The Importance of Brand Positioning

In a fiercely competitive, fast-paced B2B landscape, establishing and maintaining a memorable brand identity is crucial.

Brand positioning is a strategic tool that helps businesses burn a distinct impression on the minds of customers. (Why do you think it’s called “brand”?) It is a marriage of art and science that should clearly define how a brand and, therefore, a business or product is perceived in the marketplace. As Einstein said, “Art and science are branches of the same tree”.

Brand positioning is far more involved than simply showcasing products or services. You must establish and effectively communicate a compelling value proposition that resonates with your audience, with the aim being to build meaningful and long-lasting relationships with new and existing customers.

In a crowded marketplace where consumers are inundated with countless options, a well-defined brand cuts through the clutter, enabling businesses to differentiate and be easily recognised. A brand should be a beacon for all marketing efforts, consistent and unwavering across all of today’s marketing platforms and channels.

Moreover, a strong brand position implies credibility. Instilling confidence in consumers and making them more likely to choose one brand over another. This competitive advantage can lead to increased market share, customer retention, and ultimately, higher profitability.

Brand positioning is not a one-time endeavour but an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and adaptation to keep up with evolving market trends and consumer preferences. By staying attuned to the changing landscape, brands remain relevant and maintain their competitive edge.

In short, brand positioning is a strategic cornerstone for any business seeking sustainable growth and success. It defines the essence of a brand, sets it apart from competitors, and communicates its unique value to consumers. By investing time and effort in crafting a compelling brand position, companies can create enduring emotional connections with their target audience and become an essential component of their customers' lives.

The importance of brand positioning cannot be overstated. That’s why it’s equally if not more important to stress how easily a good brand can be ruined.

Destroying a brand can happen quickly and the damage can be very difficult to reverse. The wonders of the digital age hold much promise for accelerated exposure but can with equal speed and ferocity reduce a brand's reputation to rubble. What was so diligently won can quickly be lost due to a poor customer experience, a perceived lack of transparency (“fool me once”), inconsistent messaging, competition, and many other variables. The warning “Here be dragons” applies now more than it did in medieval times.

That’s why, once established, maintaining a brand is so crucial. Recovering from a knock – or a crash in extreme cases - can be a long and often difficult process to address the issues, rebuild trust and consistently deliver on renewed promises. Prevention can be time-consuming, but it’s far less of a burden than the cure.

Look through the prism to find the light

The French marketing expert, Jean-Noël Kapferer, developed (no doubt being conscious of his own brand) the Kapferer Brand Identity Prism, which is a useful framework for understanding and managing brand identity. Kapferer identified six key facets of a brand's identity, each representing a different facet of the brand's personality and perception.

Brand managers or their external consultants can create and maintain a brand identity that resonates by using Kapferer’s prism to examine how their efforts and messaging will be perceived from varying angles that they may not be aware of. This level of preventive brand analysis, alignment and, if necessary, realignment is virtually essential to building a strong and meaningful brand in today’s marketplace.

The world of brand position rotates in a different way

The metrics used to position brands are evolving just as everything else is changing, too.

The rise of digital marketing and e-commerce has meant that traditional metrics are being complemented and sometimes replaced by far more precise, data-driven digital metrics. Online platforms and tools are now available to provide real-time data on customer behaviour, engagement, and conversion rates, enabling the user to make more informed decisions.

But despite all these new digital tools, as good as they are, there is an equally if not more important factor that has become apparent to anyone who is paying attention…

…. companies increasingly want partners rather than products.

Life is much easier and far more productive when you work with partners who share a common understanding, goals and work and sustainability work ethics. The products, as good as they may be, almost become secondary in terms of brand positioning. The best want to be seen with the best and good partnerships are a reflection on the brands of both parties. I would almost say that more data analysis is devoted to analysing and choosing partners than the markets or products these days.

So, how do you build a strong brand position?

The first thing a marketer must do is to understand the often very specific needs, preferences and personas that inhabit that target market space and align with their values and aspirations. This is not sycophancy or false empathy, it’s a genuine understanding of what is meaningful to them, which in turn directly informs what your marketing strategy will be to effectively reach them and, hopefully, persuade them to engage with your product or service.

Understanding your customers is based largely – assuming you’ve done your homework – on the data you have gathered in advance to define your goals for reaching that audience and, once you have, how you will nurture and grow it going forward. In short, define what success looks like to you, and your customers, with as much data-driven detail as possible before you even start.

Take a look around

What are your competitors doing? Analysing and fully understanding your competitors' strengths, weaknesses and market position – particularly as it relates to where you currently sit in that competitive hierarchy is absolutely essential. This can go a long way to helping you identify gaps where you can differentiate yourself from the pack, which brings us to…

Define what makes you different

If everyone in your sector is selling a widget, what makes your widget better, fast, stronger, cheaper or more attractive? Differentiation is essential and must be communicated through an unambiguous and compelling value proposition that lets customers know that you not only see and feel their customer points, but how your widget offers benefits that no other widget can. That’s a brand position you not only want to achieve but maintain.

Care even more about your reputation

Building a positive brand image and reputation is crucial. Trust, reliability, credibility, and customer satisfaction are part and parcel of how a brand is perceived by customers and stakeholders. Through consistent and effective messaging across various marketing channels, you can ensure that your brand’s values, benefits and competitive advantages enjoy a uniquely positive reputation in the market.

