New branding opportunities in the digital age
How has B2B branding changed in the digital age? Well, what you used to be able to convey with a logo, some colors and a font now needs to compel across multiple platforms and mediums, over which you have varying degrees of control. From review websites to comments on social media, your brand is constantly being defined and re-defined, and it’s a lot harder as a marketer to direct the process.
And consider that the smartphone is emerging as one of the most popular mediums for B2B research. According to a recent study by Google and the Boston Consulting Group1 , 50% of B2B search queries are made on smartphones today, and that number is expected to grow to 70% by 2020. So your branding has to work very hard – on a very small screen.
So how do you keep a tight rein on your brand, and at the same time stand out in the multichannel universe? Here are some points to consider in strengthening your brand in the digital age:
Define your strategy first, then choose your channels
With the number of digital channels that there are to manage, it’s easy to fall into a silo approach – the online team looks after social media, customer service manages the review websites, sales creates videos for users, etc. But when it comes to your brand, it’s important to define your digital strategy first, and then choose the activities – and platforms – that will help you achieve it. To maximize your branding efforts, marketing must take the lead in setting strategy and direction, and be responsible for bringing all of the silos together.
Put resources into managing your social media
By managing your social media with a firm and observant hand, you can exert a surprising control over how your brand is perceived across your social channels. Take the lead with an active role and voice. Don’t let external commenters direct the conversation. Instead, your community manager(s) should keep the conversation lively and focused, with an emphasis on building relationships and loyalty. Create social media guidelines for everyone on your team who posts on social media, to ensure that your branding is consistent. Provide specific guidelines for handling any negative posts as well, as those interactions can quickly derail into arguments that can damage your credibility and destroy the positive environment of your online communities.
Let your employees do the talking
Don’t post video of your CEO making formal remarks. Instead, let your subject-matter experts do the talking. Your prospects and customers want to interact directly with the experts at your organization, who can offer valuable insights into your product or service. In the digital age, the experts are everywhere, not just in the C-suite. (Of course, you’ll need to support your public-facing employees with guidelines and advice on how to safeguard your brand and company online.) And don’t forget the experts who are outside your organization – the influencers in your industry, who your prospects also turn to for information and insights. Identify the key opinion leaders and influencers in your industry, and build relationships with them, and make sure they have all the information and access they need on your products and company.
Manage your online reviews
Online reviews aren’t just for B2C anymore; they have also become an integral part of the B2B sales cycle. For example, in Demand Gen Report’s 2018 B2B Buyers Survey, 65% of buyers said that B2B software and service reviews were “very important” as part of their research into solution providers2 . To start, identify the relevant review websites for your product and industry, and start tracking all of your online reviews. Your best approach is to respond to all reviews, both positive and negative. Keep your responses to the negative posts professional and positive, and don’t be drawn into debates. To encourage a higher volume of positive reviews, ask your customers to post a review, and direct them to your preferred review website.
For B2B brands in the digital age, there are challenges – and opportunities. For more information on how you can seize new opportunities and build a wider profile for your B2B brand, contact Gunther Walravens
1 “Mobile Marketing and the New B2B Buyer,” The Boston Consulting Group in partnership with Google, Oct. 2017, retrieved from https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/experience-design/b2b-marketing-reshaping-growth/
2 “2018 B2B Buyers Survey,” Demand Gen report, September 2018, retrieved from https://www.demandgenreport.com/features/industry-insights/b2b-marketers-embracing-review-sites-as-valuable-trust-building-tools-across-buyer-journey