- If you don’t have a face attached to your brand, you’re missing the human element. After all, “people connect with people,” explains Darryl Praill, a marketing veteran and the current CRO of VanillaSoft.
- Since Darryl became the “face” of VanillaSoft, the brand’s webinar attendance has skyrocketed from eight attendees to more than 800.
- A company spokesperson doesn’t have to be an executive or an actor. Really, they just need to add value to your brand and have a unique, authentic personality. In fact, you might already have the perfect spokesperson on your team — you just don’t know it yet.
If you want to create a strong B2B brand, a good, recognizable logo isn’t enough. You also need a face, or a spokesperson.
“People identify with and connect with people,” says Darryl Praill, former CMO and current CRO of VanillaSoft, a sales engagement platform. “If you don’t have that, you’re putting yourself at a massive disadvantage.”
With more than 25 years of business experience, Darryl serves as the “face” of VanillaSoft. On any given day, you can find him leading VanillaSoft webinars, hosting podcast episodes, and going live on LinkedIn. In 2019, B2B Marketing Exchange named him one of the top 19 B2B marketers to follow.
On an episode of The B2B Mix Show podcast, Darryl explains why every B2B brand needs a face, and he shares his advice for finding the perfect spokesperson. (No, they don’t have to be an executive — and they might even already work with you!)
Putting a face to the name: Why a spokesperson is essential
Think about your favorite brands. Is there a face you associate with them?
Remember the Trivago Guy? (You know, the handsome man with salt-and-pepper hair.) He was the visible spokesperson behind that brand.
“There are a lot of other [travel sites] out there — there’s Expedia, there’s Hotels.com,” Darryl says. “But I liked the Trivago Guy, and because I liked the Trivago Guy, I liked the brand because the brand is him… I’m going to go to Trivago and give them a chance for my business.”
That’s why the strongest brands have the same spokespeople on their commercials. (We see you, Flo from Progressive.)
“People connect with people,” Darryl says. “It’s as simple as that.”
“People connect with people. It’s as simple as that.”
Darry Praill, CRO, VanillaSoft
Now, it’s difficult to measure the exact impact having a spokesperson has on your brand, but Darryl throws out some promising numbers.
When he joined the VanillaSoft team in late 2017, the first webinar he did for the company had about eight attendees. These days, they can usually expect 800 to 1,000.
Additionally, the company’s leads have increased by three to four times in volume from 2018 to 2019. Of course, we can’t assume Darryl’s face did all the heavy-lifting here, but there’s a good indication it helped establish the VanillaSoft brand.
Identifying a brand spokesperson (they don’t need to be an actor)
When Darryl joined the VanillaSoft team, he didn’t necessarily intend to become the brand’s face, but here he is.
Now he’s ready to have others join him as a visible company advocate for VanillaSoft. He’s been working to identify a new spokesperson (or people) for VanillaSoft. Here’s what he’s looking for in a brand spokesperson:
1. They need to add value
Your brand’s spokesperson doesn’t need to be an executive, an actor, or a model. You need an employee or company leader who can connect with your audience and add value.
“If I were to hire an unemployed actor, they may be the world’s best actor, but they just might really not connect or identify with what VanillaSoft does because they don’t have the background — they don’t have the experience in what it is we do,” Darryl says.
You likely already have people within your organization who fit the bill. Typically the product and marketing people have the best understanding of your audience and your product, but Darryl says he’s been looking at tapping someone from the tech support team.
“They can always just talk about the product and the challenges and issues, and they could be the go-to face from a support side,” he says. “That humanizes the company and also makes people feel better.
2. They need to be active online
Your “spotlight” employee advocates (brand faces) need to have active online lives.
When Darryl started out, he spent months figuring out the “players” in the industry, following them on LinkedIn and interacting with them — even striking up heated (but respectful) debates.
“Before you know it, you’ve got this silent army of people who are following you, and you’re oblivious to them, but they know who you are,” he says.
From there, he began producing social content, generating conversations, and doing live streams. This helped get his name — and face — out there and build his “street cred” amongst industry pros.
3. They can ease into it
There’s a lot of fear when it comes to public speaking — a fear of the camera, of online comments sections, of saying the wrong thing. Your perfect spokesperson might not be immediately ready to jump up on stage on or in front of a camera, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a good fit.
Darryl suggests starting slow and being patient. You can get someone used to the “public eye” by having them write blog posts or scripts, engaging in social media exchanges, then perhaps doing a brief video event promo.
“We’re going through the exact process to get [the next VanillaSoft spokesperson] ready,” Darryl says. “They’ve been practicing some voiceovers. They’re practicing video. They haven’t gone out there yet, but we’re building up to that. We have a plan in place.”
This is a long-game plan, so you’ve got to be patient and consistent. It doesn’t happen overnight.
4. They need a unique — but authentic — personality mix
You don’t need to find the most charismatic person in the company to become the face of your B2B brand. Really, you just need someone with a unique and authentic personality.
Darryl has a unique personality mix in that he has a lot of knowledge — he can spew stats and facts all day. But if that’s all he did, he wouldn’t get invited to speaking engagements.
At the end of the day, he’s just his authentic self.
“That’s really the secret to growth and visibility and brand-name recognition is just to be authentic — be you,” Darryl says. “People will connect with you no matter what shape, size, or color you are. If you’re just you, everybody can connect to something about you because we’re all human.”
Want to learn more ways you can incorporate video into your sales cycle? Listen to this episode of The B2B Mix Show, and subscribe to The B2B Mix Show on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts for new episodes each Monday.
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