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WTF happened with branding in B2B marketing?

Branding used to be a big deal. When marketing spent on logos, slogans, and sponsorships; good things happened and sales came in the door. It used to be that a company with a strong brand could differentiate way before the buyer was even close to thinking about a purchase. A good brand meant calls got returned, direct mail got read, and your tradeshow booth had overflow traffic. Buyers needed salespeople to stay informed. Sales needed buyers to keep their jobs. It was a win/win.

WTF happened?

Now, no one returns phone calls. Research is done online. It seems sales has less and less influence on the early stages of the sale.

To adapt, B2B internet marketing departments are now all about content. For B2B sales to happen, you need a variety of content, distributed in lots of different ways and mediums, so it can be found and, with luck, deepen the awareness that brings buyers closer.

But how do you measure the performance of content? After all, the design of a website, email, product slick, or white paper can drive conversions but the big picture metric is harder to quantify – how do I know if these things shaped awareness in a positive or negative way? How do we know if we are creating a positive brand experience?

If you are a huge multinational, you can commission research studies that measure the impact of your brand twenty ways to Sunday. But, if you are a small B2B company fighting tooth and nail for every penny in your budget, that kind of analysis and research is far outside the budget. Plus, every minute and penny spent on research distracts from the mission of generating leads ASAP.  Did our work translate into a lead? How many leads actually moved over to sales? How many became customers? Of those who consumed a piece of your content, how many downloads turned into leads? How many leads turned into sales? How much revenue was generated? Did it exceed the investment? With the right analytical tools, you can quantify your ROI.

Want to see other examples of B2B marketing strategies in action?

This is content marketing. Content marketing is supporting your sales process. A hardworking salesperson was supposed to be everywhere and know everyone. Now, that is the job of great content. Great content supports and informs the sales process. A killer white paper or infographic can be viewed, shared for a long time and will attract both identified and anonymous prospects.

When you get your content in front of buyers, then track performance, your demand generation processes suddenly have the potential to pay for themselves many times over.  When you publish a blog post, article or infographic, content marketing ROI is easy to measure. You can track exactly how many people read it, view it, share it – and when you require registration to receive a copy, you know exactly who your prospects are.

Of course, you’ll need tools such as marketing automation and website analytics (free from Google). These tools can give you an incredible level of visibility into the many ways prospects are engaging with your brand.

When it comes to branding, know that a great logo and a beautiful website may or may not attract buyers to your website. If your budget is small, the brand may or may not influence a sale. That’s why traditional branding is only a small piece of the B2B puzzle.

Content isn’t everything tho.

It’s an obvious, but often overlooked fact…you can’t sell to someone unless you know who they are. That’s why everything we do starts at the individual record level in your CRM. It’s about people. It is only possible to build relationships with people you know. As an agency, our sweet-spot is identifying real people (B2B buyers and influencers). We leverage the data behind them, execute great campaigns, relentlessly measure their engagement over time, then iterate and fine-tune campaign performance. We love high-tempo, high-touch account-based marketing campaigns that leverage hyper-customization, killer offers, PR, direct mail, social media, community and direct prospect contact by sales – all managed, monitored and measured with your CRM and marketing automation systems. Account-based marketing depends on the complete alignment between the marketing and sales organizations.

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