Successful B2B Marketing – Part 2: How to Approach B2B Brand Building
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Most growth-focused businesses don’t like to wait to get results. They want to see an immediate return on their marketing and branding investment. That said, if they have the patience and financial fortitude, they will realize the benefits of the long-term strategy of B2B brand building!
Colin Fleming, SVP of Global Brands, Events and Customer Marketing at Salesforce, says, “At Salesforce, there was a moment of reckoning when we realized that brands actually needed to be built, curated, nurtured, and, every once in a while, kicked in the pants and reset.” Fleming states that brands shouldn’t just plan quarter to quarter but also think about three and five years ahead.
In Part 1 of this 2-part series on successful B2B marketing, we talked about why businesses should focus on both the short and long-term elements of their marketing strategy. After all, building your brand will add to the overall value of your company.
In Part 2 below, we will talk more about this delicate balance and dive into some brand-building tactics that will benefit you in the long run…
B2B Brand Building: The Benefits of Long-Term Tactics and Why They Are Needed
Does this sound like you?
You just started your business, and you compare it to other companies that have been around for five or more years. They have thousands of loyal customers and reviews, which is overwhelming and makes you feel like you have a long (and challenging) road ahead.
Well, we don’t want to sugarcoat this for you. You DO have a long road ahead.
If anyone tells you that you can build a strong brand and community of tens of thousands of loyal customers in one month, they’re either lying or simply don’t understand marketing.
Now, you can speed up brand growth by taking advantage of proven growth tactics that rely on sound data, which we do here at Viral Solutions. It doesn't have to take the same five years for you to build that kind of an audience base. But make no mistake—loyalty and trust WILL take time to build.
You can’t expect long-term results from short-term tactics. Yes, short-term tactics are essential. But you need to balance them with long-term strategy and decisions. Time strengthens and builds trust, which is invaluable to your business.
Let’s explain it this way…
You know how we laugh at brand-new couples who offer advice to seasoned couples on how to enjoy a fruitful long-term relationship? It’s ludicrous, right? Why? Because time hasn’t weathered their relationship. Trust and deep love take time to build. There are no shortcuts.
We aren’t saying that you have to wait a long time to experience any real business growth. We are saying that in addition to your short-term strategy and tactics (that bring continual sales), you must balance them with long-term tactics that come from your marketing strategy. These tactics might not produce expected results right away. But in time, like a waterfall, they will shower you with loyal customers who feel connected to your brand values and mission.
Whew! Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about some long-term tactics that can set up your business for massive future growth.
Aim for Aided Brand Awareness
Salesforce’s Colin Fleming also talks about the connection between upstream brand building and downstream sales. The journey customers go through from awareness to purchase is sometimes complicated. Even if you focus on brand awareness, that may not always be enough to boost sales.
Instead of awareness (people have heard of your brand), focus on aided awareness (people have heard of your brand and mentally connect it to a potential purchase). Yes, awareness in the first stages of the buying journey is important, but awareness must also get prospects mentally connected to the idea of working with you. In addition, brand building continues even when prospects are in the consideration and purchase stages.
Focus on the data
If you're having a hard time connecting brand awareness to sales, consult your marketing data. It never lies. When you can physically see how brand-building tactics translate to sales, long-term B2B brand building takes on a new meaning.
Disclaimer: Collecting the correct data from the right tactics all starts with a solid marketing strategy. The strategy dictates the tactics, not the other way around.
Maintain Focus and Consistency (Instead of Randomness)
We all dislike that picky person who takes 10 minutes to order at the restaurant because they want their meal customized to their liking. Well, when it comes to long-term marketing tactics, we want you also to be this picky.
If you see a piece of content perform well for your competitor, that doesn't mean it will perform well for you. Stay focused and be deliberate when making choices. If you randomly select content topics by what “seems” like a good choice, you will permanently lose because you don't have a strategy or reliable data to inform your decisions.
“Shiny new object” syndrome cripples B2B brands. Don’t fall for them. Focus on what has consistently worked for you and only dedicate a small portion of your marketing budget to trendy or new tactics. Even then, those tactics should hail from a well-thought-out marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals.
“My tactics aren’t working, now what?”
First, make sure you are giving these longer-term tactics the time they need to work. Second, ensure they are connected to your marketing strategy.
Brand effects happen over time and build upon each other. As long as your tactics align with your overall goals and objectives, which should come from your marketing strategy and data, there’s a good chance they will work in time. But if you slapped together a long-term tactic based on what your competitor did that came from their data and strategy, you are at a disadvantage from day one.
So, the moral of the story here is to do the following:
- Stay focused on tactics that align with your goals, objectives, and data (aka your marketing strategy).
- Stay consistent with these tactics and give it enough time to assess success. Chances are, if your strategy was data- and goal-focused, the tactics are strong.
Strive for Conscious Targeting and Positioning (a One-Two Punch)
When a B2B buyer interacts with your brand, do they immediately know what problems you solve?
Are you speaking to your target customers' specific needs?
Do they know what you stand for and whom you serve?
Is your market positioning clear (where you fit in your market)?
Knowing your target market is CRITICAL to successful brand building.
When you know your target market and speak to them directly, it’s evident in your brand messaging, which means it will be apparent to your prospects. The clearer it is to your prospects, the better chance they will stick around and dig into who you are and what you offer.
Combining demographics and psychographics will provide you with exactly what you need to define your target market. We aren’t just talking about knowing your ideal customer’s gender and income, however. We are referring to diving into psychographics, behaviors, passions, buying characteristics, and so much more. If you haven’t done this type of market research yet, read more about it on our blog here and here.
Once you dial in on your target market, determine your position in your market.
- Are you a high-end solution?
- Do you service only small businesses?
- Do you want to be known as a low-cost solution?
When you know your position, you can differentiate yourself from the competition. Every successful brand has a value or trait that makes them unique. We talk more about marketing positioning in this article.
1. Target your market with precision
2. Know your market position and clearly differentiate yourself
…you will solidify your long-term B2B brand-building strategy because you are building on a solid foundation.
Get Emotional and Personable
It’s OK to show a little emotion with B2B brand building. You're not a robot. Even though your customers are businesses, humans still run them.
Remember that you're not just selling a product. You are building a brand. How do you know if you’ve created a brand?
- Customers don’t refer to you by product name but rather your brand name.
- You developed a personality and unique messaging that customers identify with.
- Prospects would pay more because of your brand name rather than pay less for another company’s product.
- Customers’ conversations contain words that reflect your brand values and traits.
B2B Brand Building: What You Need to Know
We just scratched the surface of building B2B brands in this article. It’s a broad subject, but hopefully, we stressed the importance of focusing on long-term strategy as part of your marketing.
This article talked about four B2B brand-building tactics to solidify your business in your market and set you up for future success:
- Focus on aided brand awareness, not just awareness
- Maintain focus and consistency
- Get your targeting and market positioning right
- Get emotional and personable with your brand
Is your marketing strategy working? Are you set up for long-term success? If you aren’t 100% sure (don’t worry, most businesses aren’t), the first step is to take advantage of our FREE 20-Point Marketing Audit. Let us review your website, social media, keywords, analytics, messaging, and more!