Land and Expand

By: Ted Nelson   |  May 30, 2017

It’s a classic business strategy fueling so many of today’s restless marketers. Everyone hates the way it sounds, but I’d estimate 85%+ of B2B business plans that we get briefed on are predicated upon this simple model. Where it gets interesting is when you land as one thing, then expand as another.

That’s exactly the challenge posed to us during a recent conversation with a senior marketer in a F500 technology company. A company with a rich B2B hardware legacy driven by a value based ubiquitous device that has landed them a beachhead presence in the world’s offices. The problem is their class of devices have become commoditized over the years, and they now seek to move into higher value added products, services and solutions.

This got us searching for examples and models to help frame the challenge and generate fresh thinking around approaches to leveraging legacy brand equity into fresh tilled soil.

In thinking about this through the lens of clients we’ve worked with, a clear divide arises between those for whom this approach is embraced by customers vs. resisted. The warm customer embrace occurs in cases where a broader solution is articulated, anchored in a changing technology or marketplace landscape that elevates the entire conversation. And this brand ambition is then communicated across all paid, earned, owned and shared touchpoints – vs. just another ad campaign. The result is that it’s not “you trying to use your advantaged position to sell me something else” but rather it’s “you who know my business helping me solve a fast-emerging problem or capitalize on an arising opportunity.”

We’ve seen the success of this approach with our clients Sprinklr and Akamai. Sprinklr’s governing brand idea is “Enterprise software for an un-enterprise world” which is all about rewiring the front office for the realities of a world in which social media has empowered customers to an unprecedented extent. And Akamai’s governing brand idea is “Faster forward,” anchored in the imperative of always needing to push the limits of speed and capability based on meeting customer demands. What these two overarching brand ideas have in common is that they create a platform for a bigger conversation across all touchpoints. One founded upon customer-first understanding, rather than an inside out sales based perspective trying to unnaturally cross into other functional areas when not invited.

On the other hand, our AutoDesk client has struggled to break into adjacent spaces. They’ve long attempted to move from the office of the architect and the foreman’s trailer to the actual jobsite. On paper this makes tons of sense in a world in which the digital tablet is fast becoming as ubiquitous on the job site as a hammer and nails. The challenge is that AutoDesk has struggled to articulate and embrace an overarching brand idea that connects those two very different worlds of design and build. And as a result, success has been incremental and slow at best.

Obviously, a powerful over-arching governing brand idea that can serve as the connective tissues between two adjacent worlds is only the starting point for an integrated solutions sale. But it is a critical first step because it forms a common ground for conversations between those who know and trust the company for their legacy solutions and those influencers in adjacent spaces who need to welcome this new brand into their world.