Marketing Sherpa 2012 B2B Marketing Report identifies the top challenges for B2B marketers.To summarise these challenges include lack of resources, strategic thinking, customer insight, clarity and alignment and having unclear value propositions. It is therefore becoming more essential for these organisations to take a strategic view about how their brand is currently perceived and how it influences potential customers.
Characteristics of B2B companies
A B2B company is likely to have the following characteristics which in turn will determine and influence their marketing mix.
- The company relies on direct sales and usually its sales cycles are longer and contractual in nature
- The customer relationship is likely to be a long term and more personal one
- The customer base is smaller and tightly defined but can also be harder to reach and penetrate
- Products and services are often customised to the specific requirements of its customers
Because the business relies more on a direct sales approach to growing business there is often little emphasis on building a clear and credible brand proposition for the business.
When a B2B organisation gets it right
Harvard Business School (HBS) has identified 6 characteristics that successful B2B brands have in common.
1) The company’s all have a strong brand story and use this as a blueprint to guide growth and its engagement with its customers
2) They recognise opportunities where they actively engage interact and communicate their brand values to potential and existing customers
3) The CEO of a B2B company is the brand ambassador for the business and his involvement in the sales process provides brand endorsement and reassurance.
4) There is a singular centralised approach to managing the brand story rather than individual product or service divisions creating and distributing their own set of marketing messages
5) Successful B2B brands measure customer satisfaction. They regularly conduct internal and external audits and analyse well how marketing messages perform across target customer groups
6) The whole organisation tells the same brand story and is unified when it comes to communicating the company’s brand values. A brand manager cannot stand alone within the organisation. Everyone in the business delivers consistent brand messages which in turn reassures potential customers of their credibility
The top three considerations for the B2B marketer when it comes to creating a brand proposition
1) Auditing customer and employee feedback is a great starting point for a business embarking on creating its proposition.
2) It needs to be lead from the top and cascade throughout the organisation so that there is a consistent representation of the brand
3) The MD or CEO of the business becomes the brand ambassador for the company
We regularly work with B2B companies define clear and achievable value propositions for their business. We do this through facilitated Brand Workshops. The results and outcomes of these sessions has enabled these companies to restructure their current marketing and business strategies and consider more carefully the tactics they need to deploy to support future business growth and success.
Exigent Marketing. Specialising in marketing, branding and creative design solutions for B2B organisations based in Twickenham working West London, Chiswick, Twickenham, & Teddington as well as SME clients in Reading and Berkshire area. www.exigentmarketing.co.uk