Most B2B Brands Aren’t Playing the Long Game. They Should Be. [Pocket Guide]

July 29, 2021

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A recent headline offers a message today’s marketers are wise to take to heart: 95% of B2B buyers are not in the market for your products

This takeaway comes from a recent study carried out by Ehrenberg-Bass for the LinkedIn B2B Institute. The math isn’t all that complicated: Companies change providers of B2B services every five years or so; therefore, only 20% are in the market for those services in a given year, and just 5% in a given quarter. 

That leaves 95% who are not actively looking to buy. And yet, so much sales and marketing outreach assumes the opposite. Short-term sales activation messages aimed at a non-receptive audience are not only ineffective, but sometimes counterproductive. 

The key lesson here is one we explore in our new pocket guide: Modern B2B marketers need to play the long game.

Striking a Strategic Balance Between Brand and Demand

We’ve seen a number of changes and shifts take place since the onset of last year’s pandemic. One of them is the recommended ratio of marketing investment into long-term brand vs. short-term demand objectives.

Previously, marketers were investing an estimated 45% of budget into brand marketing. Today, the recommended split is 60/40 in favor of brand. This doesn’t mean demand generation tactics should be left behind, but generally speaking, marketers should really be leaning into brand-building as a central complement and precursor.

In our new guide, Brand to Demand: Harmonizing Long-term Brand Strategy with Short-term Activation Tactics, we offer advice on finding your best balance with a full-funnel approach that aligns with evolving buyer behaviors and market realities.

Learn how and why to play the long game by understanding and leveraging these concepts:

  • The Availability Heuristic. A majority of buyers in your audience are not ready to move at the moment, but they will be at some point. When that time comes, will your brand be the first to come to mind? 
  • The Affect Heuristic. Beyond simple awareness, does the thought of your brand trigger positive thoughts and associations within your audience? This heuristic basically states that if someone likes a brand, their views of that brand’s solutions and benefits will be positively impacted.

Accounting for these mental shortcuts, it’s easy to see why imprinting your brand in the minds of buyers in a favorable way should be an utmost priority. 

Improve Your Brand’s Future Position, Today

In the guide, you’ll find tips for better brand-building on LinkedIn and beyond. We address important questions and challenges, such as:

  • How can you accurately measure the impact of brand campaigns when the cause-and-effect is not as straightforward as direct response? (Hint: Give your campaigns time to play out and do their jobs!)
  • What’s the right targeting balance for branding efforts: narrowly focused or broader?
  • How can you integrate organic and paid tactics to maximize brand marketing effectiveness on LinkedIn?
  • What’s the right mix of rational vs. emotional ads?

Neither brand nor demand strategies can thrive in isolation. When done right, each side feeds the other, creating a “virtuous loop” that drives sustained brand growth. Our research finds, for example, that audiences exposed to both brand and acquisition messages on LinkedIn are 6x more likely to convert.

As Professor John Dawes of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute puts it: “There aren’t that many business clients that will say ‘You know what, I’m comfortable signing a contract with a company that I’ve hardly ever heard of before.’ That plainly isn’t the way the world works. People operate using their memory. Overcoming that familiarity disadvantage does take years to do.”

Needless to say, there’s no time to waste. Create your own virtuous loop. You’ll find a blueprint in our pocket guide, which includes a practical five-step framework to get you heading in the right direction. Download Brand to Demand: Harmonizing Long-term Brand Strategy with Short-term Activation Tactics.

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