To start, I think we need to set expectations around what I am calling brand marketing. Brand marketing, for our purposes, is advertising or marketing that focuses on the establishment of a set of outcomes and positioning in the mind of the consumer. Here is another definition if you don’t like mine, but mine is real close.
When you are marketing your brand, you are marketing a set of values or expectations in the customer’s mind. To contrast this, look at direct response marketing. This is a type of marketing that is focused on creating a direct response to the marketing effort, like calling a number or filling out a form. Brand marketing might not have any direct CTA, which is fine, because the real purpose is to come to a mental conclusion. Keep this statement in mind, because I’ll come back to it.
Most B2B tech marketing is more of the direct response variety, and that is fantastic. We love leads, and everyone agrees that marketing should have some direct result from the efforts.
It also fits with the general concept of what the digital domain is greatly used for. Most people go to the web for something. It’s not as immersive of an environment, such as walking through the mall or watching TV. Most people still go online to do something, so it lends itself to the idea of positioning direct response-type advertising in front of a potential customer who is looking for something specific. A match made in heaven, so to speak.
The mainstay of most B2B tech marketing approaches is a direct response website, with landing pages and CTAs – pages with ebooks, and email campaigns that focus on events or webinars. These are all great because it fits the mode of today’s internet marketing. This might change, and it might change subtly with future generations. This is why we need to think about brand marketing in B2B in the digital space.
How does brand marketing fit into B2B? Well, let’s come back to my statement above, “because the real purpose is to come to a mental conclusion.”
Brand marketing is all about the establishment of a conclusion in the mind of a consumer.
Once we understand this, we can think about the next question – what do I want to establish in the mind of the consumer or my client?
Here are some conclusions that you might want to consider.
One of the best uses of brand marketing is to create a sense of size and impact. If you keep popping up with a consistent message in a consumer’s world, you start to take a better chunk of awareness, and certain conclusions start to be made. They will begin to think you must be a bigger company because you are brand marketing. This is typically done by only the biggest companies, and you can increase your perceived size with good brand marketing.
Similar to the one above, good branding can show that you are good at what you do because of the depth of good brand marketing you do. Of note, you must have good visual branding done to make this work. Your little cousin can’t do your logo for this one. You need to have a professional brand and messaging done before you can really make this work, but once it does, it makes all the difference.
Lastly, another reason to do it is to reinforce the efforts you are doing elsewhere. I do believe if you have billboards all over town, or a great print ad, when you are pitching someone and they recognize you from those ads, it matters. Even in the B2B context. It can help support your value proposition. This might be the reason I support it in context with our current clients.
Now notice above what I did not say.
I did not say that brand marketing with drive new business.
I did not say that brand marketing will have a high ROI.
The problem with most companies that do brand marketing is they have unreal expectations on what brand marketing will do for them. It’s an engine for coming to a conclusion, not for building business in B2B.
Brand marketing is not a primary activity for B2B tech marketing. It should be done only when the proper channels of new business development are created and are running well.
So, with all of this information in mind, I would say yes, you should, when the time is right. It can be a leverage for your business for the right audiences. You need to follow the right advice when it comes to brand marketing, like having a clear audience, being focused in your positioning, and value proposition.
All of these things will help your message be more effective, and it will help your overall campaign for new business.