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Gone are the days when B2B companies can run on great products and recommendations alone. The traditional sales model of face-to-face meetings has also been dramatically disrupted by the increasing digital expectations of B2B buyers, new technologies and a growing number of digital touchpoints. As with B2C marketing the power balance has shifted into the hands of the customer – and they are chomping at the bit for information and access.
So much so, that they are already extremely well informed by the time they meet with a member of the sales force. Add to this increased local and global competition and even the most historic B2B companies need to answer customer demands coming at them from all sides with a solid value proposition translated into an engaging brand platform to win market share.
before a face-to-face sales meeting
or set their selection criteria
over the last two years
Getting started with your brand platform
In light of the empowered B2B buyer, a solid brand platform that can be rolled out across touchpoints is more important than ever. The first point of action is in-depth analysis using insights and knowledge within the company but also looking further afield. B2B companies often have lots of useful data and insights just waiting to be acted upon. An outside eye is often what is needed to help catalyse this into a concrete strategy that informs a strong, effective brand purpose. It is vital to gather qualitative and quantitative data to inform the brand from all angles. Using company, target group and market insights we can really get to grips with the brand’s customers, competition and challenges to find each brand’s true value.
Develop your DNA from the outside in
The classic finding for B2B companies is that they are lagging behind when it comes to communicating what’s in in for the customer. Taking an inside out approach, focused entirely on what “we” can do as a company and what’s great about “our” products misses the mark. It often ends up in rather dreary, price-oriented and indistinct communication. The golden rule for B2B brands is always to take the outside in approach. Which pains are you addressing for the customer? And, what solutions are you providing for them as a long-term partner? This is what will transition your brand towards identifying its true value and hitting the mark every time when it comes to galvanizing internal culture, giving customers what they want, drawing in new customers and steadily building market share.
Create and sustain company culture
Aligning on what your value is as a company will pull the entire organization in one common direction. It can’t be emphasized enough how important a touchpoint your people are. They are the ones communicating with customers and stakeholders on a daily basis – if they don’t know the true value of your brand then who does? Understanding this value and developing a brand platform that truly reflects it creates unity and pride among employees, aligns global stakeholders and increases value in the long term. This is the foundation of all marketing activities and it is important to get right before creating communication.
Don’t be afraid to get emotional
Setting a B2B brand’s creative direction is about finding the right balance between the emotional and the rational – in fact studies show that in the long-term emotional communication far outperforms rational price-oriented communication when it comes to sales. And it’s undeniable – you won’t remember an ad offering 10% off even one week from now, but you will remember an ad communicating emotionally about the true value of a brand. Whether it’s the reliability of Volvo, through Jean Claude Van Damn’s lorry splits stunt, or the Fearless Girl statue, staring down Wall Street’s Charging Bull for State Street Asset Management; emotional ideas pique interest and are proven to raise the value of B2B brands on a level with B2C brands.
It’s a well-known premise in B2C that brands which set their share of voice above their share of market tend to grow – recent studies show the same is now considered true for B2B. With a unified brand platform that strikes the right emotional and rational chords, you’ll be ready to start communicating your brand’s vision to the world, setting a course for long-term growth.
Furthermore, any short-term sales activations stimulating the bottom of the sales funnel will be more effective when supported by brand communication at the top of the sales funnel from an established brand platform. Balancing both brand building and sales activation activities according to the dogma established by your brand platform will ensure your transition to commercial excellence.
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