The industry in which I work is a strange one.
Opta and our competitors are essentially selling something completely intangible. Noughts and ones flying down a pipe and ending up on a screen – sometimes a TV, sometimes a laptop or a tablet, maybe even a newspaper.
We collect the data from sport across the world and send it out around the world. Location is largely irrelevant, as long as the final product is accurate and timely. The end users know very little of the process involved between the action occurring and their consumption of it.
This creates an interesting marketing challenge. How do you differentiate yourself in a world where the product can’t be touched, and the differences should, in theory, be negligible between suppliers?
There are ways you can do it with your product, of course – at Opta we believe we collect more interesting and detailed data. We believe that we can deliver it more quickly and in a format that is easy for our clients to use. But I’m sure we’re not the only ones who say that kind of stuff.
We’re a premium supplier. But getting that message across in a way that people understand can be tricky.
This is why, as the guy tasked with addressing this challenge, I try to concentrate on a couple of key things.
Firstly, I massively believe in building trust in your brand through focusing on attention to detail in all areas of your work – the ones that people will see, and the ones people won’t see. The excellent Bryony Thomas calls it “sweating the small stuff“.
You can tell a lot about the final output of a company, or an individual, by the energy, effort and focus they put into other things. This is especially important when you can’t pick up a product and see and feel instantly how well made it is. Attention to detail is reassurance.
The other thing I believe is tremendously important is the power of design. We have two graphic designers within the marketing department at Opta, and I couldn’t imagine running a B2b marketing department without this resource.
Everything we do that is client facing (and a lot of stuff that isn’t) goes through the funnel of our graphic design team. Armed with robust brand guidelines and a fearsome attention to detail, they ensure consistency of output and help us to elevate even the most simple piece of communication into something that helps to reinforce our status as a premium supplier.
Whereas a premium FMCG product can invest in packaging, point of sale or above the line advertising to reinforce their position, we can’t do that. The only thing that really differentiates suppliers of intangible goods (at least at the stage prior to “sampling” the product) is brand.
And I think you can go a long way to addressing this issue by focusing on how you address the other stuff.
It does matter. All of it matters.
Building a brand a series of a million little decisions: take care with each and every one of them.