Most demand generation and account-based marketers tend not to think much about branding, which is unfortunate given that a consistent brand can increase revenue by up to 23 percent (Forbes). Indeed, your brand can have a massive impact on the success of all aspects of your go-to-market. And as I state in the The Clear & Complete Guide to Account-Based Experience (ABX), without good brand support, even the greatest ABX programs will have you struggling to hit your goals.
That’s why the best account-based marketers are thinking about brand generation, not just demand generation. And as we’ll see, for B2B companies, that means creating your brand on a foundation of trust.
B2B buyers are still people. People are emotional. And emotions impact decision-making.
The fact that B2B buyers have emotions means that no matter how disciplined a buying process is, they will use emotionally driven heuristics to simplify these complex decisions — often choosing the vendor that seems “safest.” In fact, whether the buyer realizes it or not, the decision is often made long before the buying process is completed. And when this happens, even subconsciously, much of the buying process ends up being an effort to justify the initial emotional decision.
B2B marketers can and should tap into this by appealing to the emotional side of their prospects, as well as their rational side. This is where branding comes in, because brands inherently operate on an emotional level.
One way to achieve trust is by being a dominant leader in your category (or being seen as such). Having a strong company purpose and values helps as well, as long as you always act authentically and in a consistent manner.
Becoming a trusted advisor requires abiding by these basic principles in all content marketing materials:
1. Quality over quantity. Thought leadership isn’t about cranking out more blog posts or pushing yet another generic webinar, hoping to generate more leads. It’s about creating genuinely useful, valuable content that customers and prospects value — knowing the opportunities will come.
2. True expert advice. Buyers need help to see possibilities and issues they wouldn’t think about on their own. (This is why the Challenger Sale approach is so effective.)
3. Long-term view. If an SDR calls you in the middle of the day, you feel interrupted. If a good friend calls, you pay attention to what they have to say. The difference is trust, built over time. This requires a long-term view of your marketing investments, and it requires matching your message — and medium — to where the buyer is in their journey.
4. Make it easy for buyers. Potential customers want to use your website for research on their own terms. If you don’t have the information they need, or if you make it too hard to access, they’ll simply do their research elsewhere — and you’ll miss out on valuable clues about when they move into a new stage of the buying journey.
Conversations about your products and your industry are happening, online and offline, both visibly and beyond your view. Your customers, prospects, partners, and other influencers are sharing their opinions and recommendations, and there are ways to nurture these conversations to generate social proof for your company. To do this, you should:
• Put emotion into your brand. B2B doesn’t have to be boring, and buyers are people first. When an experience evokes an emotion, people will want to share it with others. The Marketing Nation tapped into this by giving people a feeling of belonging and support.
• Engage online. Create an online community and actively engage with customers (and possibly prospects, partners, etc.). But don’t stop there — engage anywhere people are talking about your industry or products. Be a part of the conversation.
• Go beyond customers. Include partners and influencers. Ensure they participate in the online community, in events, and on social — which helps them feel more connected and more likely to talk about their favorite brands, providing a positive halo effect for the brand.
There’s a lot more to the process of building and strengthening your brand’s social proof (mobilizing advocates, nurturing super-users, managing ratings, etc.), as well as the process of tapping into the emotions of buyers (especially the power of negative emotions). For more on the subject, dig into the section “Branding Matters,” starting on page 41 of The Clear & Complete Guide to Account-Based Experience (ABX).
Check out DBTV, featuring a variety of shows, ranging from thought leadership programming to profiles in customer success. This is your one-stop on-demand streaming hub for all the latest in B2B Go-To-Market.