Is It Time for Your B2B Clients to Return to Brand Marketing?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Is it time for your B2B clients to return to brand marketing? You might answer that question by stating they never gave it up in the first place. But Samuel Scott, writing for The Drum, says they have, and they could be wasting their marketing budgets because B2B operators have lost their ability to show their unique qualities to prospective customers.

Return to Brand Marketing or Invest in More Content?

In a post earlier this year, we highlighted the Content Marketing Institute’s 12th annual study, which reported that 77% of marketers have a content marketing strategy. Organizations shifted money into content marketing during the pandemic, and nearly half (46%) will likely spend between 1% and 9% more on the effort in 2022 when compared to 2021. Favored formats will include video (69%) and owned-​media assets (57%).

What does that mean specifically? In Scott’s opinion, your B2B clients will be putting out “blog posts, online guides and explainer videos”… with the goal of converting… “readers into email subscribers, blog readers and customer leads.” This strategy sounds logical, right?

Prospects need to know about your client’s products and services. Our Voice of the Buyer Study shows 29% of B2B companies have conducted online research on vendors and products before they reach out to a supplier. If they don’t find anything online about your client, the lack of content could translate into a missed sales opportunity.

Mental Availability”

Scott also points out that in a rush to be known as a “thought” leader, B2B marketers are overlooking the “mental availability” factor. To refresh your memory, the “mental availability” phrase, coined by John Dawes, marketing professor at Ehrenberg-​Bass Institute UniSA, speaks to the fact that only 5% of B2B companies are actively purchasing goods and services at a moment in time. Whether it’s upgrading office equipment or buying new accounting software, businesses don’t make these purchases frequently. If they aren’t actively considering a change, B2B prospects likely won’t be paying attention to content marketing about a specific solution.

What does this mean for your clients? “First, lead generation and sales teams should focus on the 5% that are in the market. Second, most other marcom activity should build and refresh memory links to the brand among the other 95% to be remembered by them when they do want to buy in the future,” recommends Scott. To do that, your clients need “focus on features.”

When businesses let prospects know how they are different, they are creating “distinctive brand assets.” Failing to do this means they’ve failed at branding. In this information-​overload economy, it can be difficult to stand out. But when a brand succeeds, by appealing to consumer emotions, people remember. This is true whether they are buying for themselves or for their employer.

B2C organizations have succeeded on this front. Nike has done a great job with their “Just Do It” campaign and tagline. Even if consumers weren’t planning to run a marathon, they sought out the brand when it was time to replace footwear.

Balance the Media Mix

Scott isn’t suggesting that your clients ditch their content marketing efforts. After all, this content drives SEO, and to get noticed by active buyers, a top position on the SERP is critical. However, there should also be a place in the budget for branding campaigns to remind buyers that your client is selling a product or service they will eventually need. 

To understand how your clients stack up against their competitors in terms of digital marketing, check out the Digital Audit, available at AdMall by SalesFuel. Using that information, you can discuss creative strategies and the return to brand marketing.

Photo by Sanaan Mazhar from Pexels