Selling from one business to another is vastly different than selling to end consumers. As B2B marketers, we’ve long discussed the differences between B2B & B2C Marketing. One thing that doesn’t change, however, is the importance of a strong brand.
Many B2B marketers overlook the importance of branding, as they know that their customers make purchase decisions on more functional things such as cost, quality and availability. While this is certainly true, emotions, relationships and, of course, branding also play a significant role in the B2B buying decision.
In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, 64% of people cite shared values as the main reason they enter into a buy-sell relationship with a brand. In addition, B2B consumers are more than twice as likely to consider a brand that shows personal value over business value because they perceive little difference in the business value between suppliers.
This all comes down to business branding.
How B2B Branding is Different from B2C
B2B markets are very different than B2C ones. The B2B buying cycle is usually longer, the purchasing business’ requirements are more specific, more people are involved in the buying decision, and the final product or service that is chosen will often impact a number of end-users. Put simply, the stakes are higher for B2B buyers.
As such, B2B purchases are typically more heavily considered, with pre-determined functional requirements that have to be met. This means that competitive pricing, on-time delivery and customer support are critically important for B2B businesses to get right. If you are easy to do business with, you make your customer’s job more efficient and reliable. They will then feel confident to do business with you and see your business as a partner who can help them to overcome their problems. How does this relate to your brand? Every interaction that your customer has with your business makes up their holistic picture of your brand.
The most successful B2B companies create a strong brand that incorporates all of these elements so that customers and potential customers have positive associations with the business. If you can create a brand the evokes trust and reliability, you can not only build relationships with existing customers through exceeding their expectations, but you can attract new ones that already have faith in your business.
What your B2B Brand Incorporates
When most people think of branding, they think of their colours, logos and design. These are certainly important foundational elements of any branding strategy, however, it’s important to remember that the following elements are also vital for creating your business brand:
- The website copy and language used
- How your business interacts with the target audience, both in a public sphere and privately
- Your brand voice that is used across all materials and channels
The above elements of your brand should be consistent across all on and offline channels, such as print advertising, social media and your website.
Your brand values will be the basis for the entire culture of your company, so it’s important that this is something that is intentionally considered and developed from the outset. Don’t simply focus on the design elements of your brand, but look deeper into the core of your company. Who are you as a business? What is important to you? Why should customers do business with you?
How to Create Your B2B Brand
84% of B2B marketers say that brand awareness is their top goal. This means that the competition to get your audience’s attention is getting fiercer.
In order to cut through the noise and really speak to your audience, you have to develop an effective brand strategy that separates your business from your competitors (who likely have a very similar offering). The following can help you engage with your audience on a deeper level.
1. Stay Simple
While the products and services that you’re selling may be complex, your brand shouldn’t be. The most successful B2B businesses keep their brand simple, ensuring their message is easy to understand and remember. Crafting a message that is concise, comprehensible and tells your brand story can be difficult. However, spending a bit of time working on getting it right will pay off in the end.
2. Be Clear About What You Do
B2B buyers want to know that your brand can solve their problem. The longer it takes for them to work it out, the more likely you are to lose their attention. When they get to your website or see one of your ads, they should know immediately whether your product or services are relevant to them. This should all be communicated through your brand. For example, do you work with start-ups or bigger companies? Is there a specific industry that you work in? Do you mostly work with people in certain roles? Are you a premium product or low-cost provider?
3. Differentiate Your Brand
In the B2B environment, businesses typically face a lot of competition from other companies that offer very similar products and services. Your audience will be researching to find the best solution for their needs. When they perform a Google search, they’re likely to find all of these other businesses and their similar solutions. How do you make sure that they choose you? Differentiation. Find something that is unique about your business and communicate that to your audience. Give them a reason to choose you over your competitors.
4. Stand Out
In the cluttered B2B space, it is vital that your messaging stands out from your competitors. The products you are selling may not be the most exciting, but your tagline has to be. All too often, B2B businesses stick to explaining exactly what their product does, which comes across a little bland and doesn’t stand out.
A consumer’s brain is wandering 30% of the time, on average . You need to grab their attention and tell them exactly how your product or service will benefit them. This can only be done through compelling, strong messaging.
5. Focus On Customers
Instead of defining your brand by your services or how long you have been in business, think of how your brand adds value to your customers. Your brand should articulate why a customer should choose to work with you. The best way to identify this is to ask the customer directly. When they respond, listen to their answers carefully and apply them in your brand strategy. This is the foundation of customer-centricity and, according to Delloite, customer-centric brands are 60% more profitable than companies not focused on the customer. Being a customer-centric brand means understanding the customer and ensuring that every aspect of your business is geared towards them. This involves continually learning from your customers and applying what you have learned in every interaction that you have with them.
6. Be Data-Driven
Including analytics data is necessary for creating a customer-centric brand. This data can come in many forms. For example, looking at data from search trends and on social platforms can identify audience demographics and interests. You can also look at your website data, such as how far down the page visitors are they scrolling, what they are clicking on, and what content seems to be holding their attention. Out-with your business data, you can look at analyst and market research reports to get well-researched, comprehensive information on your industry and audience.
The key to using data to inform your brand strategy is to test continually. By testing each element of your campaigns, you can work out what resonates with your audience and what is most likely to encourage them to take action. You can then tweak your strategies to ensure they are most effective in engaging your audience.
6. Evoke Emotion
Focusing on developing an emotional connection with your prospects and customers is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your brand succeeds. People who are emotionally invested in your business will not only pay more for your products or services but will go out of their way to seek out your business and recommend it to their peers.
While B2B decisions may be more rational, the truth is that the purchaser will subconsciously first make an emotional decision and then rationalise it. According to Google, purchase intent dips in the B2B purchase funnel as emotion in messaging decreases. When crafting your emotional messaging, bear in mind that the main driver of B2B purchases is risk reduction.
For more information on B2B branding or your wider B2B marketing strategy, get in touch with the specialists at The Lead Agency. We’ve worked on a number of B2B campaigns across industries and can apply our in-depth experience to benefit your business.
Want to proactively plan for future success? Start developing your business’ strategy for next year with our blog on B2B marketing 2020 trends.