Guest post by Irma Hunkeler.
Brand-building in the business-to-business (B2B) sphere is a little different from the consumer world. Isn’t it all about rational decision making, not emotions? Not necessarily. Let’s take a look at how B2B firms can build their brands in this competitive space.
Dive into LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a fertile ground for B2B brand-building and lead generation. On an individual level, marketing and PR pros, sales reps, and executives should contribute thought-leadership posts that showcase their industry expertise, and contribute to relevant LinkedIn’s groups.
Companies can start their own groups and forge valuable connections. Please, don’t make it “our company group” though; focus the group on an intriguing topic within your industry, like inbound marketing or enterprise request management.
Take a look at this post for more on harnessing social media to your advantage.
In B2C branding, making emotional connections with customers is one of the central tenets of marketing. For some reason, this power of narrative isn’t always transferred over to the B2B world. Granted, your customers will be more interested in how your product will save them money, or help them do a job quicker, than whether they’ll enjoy it or take pleasure in it. Buyers have to be a bit more rational. But you can still employ storytelling techniques in your communications to forge strong relationships.
Case studies, for example, are a great way to showcase your products and tell a story at the same time. The structure of the case study is in itself a narrative one:
- A problem.
- A solution to the problem.
- Why it was a success.
Understand the B2B process
Remember that the B2B decision-making process is more layered than the consumer one. If someone wants to buy a chocolate bar, that’s usually just one person who wants to buy a chocolate bar. And their main motivation for doing it is a pleasurable one: it tastes good.
Decision-making for B2B products typically involves a team of buyers, from the functional groups affected to finance, IT, procurement, and senior management. The decision-making process tends to be longer too – no firm is going to buy a new fleet of company cars on impulse, for example. They need to weigh up options and work out what’s best for them. Understanding your customers’ decision-making processes more clearly will help you market to them more effectively.
Think about what you’re saying
B2B products can often be more complex than consumer ones. A bar of chocolate is different to, say, a rotor. A cushion isn’t like a mig gun. B2B products are often highly technical and complex – but still need to be explained as simply as possible, using the words your buyers use.
Granted, some level of technical language may be necessary. But all too often in the B2B world, products get shrouded in obscure, internal language and acronyms. Focus on writing in clear, concise language that explains your products in everyday terms. And tells a story too.
Irma Hunkeler works for BlueGlass.co.uk, a digital marketing agency. Her work allows her to get in touch and collaborate with experts across different industries including travel, retail, recruitment, technology and charitable institutions.