When we look back at the 2010’s, we’re going to remark that it was a decade largely driven by performance marketing. As an industry, we were obsessed with technology and automation. Endless options online allowed us to instrument and measure everything (though how many organizations actually took the time to draw conclusions from the data). And this over-prioritization to make a conversion has led to a weakening of brands. Now, B2B marketers need to find their way back to brand building to be competitive in an age of disruption.
The benefits of building a B2B brand are well documented. John Quelch, a professor at Harvard Business School provides more reasons why B2B brands should invest more in brand building:
- Most B2B marketers cannot economically address thousands of small businesses using the traditional direct sales force.
- If left unattended, individual managers will each do their own ad hoc marketing.
- B2B marketers are realizing that developing brand awareness among their customers’ customers can capture a larger share of channel margins and build loyalty that can protect them against lower-priced competitors.
Classical thinking tells us that 50% of your marketing budget should go to brand building, and 50% to performance marketing. But in many organizations right now, the mix is about 25% to brand and 75% to performance. Performance marketing and lead generation are fundamental to how B2B brands create and capture demand, but often they are primarily concerned with how marketing activity will be reported on the next quarterly business review and forget about the strength of the brand long-term.
Two years ago, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) released a report called The Long and Short of It, which explores the tension between long and short-term strategies. Speaking to MarketingWeek, Peter Field, the author of the report, said “There is an obsession with short-termism and it is now endemic among marketers. Getting people to talk about brands takes time to build and exploit, it doesn’t work in a hurry. If you underfund creative campaigns and also rush them, then they ultimately don’t deliver.”
B2B marketers should remember that brand is about future sales. The greater the brand awareness and the stronger the brand associations are, the faster the customer acquisition will be and the quicker the velocity as they move down the funnel.
Here Are Three Ways To Build B2B Brands:
1. Prioritize brand awareness campaigns and activities. Think about how some of the great brands you know were built, and imagine those tactics in new contexts. Think about moving some of your marketing budget to more traditional mass media tactics to ensure your brand building activities are achieving a cultural imprint. Microsoft has done an excellent job at using TV to grow awareness of their cloud and AI products. Amazon Web Services, one of their competitors, does a substantial amount of outdoor. These tactics work.
2. Get smart about the way you do social media. LinkedIn can be a great channel for B2B brands both in paid and organic. Take the time to build out a profile and post/comment regularly to grow your followers. By regularly offering commentary about news, trends and complimentary businesses, you will grow your credibility while gaining visibility.
3. Don’t forget about earned media. Industry publications and PR services should always be prioritized, especially when your brand is taking newsworthy actions. You want prospects to continue to build associations that testify to your brand’s particular attributes.
The Blake Project Can Help: Differentiate your brand in The B2B Brand Positioning Workshop
Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education