Demonstrate expertise and vision

Talk the talk to internal stakeholders, sure, but be sure to demonstrate your expertise to the outside world, too – specifically, your customers and prospects by sharing insights that are perceived to have genuine value. Use your industry knowledge to craft visions for the near and long-term future and publicise that expertise through speaking engagements, webinars, conference white paper presentations and many other personal content outlets to position you and your brand as the authoritative, go-to resource.

Make lots of friends, and stand by them

Developing and maintaining strong relationships with customers, suppliers and a wide range of industry influencers (i.e., business analysts and the trade media) can have a massive impact on positive brand positioning. Whenever possible and practical, collaborations, partnerships and endorsements from reputable people and organisations can substantially enhance a brand's credibility, which in turns vastly improves its ability to reach into new areas and new markets.  Even in a digital age (and we’re not dismissing digital media by any means) people ultimately do business with people they like to do business with or be seen to do business with. And don’t discount the halo effect of doing business with a reputable and respected brand. Just make sure the halo hovers around your brand.

The benefit of experience

Whatever you do, make that you have a well-understood and adhered to programme and structure in place to ensure that at every B2B customer touchpoint, the customer experience is a positive one. And I mean every – single – point. I emphasise this because ensuring consistency in the customer experience is as vital to your brand positioning as every other point made in this blog. Pleasant, helpful interactions, outstanding service and one-to-one support are all major factors in establishing a brand as a trusted and reliable partner.

Be fair with pricing, at all costs

No one likes getting ripped off, so without meaning to introduce a pun, avoid the perception of offering little or no value for money at all costs. Having said that, charge what you’re worth. Undercutting your competition by slashing your prices to the bone to win the business is very much like ripping someone off. Why? Because you’re not going to be in business very long. If (actually, when) you go bust, your customers are then left high and dry with no support, no option to resupply - if that’s what you’re offering - and no recourse for putting things right. This can be, and usually is, fatal to a brand. All you need to do is ensure that you’re a provide a great product or service at a fair, competitive price, whether it be discount, standard or premium. So long as the product or service meets the perceived value expected at that pricing level your brand positioning will be solid and largely unassailable.

Bring it on home

Establishing a brand position and – just as importantly – maintaining and, hopefully, enhancing it doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does take a conscious and consistent effort to get it right. Start by doing your homework with the data you have gathered and use it to craft an informed and comprehensive marketing plan that ties directly into how you want to be perceived in the marketplace and the results you want to achieve as a result of that positioning. These two aspects are not mutually exclusive. The ability to establish a comfortable and positive brand image that is known and respected, not just in your own sector but often outside it, can ensure repeat business for many years to come. Experts in the field, such as B2B marketing agencies, have a vast amount of experience to enable you to greatly shorten the journey from pole position to a positive, enduring, reputation as a winner.


If you’ve got this far and absorbed nothing else, remember this: The customer experience is more important than acquiring them in the first place. You can’t, of course, neglect that latter. That’s largely what brand marketing is all about. But it is crucial to remember that their journey doesn’t stop there, and neither should yours. You should be engaging with customers at every possible level throughout their active lifecycle, rather than focusing solely on getting them inside the tent.

The show must go on. Make sure your show is the only one they want to see.

How to Define Your Goals for Your PR or Marketing Campaign

The need to clearly define marketing campaign goals is such a pervasive, and sometimes contentious, issue that many businesses will actively defer, or even avoid, it and “hope for the best”.

That approach will almost certainly doom such campaigns from the start. Uncertain goals deliver uncertain results that are probably less useful that not doing the campaign at all.

Basing subsequent business decisions on inaccurate conclusions about what “worked” in a campaign will result in a descending spiral of effectiveness, often coupled with an upward trend in costs. This is never a desirable outcome but, unfortunately, is more common than you might think in PR and other top-of-the-funnel marketing activities.

So, what can you do to ensure from the outset that your marketing campaign is focused on the audience you want to reach and will resonate as a solution to achieve their own business goals? The following is a logical, step-by-step process to help you define marketing campaign goals for your clients, as well as for your own business.

First, establish and share a clear understanding of your objectives. What is your target audience? What market position do you want to achieve (and ultimately maintain)? Who is your competition (it’s not always the obvious candidates)? There are a number of steps that are actually quite simple, but far too many organisations decide to skip – or ignore – some of the crucial ones. We don’t do that, and we recommend that you don’t either.

So, what are they? For your purposes, they will most likely be found in your answers to each of these questions.

What will motivate your target audience to consider your solution and your point of view?

If you can answer these two questions honestly and in substantial detail, it will give your marketing campaign the considered insights you need to define exactly what outcomes you expect before you even start. Such practices not only produce better results, they enable you to learn about what didn’t quite go to plan and recalibrate for the future. Without that, you’ll end up making the same mistakes again…

….and again.

One marketing campaign does not fit all

When it comes to defining goals, different types of marketing campaigns require different levels of information to inform the decision required to define those goals. Yes, reaching customers in different stages of the sales funnel requires differing levels of data. But irrespective of the level required to influence a specific stage of the customer journey, from gaining awareness to prompting action, start your campaign by gathering as much data as you can.

It’s important to remember that accumulating data is not, by itself, your “goal”. It is only the first step toward reaching your goal. The combination of data generation and analysis is the catalyst that drives the ability to identify an achievable goal as well as provide the signposts that will guide you to the most rewarding way of reaching it.

