Brand Matters: Are You a Brand Behind a Brand?
What exactly is a Brand Behind a Brand (B3)?
You’re probably aware of a few. In fact, you may be one of them.
They come in many forms: manufacturers, service providers, technology providers and distributors. The list is long, varied and spans every business and industry sector.
A B3 is the unsung hero of the supply chain. They’re companies that provide vital goods and services but mostly go under appreciated and under recognized by the very businesses they help make successful. And all too often, they suffer from low brand self-esteem.
This leads to a common B3 problem: They simply don’t recognize the power of their organizations as a brand, and don’t realize the tremendous effects of branding on sales growth and performance. As a result, they place minimal value on marketing, and sales people are regarded as the primary growth drivers in many B2B organizations. The sales person once ruled as the keeper of information, the one with all of the answers, the quote un-quote “expert.” But those days are rapidly coming to an end, as many B3 companies begin to realize that the old school, sales-only method of engaging audiences has lost its dominance.
Walk into our offices on any given day and you’re likely to see a number of projects and programs for big-name brands like Mountain Dew, Benjamin Moore, Crayola, Home Depot, McDonalds, Major League Baseball, and Rent-A-Center. While we don’t furnish marketing services for these national brands, we do provide extensive services for the companies that function in the supply chain of these and other large, national and global brands. Like the supply chain brands themselves, most marketing firms also fail to recognize their needs, importance and significance. At Delia Associates, we not only understand and appreciate the vital role these B2B companies play; we’re passionate about helping them become highly profitable success stories.
Welcome to B3 Business Development 2015
According to a range of studies, 60-90% of a B2B prospect’s fact-finding and decision-making process has already been completed before they even interact with sales. So, while a transaction may end with a sales person, today it begins in a great many other places.
An increasingly larger portion of the B2B decision-making process occurs on the web, through interactions with digital content that positions products and services as ideal solutions to a specific need. Content now comes in a broadening range of formats: text, video, visual, photographic, infographics, audio and more. Social media, industry portals, online media for B2B organizations are the channels that efficiently deliver content to audiences. Ultimately, it’s quality content in various forms that exerts influence on selling opportunities.
B3 Marketing by the Numbers
A recent Roper Public Affairs study indicated that 80% of B2B decision makers prefer to receive information about a company through a series of articles or content items, instead of ads. According to the report, 70% indicated that content marketing helps them feel closer to a company; 60% indicated that if a company’s content is of good quality, it helps them make better buying decisions. Working with a long list of B3s in a variety of market sectors, we have observed this same correlation between the quality of content and the quality of inbound inquiries and leads.
While B3 brands are gradually acknowledging the need to “push” content, they frequently overlook the “human” element. Far too often, content coming from these B2B organizations tends to be heavy-handed, self-serving, and far too “salesy.” Today’s buyers want to explore, learn, select and compare online. They don’t want to be inundated, sold to, or settle for vague blurbs of information. They care less about how great you say you are, and more about how great you can make them.
Emotion: The Secret Ingredient for B3 Brands
When we discuss brand building with B3 CEOs, they often hesitate when the topic of emotion comes up. The prevailing belief is that on the B2B “playing field” emotion has little or no influence on outcomes; rather, they say, it’s strictly about capabilities, services and price, price, price. Many of them think that the whole idea of emotionally connecting only has relevance on the consumer side of the branding fence.
That notion couldn’t be more mistaken. Consider this example: As a consumer, if I buy the wrong type of ketchup, I’ve made a mistake that probably sets me back a few dollars. It’s a problem I can quickly and easily resolve. However, if I’m a B2B buyer and purchase the wrong packaging equipment for my company’s ketchup manufacturing facility, I’ve put hundreds of thousands of dollars at risk, disrupted production and wasted valuable company time and resources. My job may even be in jeopardy. Now, that’s emotion…on steroids!
When the stakes are high, emotions are high too. Recognizing this, savvy B2B brands have an opportunity to differentiate themselves through an authentic presentation of their understanding of both client circumstances and goals, and how they’re best equipped to help achieve them.
This “softer” side, now well established by consumer brands, is filtering down into the supply chain. Issues like the environment, social causes, diversity, and culture are appearing in the websites and presentation decks of B3 brands with increasing frequency. Why? Their customers are looking more closely for brand alignment from their supply chain partners and factoring these issues into the decision-making process. If a consumer-facing brand has taken an advocacy position on an issue, it’s a safe bet to say they will look favorably on supply chain providers who share a similar viewpoint.
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Are you a Brand Behind the Brands? Well, if you are, or even if you just think you might be, let’s talk about how to make the next chapters in your brand’s marketing story emotionally compelling and highly effective.