There’s no mistake that good content shared through the right tools can be a powerful combination. For B2B brands especially, marketing communications is an invaluable asset for establishing a strong connection with key audiences. But to maximize your brand’s impression, content must intrigue, inform, and inspire others. It’s the secret to building a dominant B2B brand in an overly crowded marketplace.
A three-part approach
We’d identified three key activities required to create an effective blueprint for becoming a top-choice B2B resource and establishing true brand leadership: Build interest, build confidence, and build relationships.
Interest. More so than being seen, creating interest in your brand means being understood. Your marketing materials must speak with a unified voice that clearly communicates your company’s unique selling proposition (USP). Each piece is a touch point, building one message on another and working toward a common goal: to keep your brand top of mind and show that your company can solve the specific challenges that buyers are facing.
Confidence. There’s a lot riding on a purchase decision, and not just for you. The B2B buyer needs to have confidence in your abilities and believe they’ll make a safe choice by choosing your company. To comfortably do so, they need to feel confident in your ability to get the job done. Share your expertise through white papers, articles, and webinars. And, show them how you’ve solved similar problems for companies just like theirs with customer testimonials.
Relationships. Building relationships is not a new idea, but it’s one that often takes a bit more effort from B2Bs to achieve. Emotion plays a huge role in the B2B buying process; buyers shoulder anxieties and even fear about making the wrong choice, a choice that could very well affect their job and the success of the company. A strong B2B relationship puts decision-makers at ease and makes their burdens lighter.
Now that we’ve established what you need to build a brand, we can choose the right tools (or channels) to get the job done effectively.
Marketing channels that build interest:
- Search engine marketing. It’s well known that buyers use search engines to find what they need, so you have to rank well on the major engines. The trick here is identifying the keywords your prospects use, not necessarily those you thinkare best for the industry.
- Print advertising. Print publications have undergone what I call Media Darwinism. With the shift towards online, only the best have survived. Buyers voted with their checkbooks and supported only those they found valuable, making it easier to identify the best place to spend your ad dollars.
- Hard-copy direct mail. While email campaigns are effective, spam filters, skepticism, and the sheer volume of email pose a challenge to reaching your audience. Bolstering a campaign with a cost-effective mass mailing, like a postcard, can be a strong touch point when combined with other efforts. For example, send a series of postcards with a call to action that directs buyers to a series of online landing pages. It can generate interest and lead prospects to the next stage of the sales cycle.
Marketing channels that build confidence:
- Company website. The single most effective channel for building confidence in your message is your own website. There’s no question that every brand interaction with a prospect–no matter where it begins–drives them to your site. Studies show that company websites are primary influencers to those making a purchasing decision.
- Third-party content marketing. Once you populate your site with valuable branded content, your next step should focus on attracting qualified buyers to that content through as many channels as possible. One good source is online publications. These online channels leverage their subscription lists to promote your content. Typically, they either host material on a unique landing page within their site or drive leads back to yours.
- Social media outreach: Social channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs are most effective because they’re great assets for raising brand awareness among buyers. Using branded content here means you have direct control over how, when, and where buyers digest your message. Social media isn’t just an “interest” channel; it’s a way to build confidence, and eventually, enthusiasm in your brand.
Marketing channels that build relationships:
The best channels to build relationships are those that enable buyers to get to know your people and vice versa.
- Blogs: Because of their personal voice, blogs let buyers become “insiders” and learn directly from those behind your products or services. There’s also an interactive element that can start, and drive, conversations between brands and buyers. Ongoing communication shows interest beyond your brand and can establish a strong foundation for long-term engagement.
- YouTube: Many businesses find it hard to use YouTube for effective, appropriate marketing. But video is a powerful tool for expressing the personalities behind your brand. Use it for video demos of your products hosted by key people like product managers or engineers. Create video “blogs” or share customer testimonials. This is a great channel to show the enthusiasm your customers have for your company and the solutions it provides.
Putting it all together
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy that works with every brand every time. Your brand blueprint will only work as well as the content and channels you put in it. Determine where your customers are and what they want to know as an informed buyer. The key to success is finding the right media mix that best delivers your message and supports your brand. It will no doubt help you to create interest, evoke confidence, and build relationships along the way.
Richard Carango is president of Schubert Communications.