Finding that measurable data

There are different requirements for marketing campaigns when it comes to defining goals: campaigns that produce data easily as a result of what you do and those that don't produce actual measurable data.

Wherever you get your data from, it’s important to ensure that it’s meaningful, and by meaningful, I mean measurable rather “vanity” metrics. Otherwise, your decisions, and the actions taken as a result, will be more meaningless than meaningful.

Measurable metrics are objective, meaningful and accurate indicators of performance, progress, and effectiveness. They are essential for making data-driven decisions and evaluating the success of a campaign. Examples of success indicators can range from everything from increased revenue to customer satisfaction ratings and engagement levels.

Vanity metrics may catch the eye because they do exactly what the name implies, the sparkling numbers, however, skewed they may be, are designed to appeal to the vanity of the implementors.  Basically, the figures are designed to reinforce an already held belief but are rarely an accurate reflection of the effectiveness of a particular strategy. If you are measuring “success” solely on the number of social media clicks, web traffic volumes or page views, you’re only viewing a small part of a much bigger picture that contains vital information about what your customers really think about you, your product or your service.

Get specific

One thing we often see from companies looking to define marketing campaign goals is that the goals are too vague. “Increase sales” is an admirable and pretty common goal, but “Increase sales by 20% by the end of Q4” is a substantive and measurable target to aim at. Whether you do that through brand awareness, content marketing, influencer leverage or in combination, be as specific as you can on what you want to achieve based on the data you will have already gathered and analysed. This applies to any goal.

Don’t take the easy road

There are times when you are doing campaign research or implementing strategies that, by their nature or restrictive scope, don't return a broad range of data. Whatever you do (and this relates to vanity metrics) don’t just pluck out the data that’s easy to measure. For example, if you’re running a PR campaign, counting the number of clips – although important and easy to measure in isolation, it misses out a lot of crucial information about the sentiment shown to message and the influence/credibility of the publication that’s covering your company’s news.

A final thought about metrics

We’ve found that a good resource to determine your approach to metrics is the AMEC framework.  AMEC has lots of useful info on its site and fundamentally posits that the process is all about working backward from defining your business goals to calculate what you have to do to reach them. They also clearly examine the concept of “inputs” (what you do), “outputs” (the coverage achieved) and “outcomes” (how people change behaviour). It is this last one, behaviour change, that is the most useful for marketers but is traditionally the hardest to measure. In fact, many B2B companies can't afford to sustain a programme long enough to fully achieve this measurement as it typically occurs over a considerable amount of time. However, they are many other metrics and goals that can be achieved… so long as the data used to achieve them is intelligently gathered and resourcefully applied.

And now, a final thought

Thinking through, and I mean really thinking through precisely what you want to achieve with a campaign has a direct correlation to its ultimate success. Done correctly, defining your ultimate goal and establishing a roadmap to achieve it can have a profound impact on your business goals.

The key is to ensure you do the research to ensure you are thinking about your goals from the point of view of the audience you are trying to influence, rather than looking inward from your organisation's point of view.

Like All Good Stories, The B2B Marketing Journey has a Beginning, Middle and End

The B2B customer journey from awareness to purchase can be a long trip.

Or a short hop.

In either case, the B2B journey to the product or service you offer is guided to some degree by your own awareness of your prospective customers’ buying process. That includes everything from the fundamental nature of what you have to offer, the multiple personas you are offering those benefits to, and their preferred method of purchase.

What I mean by the latter is that some prefer to take the scenic route, where they luxuriate in the view and absorb what they learn along the way, continually gathering confidence that they’re making the right decision. Others prefer the historic route, looking to discover what others have experienced in previous interactions with your company, product or service. And still, others just want to take a decision and arrive at their destination as quickly as possible - although that approach can backfire as a false economy.

Whatever the case, B2B marketing that helps to guide a customer journey is far more intricate than it might first appear, and that’s largely because, when done well, the process is far more complex than many who would offer their advice (for a handsome fee) would have you believe.

In this blog, we’ll examine certain aspects of that complexity and demystify some of it.

It won’t cost you a penny. But understanding it will improve your sales success.

So what, exactly, is a “customer journey”?

At Napier, we define it as the experiences a customer has while moving from becoming aware of a product or service to becoming convinced that they need to purchase that product to the time the customer has no further need for the product.

You can’t just establish a brand and expect it to do all the hard work for you. And you can’t just pre-sell what you have to offer and expect it to sustain an ongoing business relationship.

A customer journey, at least an enduring and mutually beneficial one, can be long and potentially circuitous, but understanding that journey and how best to undertake it in every unique situation is the bedrock of B2B marketing.

Although certain principles apply throughout, it’s abundantly clear that one size does not fit all.

The funnel of love

Traditional sales funnel models are well-known, and often over analysed.

That said, they still exist in B2B marketing, and they all start with…


It’s true. You can’t buy it if you don’t know about it. Awareness has to be the first marketing mantra. That’s why so much research, market testing, and product development takes place before you’ve ever heard of a new brand of facial tissue. The first impression must be a good one, and that requires a lot of research and insight to appeal to the personas you want to reach. You want awareness, but you want to be sure you get it for the right reasons.

That’s because if your potential customers become aware of you, your brand, and your product, with a well-planned marketing campaign they will develop an interest.

Use interest to drive customers down the B2B customer journey

If you’ve already managed to get on their radar through advertising, trade show participation, social media (both paid and organic!), Google ads, word of mouth, and many other avenues, you hope to capture – and hold – a prospective customer’s interest.

