Insight | Expansion
Brands stories help expansion into new spaces
B2B is a marketing channel that crosses a lot of categories. Within categories there are brands that are primarily consumer-facing but may have a B2B aspect. There are other brands that are primarily B2B. Focusing on the brands that are primarily B2B, the challenge is primarily about understanding the buying journey and how to better cross-sell portfolios that are getting into different spaces. Some of those brands—if they don’t have a strong halo brand like Amazon or Microsoft—are only known for one thing. That makes it harder to move into new spaces. These brands need to equip their sales people with stories to show that the brand can move into new spaces.
VP, Client Development
Insight | Consistency
Consistency key across B2B, B2C
The brands that cross B2B and B2C are working on the consistency of what they deliver, both as an experience and as a brand. Amazon makes things easy and almost omnipresent, everything goes to your door. AWS, Amazon’s cloud provider, seems to have a similar approach. You can find a plethora of services and set it up quickly. Google is about search and intelligence. It needs to always provide that experience. This consistency of experience is important to individual users. A person’s brain doesn’t keep switching to say this is the business side, this is the consumer side. The question is, what does the umbrella brand mean and deliver?
VP, Client Leadership
Insight | Specialists
Brand experience becomes more one-to-one
Some brands, like Google and Amazon, have always had a direct relationship with their customers. Other brands, like Microsoft and IBM, are evolving in that direction. Those two companies used to sell through channels. As they increasingly sell software as a service, they have a direct relationship with their customer. The brand experience now is becoming very one-to-one. That changes a lot of things. When you sign up for Azure, you’re signing up for the cloud, but you’re connected to the mothership, Microsoft. Similarly, when you sign up for Microsoft 365 licenses, you’re now directly connected to Microsoft.
SVP, Client Leadership
Insight | “Wastage”
Wider reach touches more influencers
One of the things I’ve found interesting, having worked on many consumer brands and now working with B2B brands, is reconciling the case for “wastage,” the brand aircover that positively influences the buying decision when it comes around. In advertising to consumers it’s generally accepted that “wastage” isn’t bad. Talking to as many people as possible as often as possible means you’re reaching your light buyers, and that’s where your money is. What makes advertising work in that instance—along with right message, right time, right place—is the social meaning. How do you attach social meaning if your market is one thousand people spread around the world who never meet? One possibility is that while the decision-makers may be found in the C-suite, all the potential influencers—the journalists, academics, analysts—are much more scattered.
Insight | New Normal
Era of change makes brand more critical
Change is the new normal for B2B brands. Easy to say, harder to accept—and even harder to address. It’s also a new reality for B2B brands that had felt immune to disruption because of their scale or ultra-specialist proposition. Many large B2B brands struggle with facing up to external drivers of change. But everything from the escalating global rivalry for the right talent, to staying relevant in a 24/7-attention economy, are issues caused by a fragmenting world that truly hinders enterprise success. Those challenges have solutions rooted in strengthening the meaning of your brand. Because a brand is there to help all your audiences navigate complexity of choice. What does a strong B2B brand add to your bottom line? It’s more than just pricing premium. It’s also reduced cost-per-sale, deeper investor confidence, more productive employees. and better hires—the true value of a strong B2B brand is multi-dimensional.
Planning Director, Business to Business
Insight | Audience
Audience influences B2B sales approach
Among our clients are a large energy company and a large defense and security company. Despite being big companies, their primary influencer universe is actually very small, and these niches influence how the companies do their selling. Energy companies are researching the one thousand policy influencers in and around Washington, DC. It’s a massively over-researched group and hard to get. But it is vitally important in terms of the value for the client in protecting its reputation. For the energy sector, the digital marketing investment isn’t always as important as developing personal relationships. That will not change for certain B2B companies because of how small their influencer universe is.
Insight | Opportunity
Small business growth raises opportunities
With around 32 million small businesses in the US alone, there is an enormous opportunity for B2B brands to open new channels of communication and revenue. Research has shown that while small business owners are entrepreneurial by nature, they often demand higher levels of assistance when it comes to their consumer journey. They expect the buying and service process to be fluid, omnichannel and personalized. They have been dubbed “commercial consumers”—the small business owners, entrepreneurs and freelancers who shop with a consumer mindset due to their size. Recognizing these trends, some legacy technology companies are pivoting their CX and communication strategies to focus on premium experiences and speaking to small business owners’ growth aspirations.