How to Build Your B2B Brand
Business-to-Consumer (B2C) marketers can build their brands with catchy slogans or buzzworthy campaigns. The branding process is more complex in the Business-to-Business (B2B) world—but every bit as important.
According to a study by U.K. public relations firm Good Relations, brand has more influence on B2B purchasing decisions than any other factor. Of 175 C-suite executives surveyed, 73% said they were more likely to purchase a product based on the perception of a strong brand.
A good B2B brand strategy must take into account these key differences between B2C and B2B:
- B2B products tend to require a larger investment and a longer sales process
- B2B products and services can have a higher learning curve
- The B2B evaluation process can be extensive
- The B2B buying decision often involves multiple individuals
Here’s how you can create and maintain a strong B2B brand:
Be a thought leader. Use your website to establish your expertise in the industry and show potential customers that they can trust your knowledge and experience. Stay on top of industry news and trends and post new content regularly that touts your industry expertise.
Engage your audience (and generate leads) with downloadable resources. According to the 2015 B2B Lead Generation Trends Report, whitepapers and ebook downloads are the top producers of B2B leads. Not only do downloads provide value for your customers, they can also help you build your email list if you require visitors to provide an email address in order to download a resource.
Focus on the right strengths. While many companies think their environmental efforts, global reach, and social responsibility are key selling points, a study by McKinsey & Company found that executives care more about honest communication with customers, effective supply chain management, and level of specialized expertise.
Develop valuable content. If you’re a B2B company, chances are your products are complex, and the industry you serve has a specific set of issues, concerns, and requirements. If you give customers and prospects relevant information in the form of guides, infographics, and videos which they can use to make important decisions and solve key problems, they will associate your brand with value.
Establish a good reputation. According to the McKinsey study, key B2B decision-makers consider a vendor’s reputation more important than price. To a potential customer, a strong reputation translates to increased credibility and reduced risk. Search your business to make sure you catch any negative comments, and set up Google Alerts to receive an email notification when there are new results for your search. Monitor any mentions of your company on social media and review sites, and quickly address any problems or complaints.
Use case studies. For the complex B2B decision-making process, a case study that clearly illustrates the uses and benefits of your product or service can be an invaluable sales tool. Not only is a case study a way to bring storytelling into what might otherwise be a dry and clinical process, it’s also easy to digest, and easily circulated to everyone who will be a part of the process.
Make connections on LinkedIn. According to a report by Social Media Examiner, 41% of B2B marketers say LinkedIn is their most important social channel. Make the most of LinkedIn’s brand-building potential by joining relevant industry groups and showcasing your expertise by answering questions and actively participating. Use your company profile to create a compelling pitch to your target audience, post regular updates, and encourage visits to your website for more information.
Don’t discount emotion. A B2B purchase involves logic and objective evaluation, but that doesn’t mean emotion isn’t a factor. According to a report by CEB Marketing and Google, an emotional connection with B2B customers is twice as effective as business value in making the sale. But unlike consumer brands, which rely on emotions such as nostalgia and desire for status, B2B brands should focus on inspiring emotions such as confidence and trust.