According to a 2020 report by Neilson Norman Group (as reported by Pragmatic Institute), you have approximately 10 seconds to communicate your value proposition to keep your prospect’s attention, and that can vary widely depending on the platform or media used to capture it. Whether it be LinkedIn posts, your website, content, personal visits or even TikTok, the adage remains the same: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Therefore, make it a good one.

Doing so can often shorten the buying journey, reducing the meandering that might otherwise divert your customer’s journey to your door.

But making a favourable first impression isn’t the end game. It is only the first step, and it only buys you a bit more time, and even then, not much of it. According to the Neilson Norman Group study, a good first ten seconds buys you another 20 seconds to make your case.

So be prepared to make those 30 seconds in total count. Make sure they know who you are, what you do, and why they should select you and your product or service before they choose one of your competitors, do it themselves, or do absolutely nothing.

Remember, your prospective customer always has a choice. You have 30 seconds, max, to convince them you might be the one.

Sizing up

In truth, customer journeys are long, require multiple touchpoints, and dedicated activity. Simple lead nurturing is not enough, and the evaluation stage can be extensive and gruelling, with multiple opportunities to build your case, or see it collapse.

This typical ‘middle’ stage can be difficult to manage and is heavily dependent on the customer. Putting in the ‘grunt’ work is vital to this stage, and mapping out your journey and tactics could be the difference between the close of a sale or leaving one out in the cold.  There’s no ‘right way’ to approach this middle stage, but it should be approached with the degree of flexibility you judge to be appropriate, based on the personas you are targeting.

If you’ve reached this stage, you’ve made it past the threshold and managed to get in front of your customer. The goal now is to stay there long enough to fully make your case, all in the face of interested, but intense, scrutiny.

Brass tacks

So, you got in front of the right people, made your case. and provisionally reached agreement. It’s looking good, When you’ve made it this far it’s tempting to reach for the champagne.

Not so fast. All you’ve done is succeed long enough to start the discussion on what it is all going to cost, both for you to deliver your product or service and for your prospective customer to purchase and maintain that product or service.

The wheels can still come off. They have not yet signed the cheque. It’s your job to guide their hand.

To do that, it’s important to know exactly what it will cost you to deliver your goods. Too many B2B marketers, giddy with the excitement of having ‘won’ the business, price themselves too low, sometimes even being the lowest – by some distance - of those bidding on a project.

This is a bad, very bad, idea and savvy prospective customers will instantly know that you are only ‘cost effective’ because you are going to go bust trying to deliver what you’ve promised at such a low price. That would leave your customer stranded with no service, no support, no spare parts and no recourse should things go wrong. Better to look to another provider with demonstrable evidence that they can support what they’ve promised.

Arriving at a realistic transactional price is one of the most prized negotiation skills in the B2B marketing canon and should be treated with the reverence it deserves. It’s soul destroying to get to that point of the customer journey only to find that here is no ‘there’ there… at least not at the price you need to charge to deliver, and make a profit. Your customer’s destination should be a lush and comfortable oasis for both of you, not a mirage that hides a stagnant, dying pond.

Sealing the deal

So, you’ve arrived at a price that is affordable and profitable for both parties. Now is the time to mark the occasion, but not with a bottle, a handshake or a photo – at least not quite yet.

The first order of business is for a payment to take place. Someone has to let go of some money, even if it’s just a token payment.

Each customer journey is different, but they all require the assured movement that comes with experience, integrity and due diligence, irrespective of the length of the actual journey.

Concluding that part of the journey with an exchange of funds is satisfying and promotes additional confidence that the path is the right one. However, the journey continues…

The delight stage of the B2B Customer Journey

Once you’ve made a sale, enjoyed success, and built momentum, the next step on the customer journey is to sustain the relationship. Service and support are vital components of the B2B customer journey and start the moment a product is purchased, or a service is agreed upon and rendered. What happens after a sale or agreement is not an afterthought, but an integral component of what you hope will be an ongoing program or repeat purchase.

Keeping a flame alive is achieved by investing the time and expertise required to replenish what fuels it, and that can be expanding the business relationship into new areas (account-based marketing); growing the number of standard devices being used throughout a facility; or keeping the client informed about, and encouraged to, follow upgrade paths as new products, services, and techniques become available.

This all goes back to revisiting what made the original relationship so appealing in the first place. The customer had a need that you were able to fill. If you’ve done your part to maintain the relationship in the ensuing years, your customer will develop new needs that you may also be able to fill as you grow together over time.

It is these long-term relationships that are the ultimate aim of B2B marketing. Despite the variable lengths and complexities of the journey, a professionally examined sales funnel never gets stuck, clogged, or overfilled. It is a conduit, graphically depicting the supply of the right product or service at the right time with, don’t forget, the right level of expertise to sell, service, and support it over the long term if desired.

The business relationship may, and probably will, end one day, but the sense of customer satisfaction will remain – and give rise to new customer journeys based on that perception alone, which is why it is so important to understand, and get right.

The customer journey is paved with good intentions, but touch points are the signposts that show the way

We all set out to do our best for our customers and guide their path, but in our enthusiasm sometimes overlook some of the most important parts required to help them move from interest to purchase.

There are numerous touchpoints, not all of them necessary in every case but all equally important when they apply. The following are the most common:

Triggers – Something will set off a prospective buyer to make a purchase. This can be a result of desire, need, happenstance or, in some cases, serendipity. Being in the right place at the right time - and having the confidence to recognise a mutual opportunity and seize the moment - can set the tone for an entire journey. If you’re lucky, these touchpoints can sometimes ignite.

