With the global economy shifting, the marketplace and buyer both continue to change. As a result, many companies across all sectors are prioritizing and evaluating how to best allocate their resources. Unfortunately, one of the first areas to typically be cut, historically speaking, is marketing and brand spend. Usually, these areas are perceived as discretionary and nonessential. However, this approach can be very shortsighted, producing long term negative effects.
In this article, we'll explore why branding and social content are critical for your B2B brand in a down economy, and how you can use them to stay competitive.
Why cutting marketing budget first is short-sighted
In today’s day in age, it’s a safe assumption that consumers no longer simply buy from companies - they buy from brands. That’s because in the perception of the consumer, companies sell a product or service, while brands offer an experience.
When companies eliminate their branding and value proposition, this negates the experience of the client and focuses on a transaction. Given that a transaction is a commodity with no sense of loyalty where brand is often not considered, there’s no core thread or reason for customers to stay with the company. Without this connection, cutting costs becomes simple, and companies lose.
Over the years, B2B companies historically place less emphasis on brand and more on product or service differentiation. According to a 2019 survey by the Association of National Advertisers, B2C companies tend to allocate a larger percentage of their marketing budget to branding compared to B2B companies. The survey found that B2C companies allocated an average of 18.1% of their marketing budget to branding, while B2B companies allocated an average of 11.1%. Even then, the branding elements of the vast majority of B2B companies pale in comparison to the creative, engaging and customer-centric efforts demonstrated by their B2C counterparts.
For B2B businesses, branding and social media should be more intentional than simply creating content for the sake of it. In fact, branding and social media might just be the best way to position an organization in front of their ideal customers, and build affinity during a time where many slash additional expenditures.
And, quite frankly, continuing to retain and find new customers during a down economy is critical.
How it comes into play in the marketplace
B2B companies have an immense opportunity to leverage branding and social media today. For instance, leading marketing and sales software company HubSpot increased its social media activity to connect with its audience and provide valuable resources to help businesses navigate the pandemic. Through its social media channels, HubSpot shared industry insights, best practices and practical tips to help businesses adapt to the new reality. By doing so, HubSpot was able to establish itself as a trusted resource for businesses and build a stronger relationship with its audience.
B2B businesses can learn from HubSpot's example and use social media to build a stronger relationshp with their customers, prospects and partners by sharing valuable content, engaging with their audience and participating in industry conversations. By establishing a unique brand voice and personality and consistently sharing valuable content, B2B businesses can position themselves as the go-to choice in their industry.
5 reasons you should keep investing in your marketing and brand
In a down economy, B2B businesses that fail to invest in branding and social content risk falling behind the competition. To avoid falling into this trap, here are several compelling reasons to begin investing in B2B content and branding if you haven’t already:
1. Building trust and credibility
One thing we can all agree to be true in any organization is that building trust and credibility is critical to success. And by conveying a clear brand promise through social media content, B2B businesses can establish themselves as reliable partners who deliver on their promises. This helps build trust with their target audience, as they know they can count on the business to provide solutions to their challenges.
Social media can help build brand recognition, as it increases visibility and exposes the brand to a wider audience. By creating their own intellectual property on social, B2B businesses can position themselves as thought leaders and experts in their industry. This not only helps build credibility with their audience but also establishes them as a go-to provider for their products or services.
Through consistent messaging, tone and visual elements across all social channels, B2B businesses can create a recognizable brand that differentiates them from the competition and increases their overall brand awareness and recognition. Overall, a strong brand with a clear brand promise, strong recognition, and thought leadership through intellectual property is essential for building trust and credibility with B2B customers.
2. Generating leads and sales
Generating leads and sales can be a challenge in any business. However, social content can be a powerful tool for driving business opportunities and staying top of mind with your target audience.
Social media allows companies to connect with their audience in a way that feels genuine and personal. By using social media to build relationships with prospects and customers, businesses can foster trust and loyalty, which can lead to increased sales over time.
By building a strong brand through social media, B2B businesses can establish themselves as industry leaders and build a reputation for authenticity and quality. By consistently sharing valuable content, engaging with followers and showcasing their expertise, businesses can position themselves as trusted advisors rather than selling abruptly.
Rather than relying on traditional sales pitches, businesses can use social media to provide behind-the-scenes looks at their operations, highlight their company culture and showcase the people behind their brand. By doing so, businesses can build a genuine connection with their audience and differentiate themselves from the competition.
Additionally, creating relevant content such as polls, events and photos featuring real customer stories allows marketing and sales to better qualify leads and diffuse barriers to allow effective inbound marketing to take place.
3. Building relationships
By using social content to engage with your audience and build a sense of community, B2B businesses can foster lasting relationships that can lead to future business opportunities.
Another way to build relationships through social content is to engage with your audience in a two-way dialogue. Unlike traditional advertising or blog posts, social media provides a unique opportunity for businesses to have real conversations with their audience, foster a sense of community, and build authentic relationships. By responding to comments and messages, sharing user-generated content and participating in industry conversations, businesses can establish a rapport with their audience and deepen their connection.
Beyond engaging with customers, social content can also be an effective tool for building relationships with referral partners. By creating content that’s relevant to your industry and sharing it with your partners, you can position your brand as a thought leader and deepen your relationships with your partners. This can lead to future business opportunities and increased referral traffic.
4. Increasing visibility
Increased visibility can be a key factor in staying competitive. By maintaining a strong presence on social media and building a recognizable brand, B2B businesses can increase their visibility and reach a wider audience. This can help them attract new customers, partners and employees, as well as increase their overall brand awareness and recognition.
One of the reasons why social media is so effective at increasing visibility is because those who follow you are more likely to be engaged with your brand and interested in what you have to say. By building a community of followers who are genuinely interested in your brand and what you have to offer, you can increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and attract more qualified leads.
Another reason why social media is so effective at increasing visibility is that it allows you to qualify who is on your page. Unlike traditional advertising, where you may be reaching a wide audience that may or may not be interested in your product or service, social media allows you to target specific groups of people based on their interests, demographics and behaviors. This means that the people who are following you on social media are more likely to be the right customers and prospects for your business.
5. Competitive advantage
In today's digital age, social media and branding are essential for staying competitive in the B2B space. B2B businesses that invest in their brand and social media presence are more likely to stand out from the competition, differentiate themselves in the marketplace and attract new business opportunities. By establishing a unique brand voice and personality and consistently sharing valuable content, B2B businesses can position themselves as the go-to choice in their industry.
However, very few companies are spending the time and resources needed to establish a strong social media and branding presence. For those that aren't doing it well, there’s a significant gap creating an opportunity for organizations that are willing to tell stories and create good content to stand out from the competition.
By investing in your brand and social media presence, B2B businesses can differentiate themselves in the marketplace and attract new business opportunities.
By establishing a unique brand voice and personality, you can create a connection with your target audience and position yourself as the go-to choice in your industry. Consistently sharing valuable content through social media allows you to build credibility and establish yourself as an industry leader, further setting you apart from the competition.
In a down economy, it's even more critical to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate the unique value your business brings to the table. By investing in your brand and social media presence, you can do just that, establishing yourself as a leader in your industry and attracting new business opportunities even in challenging times.
Branding and social content are critical for B2B businesses that want to stay competitive and attract new business opportunities. By building trust and credibility, generating leads and sales, building relationships, increasing visibility and gaining a competitive advantage, B2B businesses can establish themselves as industry leaders and build a strong reputation in their field.
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