whole game.

Before You Start Branding, Answer These Three Questions

Brand Questions

We all know that many companies have a hard time getting their branding right. They have rebrand after rebrand, but their message never seems to hit home with customers. It seems helpless. After working with hundreds of companies in this exact situation, I’m confident to say that it isn’t helpless. They’re just making one fatal mistake:

These companies are focusing on the output of branding before adequately understanding their customers.

Many companies see branding as writing the perfect copy, choosing the perfect color scheme, and writing up a perfect brand message. This isn’t the case. These things might be the output of branding, but branding is one thing: understanding your customer.

This is a challenge. There are thousands of ways you can understand your customers, and many companies are paralyzed with understanding where to start.

From my experience helping companies understand their customers, there are three core questions that really get to the root of how the brand and customer interact. If you can answer these three questions, you’ll be in a much better place to start your branding process.

1) What does your brand say about your customers?

The first question for brands to answer is what it says about a person that he or she uses this brand. What does it communicate both to the outside world and to the customer him or herself?

This is important because, at its core, this is what a brand is. It’s a statement about the customer, and it’s crucial that, as a business, you know what that statement is.

Answering this question requires you to really get inside your customers’ heads and understand what they want to achieve in their lives, how they measure their success in achieving those goals, what they care most deeply about, and, ultimately, how the brand must deliver.

2) What is the singular thing your brand delivers that customers can’t get from anyone else?

The second question to understand is what the singular thing is that a person using this brand gets from it that they can’t get from any other brand.

In other words, what makes your brand singular and indispensable. What you’ll find, as you dig into this question, is that most of the answers aren’t tangible. It’s unlikely that your product has a feature that no competitors can provide. Instead, what commonly comes up are intangible benefits, like the ways the company makes them feel or the story it tells them about themselves.

3) How do you make your customer a hero in the story of his or her own life?

The third question requires an understanding of how your brand makes the customer a hero in his or her own life story.

Everybody wants to be the hero in his or her own story. Everybody wants to be the protagonist. Some brands may achieve that in an obvious way (like a fashion brand making the customer stand out from the crowd), whereas others might be more subtle (like an IT brand making the purchasing manager look good in front of their colleagues). No matter what the case, if you can answer this question, you’ll have loyal customers for life.


At a very high level, everything we do in branding is about answering those three questions.

Before you do any copywriting, design, or other branding outputs, take some time to answer those three questions. If you have trouble getting to the bottom of them, don’t worry. Ask your customers for help, and keep digging until you really understand them.

With this newfound understanding of who your customers are and how they want to interact with your brand, you’ll be on the path to defining a powerful brand strategy.

There is no summer vacation in marketing

How I learned to turn the summer doldrums into my secret weapon

by Sara Breuer 

Summer can be a tough time for getting anything done in marketing and sales. Entire weeks seem to be off limits for both generating leads and closing deals, not to mention getting approval on ANYTHING. Have you ever tried to reach someone on Monday, July 3? Or the Friday (or Thursday) before Labor Day? It. Is. Not. Happening.

Besides planning around those down weeks, marketers worth their salted caramel ice cream use the summer to get in shape for the busy fall season. Q3 is huge for so many businesses, from retail to enterprise B2B. Don’t go into it all flabby and pasty from too many Game of Thrones or Orange is the New Black marathons.

As I finished up my son’s “Camp Spreadsheet” — it’s how we track where he’s going, when, and for how much money each summer, not a place he goes to learn about spreadsheets — it occurred to me that I’m crafting a summer marketing camp for myself as well.

Summer reading list

Summer reading isn’t just for middle schoolers, and your list doesn’t have to be just books. Challenge yourself to find and read a blog or follow a new expert in your field – or a new expert in another field for that matter – on Twitter.

This summer I’m plunging headlong into reading several smarties who go deep into IT marketing and lean startup methodology. It was either that or Remembrance of Things Past, and frankly, there aren’t enough weeks in the summer for me to finish the Proust.

Improve yourself

Learn something new. Check out a new tool. Take a class. Do you REALLY know everything you need to about marketing automation or how to use Adobe Marketing Cloud?