Steps – Contrary to popular belief, the touch point stages of the typical customer journey are not linear. That’s largely because so many decisions are made by individuals who are buffeted by potential influencers along the way, each of which is yet another secondary touch point that has the potential to change the course of that buying decision at almost any stage.

A seemingly simple matter of buying, for example, a garden tractor will be heavily influenced by the nature of the desire. Is it for a small or large garden? Is it to maintain rough, cultivated, or manicured turf? Should it have options for additional mechanical apparatus as attachments? Is money an object? The answers to each of those questions – and many more - have so many variants that can keep a journey to buying your garden tractor on track - or derail it entirely. Your sensitivity to those touch-point variables and the way you nurture the B2B relationship through them will influence which of those paths your customer takes.

Key players

The key players in a B2B customer journey are less likely to be individuals and more likely to be part of a decision-making unit or buying committee. Both of those mean that you now have more than one touch point to influence and each of them - despite being on the same ’team‘ - will have different values and areas of interest that need to be appealed to. When they ask questions, they will want them to be satisfactorily answered in a way that addresses their needs.

You, therefore, need to be able to consider multiple angles outside your straight-up value proposition, recognising that what will be of value to the finance director may be of little or no value to the operator.

Buying style

People are different (go figure) and have different buying styles. To be successful, develop a sense of how to ensure that your substance appeals to your customer’s style. Each persona is a touch point that may have pre-existing preferences, i.e., they believe they know what they want and who they want to buy from (and if it’s you, you want to be sure it remains you).

On the other hand, do you know if they are open to any vendor that meets their criteria? Are they ‘certain‘ about what they want, or can they be influenced? Moreover, do they strongly believe they know what they want, but do they actually know what they need? The former may be the case in some instances, but guiding them toward the latter is where B2B marketing skill benefits both parties. Shining a light down a road previously untravelled will hopefully illuminate the one that leads to your warehouse door.

Value drivers of B2B customer journeys

What you value is not necessarily what is the real value proposition for a customer. You may love the fact that your electronic vehicle can get 300 miles on a single charge, but your customer may be more impressed by its lack of carbon emissions, and still another customer may be charmed by its powder blue interior.

It’s about being attuned to those differences and identifying what is actually driving a purchase decision - which may very well be something you had not considered - and appealing to that value with evidence that backs your proposition.

B2B buying concerns

Still, it’s a fact that B2B business customers won’t always buy from you, even if what you have proposed offers them very good value. They may decide that a longer, more circuitous route to get to where they want to be is, if not better value, at least comfortable and well-trodden territory. It is that comfort zone that may ultimately be of more perceived value to them than a demonstrably competitive product/solution from a new vendor, which may have been you. It is therefore important to assuage such concerns from the start by presenting a well thought out road to purchase, installation, commissioning and ongoing support that feels familiar and comfortable. It is quite surprising how many manufacturers and vendors fall victim to believing that the benefits of their product or service will be so readily apparent that a quick decision in their favour will be forthcoming, despite little or no effort to understand or satisfactorily address any concerns a buyer might have. Confidence in a product or service is admirable, and a vital part of the B2B marketing mix, but overconfidence, bordering on arrogance, can be a cold and steely deal breaker that catches many B2B marketers unawares.

There are no shortcuts

The path of a customer journey may not always be a direct one, nor may it be easy. Sometimes it’s long. Sometimes it’s short. But no matter what course it takes, it’s important to reiterate (so we will, again) that there is no one ’right‘ way to map it out. However, there are many ways to get it wrong, usually by neglecting to gain an understanding of the fundamental parts of the customer journey. The very fact that customer journeys differ is, ironically, what is consistent among them.

Take the time to build your customer journey

If we can leave you with anything, it is this: Think about the customer journey. Devote time, care, and attention to putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, both for the near term and the long haul.

Do extensive homework to make sure you fully understand where your customer wants to be and how you can help them avoid the roadblocks they will surely encounter along the way if they do it without your help.

Investing in this homework upfront will help you remember that B2B journeys- of any length are often complex. That potential for complexity – with many variant factors being introduced into the marketing mix on the way to a single sale or long-term contract – means that in certain cases it might be a better option to divide the overall journey into smaller, bite-size micro journeys that can be achieved, savoured, and learnt from to make the next stage smoother and even more rewarding.

This approach also helps ensure that you take into account the different personas that will have a stake, not only in the outcome but in the longer-term service and support for the account.

You do this by keeping a close on opportunities, as well as missed ones, that can be analysed, assessed and, if necessary, repaired or improved, thus securing customer satisfaction and an ingrained desire to do business again in a way that promotes the good business fortunes of all parties.

Remember, your customer’s journey is ultimately going to determine yours.

Make sure it’s a good one.

Digital Marketing Trends 2023

David Cunningham, Account Manager at Napier, shares his insights and outlook on what digital marketing trends marketers can expect to see in 2023, and how these will shape the future of digital marketing. 

Digital marketing is transforming our business and personal lives.

Just ask any artificially intelligent device, service or programme.

But will the intelligent assistance currently rendered by the like of Google Analytics, Mailchimp and Hootsuite give way to a new wave of artificial intelligence (AI) that we’ve not yet envisaged that will forever change our living and working landscapes… again.

