Break-Free Your Corporate Brand By Tapping Into The Digital Opportunity
The explosion of digital mediums of communication has changed the way we communicate with each other. B2C has adopted this medium in its branding. However B2B has not done that to its full extent.
Over the last couple of years, B2C companies have been increasingly focusing on digital marketing to build brand, engage with customers, interact with communities. A recent study by e-marketer.com estimates that 130.8 million people in India will use social networks at least monthly this year.
While these statistics are encouraging, we still find B2B companies shunning digital as a medium for branding initiatives. Why the skepticism especially in the B2B sector? The reasons could be many.
Perceived as an irrelevant medium for B2B brands. Companies underestimate its efficacy and reach and assume that potential clients will miss their posts and activity, often assuming that their customers are different from those of a B2C company.
Lack of hard statistics on the ROI. They question whether spends online will generate business revenue.
Over the years, B2B and B2C branding has been addressed differently. Print and TV mediums slowly evolving to websites is the core of B2B communication mediums because that has been the need of the hour. It is perceived that B2B customer’s needs that motivations are different and perhaps therefore is a lack of progression in the direction of new age mediums.
Don’t Let The Constraints Of Traditional Mediums Keep You From Meeting The Needs Of Your Customers Today
Traditional branding has reach, but not depth
Print advertising and TV commercials can generate awareness about the brand, however they cannot achieve the focus and depth that the digital mediums can generate. Different digital channels allow for different tasks that businesses can customize to their needs and stakeholder’s requirements.
Traditional marketing isn’t keeping up with how the customer is evolving in his search for goods and services.
They aren’t dynamic and omnipresent. They aren’t able to address the customer, wherever they are, relevant to their needs and requirements.
Traditional mediums cannot address multiple stakeholders.
B2B businesses typically have more stakeholders invested in their brand than B2C brands. You have your customers, employees, shareholders, governments, NGO’s, partners and vendors… the list is quite long. Traditional mediums do not have the flexibility to adapt to the diversity that brands needs to address today.
It is not easy and seamless for traditional mediums to adapt to changing times.
It takes a lot of time and resource to update traditional means of branding and advertising. Digital could be faster to adapt and evolve and has a long lasting presence.
The Digital Branding Opportunity For B2B
Make digital branding an integral part of the growth plan.
In today’s digitally connected world, we must remember that B2B brands across the world are now relying on social media to gain market insights and increase brand visibility. In addition, many of today’s decision-makers and C-suite leaders turn to social media for research, recruiting and networking. But more importantly, B2B companies need to pay heed to the fact that today’s business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57% of the purchase process is complete. This means, competitors could steal their prospects even before the first meeting.
A robust digital branding plan that includes a cohesive social media strategy can impact your B2B brand in the following ways:
• Generate leads
• Position a company as an expert
• Share thought leadership
• Create awareness
• Generate engagement among stakeholders
Content is the crux of any good digital branding strategy. It’s simple; you want your messages to be read, so it has to be not only be informative, but also interesting. Your content should catch your customers’ attention and make them want to know more about you.
Remember, customers of B2B marketing are also human beings and would like to receive their messages in as engaging a manner as customers of B2C marketing. Who wouldn’t prefer the concise visual communication of a well-designed infographic or video over reams and reams of facts and figures or a tedious research white paper!
Scheduling A Planned Approach To Content, Guided By Your Brand Values And Culture, Can Give B2b An Advantage.
For B2B marketers to achieve their objectives with successful results, my top 4 recommendations are:
1. Digital strategy must be guided by a clear business objective
What is the business objective of digital / social media initiatives?
Establish a clear objective to maximise value and align it to your business objectives e.g. lead generation, customer retention, employee engagement, in order to be able to extract the most out of the digital marketing initiatives.
Allianz enables their entire retail and institutional sales force to use social media as a platform for business communications. This primarily is to build brand awareness as well as humanize the brand. By engaging with customers on the platforms they use in their everyday lives – Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube – the company broadens their prospects, learns and connects with their customers and deepens their relationships, which aids retention.
2. A holistic brand message across digital mediums will lead to a greater chance of achieving the objectives
What topic do you want to be recognised as an expert on?
One of the key challenges is to develop a message that is cohesive and in conjunction with the business objectives. A brand should not just jump on to the brand wagon. Customers are looking for information, knowledge and truth and brands and businesses would do well to provide meaningful, honest content that is relevant to the customer and interesting to read.
GE’s main message is ‘technology’: discovering it, creating it, and celebrating it. Still they always manage to keep their audiences engaged by leveraging their social media sites to narrate this story in unique, smart and targeted ways. No tiresome tech-talk. No business blah.
3. Managing the content and process from the lens of the customer so the brand has a meaningful and relevant presence, not merely “Likes”
Give customers value.
In order to truly engage with customers, it is important that the brand meaningfully engages with them. It is important to understand the medium and its audience before creating content for it.
4. Understanding expectations from each media channel
Multiple channels are a reality of the medium.
Customers have certain expectations from a brand and each medium has a different role to play in the customers’ decision-making process. It is important to understand these so that the brand/company is relevant in each media channel.
Dell Inc. offers its 666,579 employees (as of mid-January 2014) a LinkedIn page, which takes it above and beyond typical company updates to an open platform for discussions through their featured groups.
By focusing on providing engaging content, B2B brands can enrich their marketing strategies and generate more leads. Keeping these few points in mind will also ensure that you drive traffic and attract the right kind of audience you are looking for.
B2B must evolve and embrace this new age medium in an organized and brand-led way. What I have shared are not rules, but guidelines by which to start building your B2B brand to cater to the changing customer needs of today.
Published with permission from Author.
Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net