How does B2B branding affect your bottom line?
There are many misconceptions about branding, especially in the B2B sector.
In the early days of B2B marketing, CMOs happily borrowed the concept from the consumer world. In both sectors the “brand” can be an important vehicle to build recognition and trust, but there are some crucial differences:
- In B2C, sales typically bring the goods onto the shop shelves, and marketing brings consumers to the same shelf via advertising and other massmedia techniques.
- In B2B, sales typically take the goods all the way to the end buyer, and the first task of marketing is to speed up the process, paving the way and lowering sales costs.
There is more. A brand is, for example, all about trust and it takes far more trust to let a supplier into your business infrastructure or production chain than to try on another brand of sneakers.
The trust of the B2B customer is, first and foremost, based on the competence, resources, ethics and staying power of the company. And, of course, the qualities of the salesperson as a knowledgeable, trustworthy and service-minded advisor. This goes on throughout the initial buying process and, thereafter, throughout the customer relationship. Years, or even decades.
Once a business relationship is established, your actual performance as a supplier is more important than any marketing program. But marketing can still play an important role, paving the way for cross-selling, up-selling and expanding engagement throughout the organization.
Shopping around for a pair of sneakers is less complex, involves less people, requires less engagement and takes considerably less time.
It’s all about money
Your primary reason for investing in brand building and a great sales force is the same: To maximize your revenues and financial results through increased volumes, a premium price and lower sales costs. Ultimately, it’s all about money.
Personally, I never understood why so many B2B-selling companies run separate branding, product and customer loyalty programs. They are all part of the same customer relation, they should all promote the same brand and they should all contribute to the bottom line.
This is one reason why account-based marketing is such a brilliant concept. Marketing and sales focus on the same customers and leads from start to finish. They share the same objectives, strategies and messages. They monitor and optimize the buying journey throughout the “pipeline” and beyond.
Branding must be an integral part of all that. Over and over again, because customer relations often evolve into new business opportunities. And because you don’t build a genuine brand by any glossy, temporary “corporate campaigns”.
Senior Writer & Strategist at Freya News