Don’t bet against digital marketing taking on new forms. The evolution of digital marketing, account-based marketing, automated marketing and the increasingly ubiquitous nature of podcasting for education, insight and entertainment is only just beginning and is set to grow exponentially.

From the birth of cool to the future of digital marketing

From the time we are born, our preferences are shaped by exposure. In a pre-digital age, this was largely by happenstance. When the ice cream van arrived in your neighbourhood, its cheery jingle from three streets away meant only one thing, it would soon be in front of your house and, mum and dad willing, you were going to have a good day.

It wasn’t digital marketing. But you could argue that it was a primitive form of account-based marketing, i.e., providing new and improved products and services (flavours!) to an existing fan base. The person who composed the ice cream jingle – and the company that owned and operated the van – knew that it would trigger a response in a market that it already had. The aim was, this time, to attract little brother, sister, neighbour, cousin (and more than a few grownups) and make an improved clutch of sales.

Moreover, by following the same route most days at approximately the same time, an expectation grew, and a loyal following developed, which is today replicated in digital marketing with regular, compelling content that makes the consumer crave more.

Ice cream van jingles worked. They still do. And in digital marketing in 2023, the modern-day equivalents of a catchy jingle work even better. The vast amount of data gathered by individual sales that is subsequently fed into automated marketing algorithms that can now anticipate how many children will be on each street corner, what time, what their favourite flavours are and – in 2023 and beyond – what kind of car they are likely to favour when they’re old enough to drive, what trainers their teenagers will prefer, and what their grandchildren’s favourite video game will be.

It really is becoming that sophisticated. Modern-day digital marketers know this, but many organisations are too often deterred by what they perceive as complexity when, in reality, AI-based marketing tools and the applications that run on them can do much of their marketing job for them.

The difference between intuition and intelligence

Intuition and intelligence will continue to have their place, but in 2023, human intuition will be marginally more likely to get it wrong. That’s because there’s nothing digital about intuition. Facts are facts. Data is data. Intuition, on the other hand, has been and will always be an educated guess. A satisfying and often prescient guess to be sure, but always with an element of chance.

Digital marketing, AI and account-based marketing on the other hand not only leave less to chance, but in 2023 will break new ground in their respective – and collective when working together - ability to embolden senior decision makers to rely on signposts to the way forward that will be clearly demarked by digital marketing surveys and results. Online surveys have become much easier to develop and deploy, and the results more precisely targeted and, therefore, useful.

AI hogs the attention because it’s what often creates it

AI receives a great deal of attention, and rightly so. (It’s also probably aware that it’s getting it.) The almost limitless abilities of AI to substantially improve everyday lives, corporate profitability and the environmental sustainability of both is unquestionable and will continue to gather pace as it sweeps the globe, partly out of economic need, partly for the common good, but mostly out of global necessity.

For example, AI-based sensors can already pre-empt forest fires by using their existing knowledge and predictive abilities to alert authorities to condition changes.

Frictionless, i.e., contactless shopping is already taking root in many urban areas around the world, using AI-based sensors to track patrons and what they pluck from a shelf or a rack, debiting their accounts as they walk out the door.

Such devices also substantially reduce the age-old problem of theft, which we all ultimately pay for through higher prices and insurance premiums. AI in isolation may not reverse the rise of inflation, but it will almost certainly help to slow it’s advance. Retail marketers – digital and otherwise - take note. AI is your friend, and that of your customers.

A separate but no less profound trend is the accelerating ability of AI and machine learning (ML) to replicate everything from artwork to written text and, in some cases, deep fake humans at levels that are disconcerting. Not only does this beg the question of what is “real”, but perhaps more importantly, who ultimately “owns” what is produced. Current laws around the world are still somewhat vague about how to determine if an AI-generated piece of art that closely replicates the style of a well-known, real-life artist can be determined as original, or plagiarism. Although, digital marketing in 2023, will continue to advance as a field of study and highly respected profession, “digital detective” will become a rapidly growing field of employment, too.

One thing AI, ML, and the advantages its digital marketing counterparts will not slow, despite their ability to reinvent end enhance new brick and mortar retail experiences, is e-commerce.

E-commerce – the elephant in the 2023 digital room

With its almost limitless potential, e-commerce will continue to evolve in ways that will make it easier than ever to find – and anticipate – what you want and, occasionally, make you aware instead of what you actually need. Anonymised data about your browsing and spending habits will further permeate the digital landscape and enhance the opportunities presented to learn more, consume more, and, importantly, conserve more.

The need for conservation and, by default, sustainability will continue to be a major focus across the digital landscape. It can be argued that the large server farms that underpin the digital connectivity we take for granted are themselves huge energy consumers, but it can be equally argued that the intelligence and techniques they are enabling drive smaller and more efficient devices, processes and products are more than offsetting the energy consumed to power them. The energy- consumed-to-benefits-gained balance will steadily tip in the direction of benefits gained, in part because the server farms are themselves devising new ways to increase their efficiency.

So, how will this affect B2B companies that have fully understood and embraced – or not - digital marketing as their bread and butter? What’s in store for them in 2023? Let’s have a look.

What does data mean to digital marketers in 2023? Pretty much everything.

The acquisition of data – lots of it - is more important to businesses than ever. However, the way that data is gathered and stored has changed due to the introduction of new privacy laws around the world.