My goal for this summer is to learn more about using LinkedIn as a social platform. It’s embarrassing to admit I don’t fully understand its capabilities, nor how to leverage them to their fullest.

Make new friends

It’s easy to get comfortable with the people you work with every day. Your team may be a well-oiled machine, but if you’re a marketer, you need professional friends in Finance and IT. You know, the people who don’t understand what it is you do all day. Make a point to find someone who can make your life a whole lot easier, and reach out to see how you can make her life (or at least her job) a whole lot easier.

I’m choosing to focus on getting to know the professionals who are in my business development group, Austin Business Link. In particular, I’m reaching out to see what I can learn from this group of cool, successful people who aren’t straight-up marketers.

When summer’s over, I won’t just have a killer tan and some Instagrammed memories, I’ll have some mad new skills and stronger relationships. Sure beats chigger bites and a broken arm, doesn’t it?

All branding is about sex

There, I said it.  

This statement isn’t just provocative; it tells you nearly everything you need to know about brand strategy.   Brands delivering bigger, badder, longer, faster, sweeter, softer, tastier benefits are nothing if they don’t help get your customers laid.

 

If you want long-term leadership in your category and market, you need to develop deep emotional bonds with your customers.  How do you do that?  You help them feel, look or be more effective in some way.  Those of you who are sexually active know that when you feel your best, you can get a sexy swagger.  If you use your imagination you can picture how your brand gets your customers out of the grocery store, oil field or office and into bed.

 

If you have a consumer product or brand it’s easy to make the mental leap from basic functional benefits to super-sexy-swagger benefits.  And if you think really hard you can probably come up with all the ways that using day-to-day brands – from beauty to food to consumer electronics – can get you the love that you want.

 

But what about enterprise brands?  I promise, you can make those connections too.  Let’s say you’ve got some kind of super-fast, super-light, super-super technology product you sell to enterprise IT managers.  You’re probably having trouble picturing how that product would help an IT manager get laid.  Remember, enterprise IT managers work in a super unsexy work environment often in thankless, grueling, under-appreciated jobs.  Start there, and think about how your product delivers benefits that give that IT manager a super-sexy swagger:

 

  1. Confident people are sexy.  Does your brand enable customers to triumph over the soul-crushing monotony at work, boosting his or her self-esteem?
  2. Successful people are sexy.  Do you give the customer an edge over co-workers that make them more valuable to the organization, securing greater financial rewards?
  3. Uninterrupted whoopee is sexy.  Can your brand keep the customer’s boss from calling him or her at home at night?

 

So, the next time you’re stuck in a rut communicating just about your brand’s features, speeds and feeds, breakthrough your idea block by digging in and thinking about all the ways your brand can get your customers laid.  Rich information about your brand’s benefits lies in this creative exploration.

Abila: a story that inspires possibilities

Spinning off and rebranding a market-leading brand presents opportunities—and challenges. When Sage Nonprofit Solutions, the nonprofit software solutions division of Sage Group, was sold to a private equity firm, the company needed a new brand identity. They also needed to keep their robust business intact while developing a brand platform that could grow with the new company.

Enter Abila. Enter Sol Marketing.

Sol gave the new company strategic guidance about its brand architecture, positioning and messaging. Sol’s work provided clarity around Abila’s commitment to “inspire possibility” as it provides software solutions dedicated to serving dynamic nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

Sol worked with Abila team on a go-to-market plan for launching the new brand for customers, channel partners, employees and the media. The Sol team partnered with Abila’s executive, marketing, HR and IT teams to create and deploy advertising, new sales collateral, website assets, tradeshow and event presence, partner sales kits, and launch events debuting the new brand.

“Sol Marketing provided us with the strategic vision and tactical assets we needed to launch Abila. Their work allowed us to uncover and tell our story in a way that truly sets us apart and sets the stage for our success and growth—and the success and growth of our customers. Their expertise in bringing a brand to life and giving us the tools to tell our story was indispensable to us,” says Sandra Bucklin, Abila Vice President- Marketing.