5 steps to creating long-term impact through your B2B brand

All articles | Brand
Published Jul 22, 2019 | Written by Keith Errington

Creating an impactful, successful, revenue-generating brand is equally important for B2B as it is for B2C.

Whilst we are all very much aware of the big B2C brands out there, there are some great examples of strong B2B brands too – think of Accenture, IBM, Microsoft or JCB.

Having a strong brand is a powerful asset that works for you in the background attracting prospects, establishing authority and trust and making sales easier.

So how do you build a brand that’s going to do all those things for you?

Here are five crucial steps on the journey to creating impact with your brand.

1. Know what you are about

Crucial to the process is to know what your brand stands for. What is its character and its personality?

In the B2B world, you might think branding is not so important – a brand just needs to be functional, recognisable. But that’s just not good enough in today’s marketing landscape. The problem today is that the Internet has levelled the playing field – your customers and competitors have the potential to know everything about all the offerings on the market.

Over time, businesses will match prices, features, and so on, evening out the differences between vendors. Eventually, the point of difference often becomes quality, unique features, service, and support.

But even these can be replicated and matched given enough time and investment by competitors.

And even if all other factors are not equal, customers will still place a high value on reputation and trust – two essential elements of a brand. And beyond that, they will look to see if they agree with the brand’s approach, its philosophy, its care for the environment, the planet and charitable causes.

Your brand then, not only has to establish trust and a reputation, but it also needs to communicate what you as a company, are about. Your approach to the business and your customers as well as what you stand for. The causes you support, your ethical stance and your green credentials.

You have to live and breathe these elements in the day to day workings of the company. You can’t just slap on a design, write a few words and be convincing – you have to practice what you preach and live that life. 

This is intrinsically tied to the culture and leadership of a business – the business has to buy into these brand values – from the top down. 

2. Get the basics right

One of the things I have seen time and time again over my years in marketing consultancy is companies that obsess over ‘advanced’ stuff like tweaks to logos, or complex technical systems, or the exact layout of a leaflet, whilst neglecting the very basic stuff like having a working product, providing satisfactory customer service or putting their phone number on every page of the web site.

The complex stuff is important – don’t get me wrong, but before you do anything else, ensure you are doing the basics well. I have seen so many companies, large and small, fail at this, so I cannot stress this enough.

  • Make sure your product or service is the best it can be. If you know it has shortcomings – move heaven and earth to fix them.
  • Provide the best possible support and after-sales service – be just as responsive to support queries as you are to sales queries. (That means very responsive – in case you hadn’t guessed).
  • Make it as easy as you possibly can for people to contact you. Don’t hide behind convoluted phone systems. Put your email address and phone number everywhere you can and on every page of your website (especially the home page). Remember, you want people to contact you.
  • Remember: Keep It Simple – messages, layouts, propositions, systems, forms and interactions, should all be simple. It should be easy for prospects and customers to contact you and easy for them to understand what to do. They simply don’t have the time for anything else.

When it comes to your website (and if you are a SaaS supplier, then your software too) makes sure that it is 100% usable. Ensure whoever is designing and developing your site understands usability, accessibility and the requirements of mobile web design. Again – these are the basics to get right first – everything else must follow on from that – being able to use your website easily is the absolute priority for a website development project.

3. Create great content

If you read any of our blogs or seen our website, you’ll know this is a subject dear to our heart, so feel free to skip this bit if your already creating loads of quality content. 

Creating content is not only the primary means of building your brand – it is also the most important. Of course, it’s important from the marketing point of view because it gets you seen in the search engine listings attracting prospects and leading them to your site. 

But for brand building, your content helps establish your authority, your character and your tone of voice. It demonstrates your knowledge, your experience, and your helpful attitude. Publishing appropriate, useful content that is genuinely helpful to your target audience will not only attract prospects to convert to sales it will establish your brand. Remember, a strong brand will also attract business, make solid conversions from sceptical prospects and raise awareness. It will also help with your SEO – the stronger your brand and its reputation – the better the search engine listing.

And we’re not just talking blog posts, but videos, webinars, eBooks, white papers, presentations, podcasts and more.

4. Become active on social media

The other main area to concentrate on when building your brand is social media.

Which platforms and channels prove most effective for you, will be dependent on the nature of your business and your buyer persona, but prior research will help you to identify that. 

Make sure your company page is all it can be and ensure all your top managers/experts/spokespeople are connected to the page. Post updates, stories and links regularly. Link to your content on your website for sure, but also try publishing content directly to the platform.

For example, you can publish blogs directly on LinkedIn’s own blogging platform, or video content straight to Facebook's or Instagram's live stories functions.

LinkedIn is a great B2B marketing tool - as are other social platforms - but don’t forget you can advertise on these platforms too.

5. Reach out to your audience

Although one of the oldest methods of digital marketing, and you might it think it old hat, sending out an email newsletter is still one of the best ways to engage with your customers and prospects as well as being highly cost-effective. And an email newsletter is a great medium to help build your brand – giving you a further way to publish your content and express what your business is all about. 

Being a regular publication, an email newsletter can establish themes, explore topics, run regular features and other elements of brand building content.

Another way to reach out to audiences old and new is through events – whether they be seminars, conferences, demo days, product launches or participation in exhibitions, events are another solid way to establish a presence and build the brand. Events are a fantastic way to create genuinely engaging content for social media too – be sure to make the most of any event’s content-generating potential. 

Slow but sure

Building a strong, powerful, successful and productive brand takes time – it doesn’t happen overnight. But get the fundamentals right, and step by step, you will get there. 

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Published by Keith Errington July 22, 2019
Keith Errington