What that means for digital marketers in 2023 is that their clients and employers will be even more insistent about asking those responsible to gather and analyse data within the legal restrictions and guidelines set out in multiple regions. This means that a boost to investment in CRM systems and associated databases will be required or, at the very least, a refocussed budget to help drive high-quality marketing programs that will need to focus more on strategy than the mechanics of delivery. The increase in costs to do so will be readily born by some, but for others, it will be a purchase order too far. To remain competitive and deliver the expected results, higher and more detailed data gathering, and the resources devoted to it, should be factored into the overall cost of doing business before launching a campaign rather than as an add-on, which can often prove too little, too late.

Security – a greater focus for digital marketing in 2023

Because of data’s increasing value and importance, it will be no surprise that maintaining its security will be an even greater focus in 2023. I can’t emphasise this enough, legislation surrounding data privacy is increasing rapidly, and for good reason. Companies are using data privacy to gain competitive advantage because the best way for them to achieve and expand on their Sales and Marketing successes is through good databases. But to do that, “data hygiene” must be practised, which ensures “clean”, up-to-date databases. Ageing databases are a real problem, not only because the data becomes increasingly bad as it ages, it also becomes more vulnerable to theft and/or attack.

Email marketing in 2023: It’s not spam. It’s the new marketing genius

It will be no surprise to anyone that one of the great success stories of digital marketing, email marketing, will continue its rise as part of the key marketing trends in 2023.

Email marketing has proven to be one of the most effective ways of generating qualified leads for new product or service launches, and ultimately closing sales, and it will continue to thrive. Moreover, new automation techniques enable these messages to be sequenced far more effectively and be more finely tuned to specific personas.

One of the primary reasons email remains a highly effective digital marketing tool is that almost everyone has at least one email address, and many have several, which makes it far more likely that an email from a brand name - new or existing - will land in at least one inbox with a message that will resonate with the recipient. That’s because at some point, the recipient has shown some degree of interest in that brand, its product, or that of an affiliate. The algorithmic techniques used to refine those targeted emails are improving all the time and digital marketing firms will do well to invest the time and budget necessary to ensure they stay up to date with the latest developments and evaluate how they may/may not benefit specific clients.

But whether its email or any other kind of electronic marketing, it’s almost entirely useless without content.

Royal content- a fundamental marketing trend in 2023

Content will continue to be king in 2023, and the creativity required to generate compelling content will be equally regal. Although we have already seen that AI can be used to approximate the work of great masters of art and literature, it is not (yet) capable of original thought. Digital content must be compelling to stand out in the face of increasingly abundant competition. This has always been the case in the analogue world, but an almost infinite amount of competition in the digital world means that creativity has never seen such a high premium. Every single piece of content you generate for a client has to not only get noticed on multiple channels and platforms but be engaging enough to compel an action by the recipient on each of those platforms often, in the digital world, in real-time. Therefore, consistent and highly targeted campaigns must in a sense be transcoded from an analogue idea to a digitally delivered counterpart. This is an art form in which human beings remain superior, so long as they can translate their ideas and calls to action to the rapid return expected in the digital realm. 2023 offers immense opportunities for creatives, as long as they are operating in an environment that nurtures and encourages such talent.

Much of the challenge for digital marketers’ centres on the fact that consumers now, more than ever, expect to receive everything the day before yesterday. In metaphorical terms when they hand back the menu over their right shoulder, they expect the surf and turf platter (with veggies) to descend onto the placemat in front of them over their left. However, real-time digital messaging platforms can reach customers and collect their data (aka, their order and preferences) very quickly indeed, which is highly valuable to digital marketers because they can make better, and faster use of that data. Moreover, by storing that data, the next interaction with that customer will be even faster and more targeted to their preferences.

In 2023, influencers will gain… more influence, but beware.

Although brand managers and digital marketers are keen to make even more use of influencer marketing, they must be increasingly careful as to whom is unleashed on TikTok, Instagram or YouTube on their behalf. Careful thought must be given to whom to collaborate with, if at all. A brand can take years to build, and influencers can strengthen that brand to unprecedented levels. TikTok and Instagram are not currently seen to be particularly effective in B2B marketing campaigns, although this could change as the digital landscape, especially within B2B, continues to evolve.

It’s true that brands may benefit from certain associations, but they can also be swiftly devastated by the wrong ones. The reward for the right kind of associations and endorsements – real or implied – on such platforms may show signs of increasing relevance in 2023, but so will the risk. In other words, if you go that route, be especially careful of the company you keep on those platforms.

Digital customers in 2023: I want it all, and I want it now

When I say that consumers want it now, what I’m referring to is what sociologists refer to as instant gratification. What was “good enough” in 2022 will not be acceptable in 2023. Digital customers are in the driving seat and if they want you to turn left, you need to be trusted to do it with precision. A split-second delay or diversion and your customer will be off to another supplier who they feel has credibility, understands their business and respects their wishes. That means that you must not just react but, rather, anticipate such requests, often based on historical behaviour predicted by the data you have already stored, to get your offering off the mark that much quicker than your competitors. AI and ML can help with that a lot, but it’s the digital marketers who must establish the precedence and clear the path to closing the deal.

Using External Specialists for Digital Marketing

Outsourcing digital marketing services will be an increasingly attractive option in 2023. Not everyone has the staff and the expertise to do it in-house and stay within the resources available to them. That’s where the benefits of outsourcing digital marketing services become even more attractive. With multiple digital platforms to address to be cost-effective, external specialists will have the modern digital business tools necessary to deliver across most, if not all of them.

