B2B Decision-Making Is as Personal as It Is Professional

December 22, 2020

Portrait of a woman in a rose colored jacket, looking directly into the camera.

Business is personal: this is the overarching theme of Merkle B2B’s new research report, “Architecting the Ultimate Customer Experience: Introducing the 4 Brand Superpowers that Make it Happen.” We’re seeing tried and true B2B marketing practices of the past (think lead generation-focused, email heavy, and product-first messaging) fade into the background as experience-led, integrated, and emotionally relevant marketing programs become the goal. For brands that haven’t already made this shift, 2020 has ushered in an urgency to meet the expectations of younger and more digitally savvy B2B buyers, many of whom are working remotely.

While experience-led marketing might make you the easy choice for buyers, it’s not always easy to pull off. To wit: Merkle B2B found that 35% of enterprises surveyed have difficulty choosing a B2B supplier. Brands know that experience is king but putting it into practice seems to confound those who are tasked with strategy and execution.

The report promotes four “Superpowers,” or attributes of a brand’s marketing that hold both business and personal value to B2B buyers. Today’s B2B buyers want to improve their organizations and themselves personally when making a purchase. With this in mind, the Superpowers span business and personal “value adds” to ensure brands tick all the necessary boxes for buyers.

What are the four Superpowers?

Business value adds include Reliability and Understanding. These two Superpowers revolve around the need for brands to provide a level of service and common goal setting. Brands need to make their performance recognizable and anticipate future customer needs without prompting.

Personal value adds include Enrichment and Preeminence. These Superpowers make the customer feel more productive and innovative. The goal is for customers to be “proud” to associate themselves personally with your brand in the sense of, “I chose you, therefore I look better to my organization.”

How do these Superpowers factor into the buyer’s decision-making process?

Merkle B2B’s research found while some Superpowers maintain importance throughout the buyer journey, others rise to the top at certain touchpoints. Reliability and preeminence are important throughout a buyer’s relationship with a brand. Understanding is key across the journey for very senior decision-makers, while others, like enrichment, only factor in later stages. The research draws an important distinction between senior decision-makers and their less experienced colleagues in that the former group is “chronically underserved” by brands—the fact that these buyers may be less hands off in earlier research and consideration stages shouldn’t discount their need for brand experiences.

To learn more about the superpowers, B2B buyers’ experiences with brands, and the importance of millennial and Gen Z decision-makers, download the report.

About Merkle B2B and LinkedIn

In September, Merkle announced the formation of Merkle B2B. This agency introduced a new model of B2B marketing, where creative isn’t divorced from media, data, insight, or orchestration. In a year that demands innovation from brands, oftentimes while they reconcile with fewer resources, the stakes for marketers are higher than ever. But innovation doesn’t need to rest squarely on marketers’ shoulders. The most successful partnerships in our industry offer brands the tools they need to manifest what they never thought possible. That’s why we are proud to work with LinkedIn.  

LinkedIn holds the same view as Merkle B2B as to what constitutes end-to-end B2B experiences. Their product suite aligns seamlessly to Merkle B2B’s capabilities, enhancing our branding, media strategy and execution, marketing automation, CRM, research, and data practices. Built on years of trust and client success, the LinkedIn Merkle B2B relationship is poised to innovate on behalf of B2B brands big and small.

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