Building a better brand image for B2B marketers

B2B marketers can benefit from thinking like their B2C colleagues. Priorities and strategies differ between marketing to consumers and marketing to businesses, but there are lessons B2B marketers can learn from B2C marketing. The first and most important tactic B2B marketers can learn from B2C campaigns is to build a brand image. B2B brands may have a difficult time with this, as products for the business space may be perceived to have less personality than those targeted to the consumer. However, there are many ways to begin to build a great brand image that will generate quality leads. 

Marketers should also keep in mind that some of their work on building brand image will show results in other marketing channels. For example, social media engagement may rise, backlinks may proliferate and company mentions may multiply, according to Search Engine Land. All of these are beneficial to any online marketing effort, and will advance brand awareness even more.

The trusted brand
B2B sales depend on maximizing trust and minimizing risk. Procurement officers may be more willing to try a new product or service for themselves than to try it on behalf of their company. In the latter case, the risk of failure carries much greater consequences than simply deciding not to buy it again; there could be financial or other consequences that businesses want to avoid. In the business world, buyers are most drawn to companies they see as a safe bet, and are not often open to risk. As such, B2B brands need to focus their marketing efforts on building a trustworthy brand. Such an image has several components:

1.) Brand awareness
The first of these is simply brand awareness – customers can't trust what they don't know. Online marketing initiatives like search engine optimization and social media advertising can be helpful here. At the awareness stage, the only goal is to let potential leads know about the brand and what it can offer them. When customers require a service that a company provides, they are more likely to remember and pursue it if they have seen its brand often in places they tend to trust. High search rankings and recommendations from friends on social media both qualify.

Targeted advertising is also a component of reaching the right prospective customers. The more relevant advertisements are, the more memorable they will be. Businesses should make a concerted effort to advertise on social networks their target demographic uses the most. Finely targeting which keywords will trigger advertising is also important; efforts to build a brand among businesses that are not even interested in a company's product are wasted.

2.) Positive buzz
Customers trust the opinions of their friends and associates more than they trust any form of marketing. This is another tactic B2B marketers can borrow from those who advertise to consumers. Professionals should tap into this trust by generating positive buzz in business circles about their companies and products. Any awards or accolades a business receives should be widely publicized through every available channel. It's also a great idea to leverage positive customer experiences – a good testimonial can be worth quite a lot in credibility. Word-of-mouth marketing need not be artificial in tone or intent. The purpose is simply to let people know about the brand and impress them with its achievements or service. Those who are interested by these positives will naturally be moved to share what they know with their social circle. Whether this occurs in real time or on social media, it is one of the best ways to build a trustworthy brand image.

3.) Content marketing strategies
Content marketing is vital to most business' online marketing strategies. It can help influence prospects and establish thought leadership. Another task for which content marketing is well-suited is building a brand image. Creative consistency throughout all types of content a business creates will associate a particular look and feel with the company in the minds of prospects. This is positive, as that aesthetic will convey a brand's rich, engaging brand personality to its customers.

Opportunities to infuse content with personality abound. Even industry-focused white papers involve design elements, for example, which should always conform to the house style. The voices of blog writers can be distinctive in ways that mirror what makes a brand unique. Using video marketing can be simple, particularly if a business chooses to make short-form videos with Instagram or Vine, and the visual impact of a coherent video campaign is valuable in creating brand image.

Marketers should refine their content to display the human side of the brand, when appropriate. While it would be out of place in an industry report, for example, this strategy is right at home on social media and blogs. Allowing employees who are not part of the marketing department itself to post or share short pieces of content about their work lives or hobbies can be very effective. B2B marketers know that they are targeting business professionals, but people nonetheless. It's natural for a sense of connection to form when customers learn more about the humanity of a brand, which can pay off in creating 

Sheila Kloefkorn (1029 Posts)

With more than 20 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing,, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.