Preparatevi a essere internazionali

Although the majority of online content is presented in English, multilingual content creation is flourishing. The exponential growth and accuracy of machine translation (MT) are gaining a great deal of traction with digital marketers because it marries advanced technology with the skills of native language translators to produce content that more accurately represents the marketing message in local languages rather than get it embarrassingly wrong. For many companies, the global market has always been such, but business was largely conducted in English (Britain’s greatest export). That will remain the case for many interactions, but in the digital domain, 2023 will see far more translations to/from local and regional languages than had ever been possible before. A metaphoric Tower of Babel may return, but it will be a compelling attraction for marketing, consisting of truth, accuracy and compelling messages rather than a mythical mountain of hopeless miscommunication.

Digital Marketing and Messaging: The cost of living

From a practical standpoint, digital marketers will need to recalibrate their messaging to account for the challenges posed by fluctuations in the cost of not only doing business but in their customers’ cost of living.

Messaging strategies must therefore be sensitive to these economic realities and take steps to ensure that what they’re saying is relevant and will resonate in a positive way. It also means being more sensitive to trends that result from near- and longer-term cost-of-living anomalies. Digital marketing offers exceptional flexibility for skilled specialists to put their digital tools to good use for their customers and prospects and, hopefully, simultaneously help them deal more effectively with uncertain times.

Will platforms remain the same?

Media platforms, particularly social ones, will change a great deal in 2023. The balance will increasingly shift from tools typically used for personal visibility to becoming significantly more useful for business in terms of relevance and even more precise ad targeting.

For example, recent upheavals at Twitter clearly illustrated that users will not hesitate to wrestle back control of their content and data for use on other platforms.

It is all but certain that new media platforms will soon emerge that – if not sweep away all that came before – substantially diminish them in scope and importance. Who remembers Altavista? Yes, MySpace is still around, but is little more than a music sharing hotel lounge.

The point for digital marketers is to be on the lookout for these new platforms and devote resources to assessing their near-and long-term potential for clients. It’s not about chasing after the next big rainmaker (or even creating it) but being conscious that they will inevitably arrive, and soon.

Video marketing in 2023: Ready for your close-up?

Consumers like video. Actually, that’s incorrect. They love video, and if you don’t already, you need to love it, too.

The reason is that video has a way of connecting that is immediate and engaging. Despite the preponderance of AI, ML and the like, people still buy from people. More importantly, they buy from people they can relate to.

While an e-commerce platform or contactless retail outlet may actually handle a transaction, the recommendation or “how to” that drives a consumer to a certain product or service is often delivered over video. It is therefore incumbent for digital marketers to improve their video production standards and, if they do not have the capabilities in-house, work with outside agencies that have a track record of producing likes at the very least. Demonstrably increased sales figures, even better.

And it’s not a one and done proposition. Successful campaigns are built on multiple exposure to multiple pieces of relevant content on multiple platforms. That’s why the content must compel visitors to a site or platform and leave them eager to experience the next “chapter” in a narrative.

What does digital marketing look like in 2023?

Digital marketing in 2023 will be far less about the number of followers your organisation has and far more about having the “right” kind of followers. It’s an age-old trade show cliché, but as with most cliches, there’s a wisp of truth in it. “It’s not the number of visitors. It’s the quality”.

And quality visitors to a digital marketing campaign are drawn by and will return to, quality content. That’s where you get to the customers that matter.

Of course, they all matter. But some matter more than others.

In 2023, use your data to make sure you know which is which, and that you have the right tools to exploit them.


Napier Shortlisted for the 2022 Electronics Industry Awards and Instrumentation Excellence Awards!

Napier has been shortlisted for the 2022 Electronics Industry Awards and Instrumentation Excellence Awards!

We are delighted to announce that Napier has again been shortlisted for the Electronics Industry Awards (EIA) in the ‘Most Outstanding PR Agency’ award category. We are equally thrilled to also be shortlisted for the Instrumentation Excellence Awards, a brand new award for the industry, in the category of ‘PR Agency of the Year’.

This is not the first time we’ve been shortlisted for EIA’s Most Outstanding PR Agency award but every acknowledgement is deeply gratifying and very important to us. We love the work we do, and strive to create, develop and implement winning campaigns for our clients.

Voting for the Electronics Industry Awards is now open, and we humbly ask that you spare a few seconds - right now – to vote for us here.

The inaugural Instrumentation Excellence Awards ceremony will take place in parallel with the Electronics Industry Awards on Thursday 27th October at the Grand Connaught Rooms, Covent Garden.

Voting is also open for the Instrumentation Excellence Awards, and you can cast your vote here.

We appreciate your support!

Napier Passes 2022 PRCA CMS Accreditation

We are thrilled to share that we have passed our annual PR Consultants Association (PRCA) Communications Management Standard (CMS) audit for 2022.

Having previously received the CMS Gold logo in 2021 as recognition of Napier holding the PRCA CMS accreditation for 10 consecutive years, this year’s accreditation is further testament to the foresight and professionalism of Napier’s management, staff and support teams worldwide. It is also clear evidence of our commitment to best practice methodologies for business development, personal and professional growth, and client campaign management – all of which are particularly gratifying given that much of it took place in the face of the lingering challenges posed by the outbreak of the global pandemic.

This is yet another outstanding achievement for the Napier team, with additional acknowledgement to our clients for helping make it all possible. Congratulations and thanks to the whole Napier team!