By Ed Owen - 20th April 2020
Branding shouldn’t be a dirty word for B2B marketers. But by looking at evidence from the relative spend on brand by B2B marketers and B2C marketers, it’s the piece of the marketing puzzle that’s frequently forgotten, to the detriment of B2B marketing effectiveness.
Sell more, increase market share, find new products – these are all proven methods for building or growing a business.
But what seems to be forgotten is that all these things can be accelerated by one thing: branding. But don’t just take our word for it – the research says so.
Les Binet and Peter Field are the pre-eminent researchers into marketing effectiveness. They produced research at the tail end of 2019 showing that for B2B marketers, branding works harder and achieves more than it does in B2C.
Global Director of LinkedIn’s B2B Institute Jann Schwarz wrote in the introduction to the research that there was plenty of material on activation, but not much, “on the value of brand building in business-to-business relationships”.
But why – has branding been forgotten in B2B?
“The rational approach does not work well for long-term brand building,” Binet and Field say. However, before they come to market, “People are much less interested in product information…so they either screen product messages out or quickly forget them.”
For those already in-market, rational arguments are twice as effective as emotional arguments (20% vs 10%). For those not in market, emotional arguments have around 2.5x the power of rational messages
Basically, if you want to acquire customers, emotional arguments work. If you want to sell, emotional arguments work.
But that’s not all – Binet and Field found that branding works for B2B marketing more than it does in B2C.
Marketers will probably be familiar with the recommended split between short term activation and long term branding as 60% brand work against 40% activation. B2B marketing falls far behind, with just 46% spent on brand against 54% spend on activation.
This represents an opportunity for businesses to invest in brand.
B2B marketing is not about selling inexpensive items like shoes or bathroom cleaner, but expensive products and services that business live and die by.
Brands that invest in their share of voice reap benefits in market share. This is a simple rule and works for B2B marketing as it does for B2C marketing. Bigger share of voice means more effective marketing.
For B2B marketing, Binet and Field suggest the split of branding to be 50/50 – still less than for B2C marketing where impulse buys are common. However, the split in B2B marketing remains far from this level, so there remains a significant opportunity for B2B marketers to invest in brand and reap these rewards.
For B2B buyers a simple shortcut to recognise and understand your brand remains tremendously important.
When customers think of you, your business has a significant advantage. This is achieved through investing in brand. Spending on brand increases the propensity to buy at every stage.
This is a powerful argument for intelligent brand and content marketing programmes.