Are Taking Advantage of Niche Marketing? B2B Branding Agencies For B2B Businesses
Over the last decade, we’ve seen an explosion of B2B businesses who have single-handedly disruptive the traditional way business to business works. From crowdfunding brands like Kickstarter and project management systems like Slack to flexible office spaces like WeWork, B2B brands have taken center stage and are continuing to succeed.
While these large B2B companies clearly understood the value of hiring B2B branding agencies early on (look at their success), there still seems to be some resistance from small- and mid-size B2B brands when it comes to investing in building a quality brand to show off to their B2B customers. Why is that?
Small Biz and B2B Branding
We often find that small-sized B2B companies don’t see the need to properly brand their businesses because they’re only selling to other businesses. Many brands are confident that their B2B clients make the decision to work with them because of functional reasons rather than brand-like reasons—pricing structure, the convenience to work with them, availability, and quality of work.
While these components are crucial to the success of any brand, they’re certainly not the only things that matter. Authenticity, consistency, messaging, a clean, crisp look—it matters to customers no matter who they are, businesses or consumers.
With more B2B brands popping up left and right, the line between an individual and a brand has become thinner and thinner. For example, freelancing has made its mark over the last couple of years jumping from 14% to 28% and making up close $1 trillion in GDP. And tech and automation are thinning the customer-brand line too. The tech and automation industries are making smaller teams than ever before, ones that are capable of scaling work without hiring large numbers of people.
It’s not just the customer-brand structure that’s changing either, branding and marketing have evolved dramatically too. With so many companies, large numbers of agencies, and ever-advancing target and analytics technology readily available to anyone willing to put the time in, it’s easier than ever to deliver the right solutions to the right people at the right time.
What is B2B Branding?
Branding often gets set on the back burner for B2B businesses because they’re not dealing with regular consumers. Yes, the B2B client is much different than the B2C client, but they’re still a valued customer.
B2B clients tend to be much more careful about decisions and make sure to weigh strategic considerations before making a purchase, therefore that buyer journey is generally a longer process.
This makes plenty of sense. The cost of B2B products and services tends to be a lot higher than the cost of B2C, and B2B buyers have a different (and riskier) relationship with their buying decisions. And the more decision-makers involved, the more back and forth is bound to happen—more approvals are required, and the more they really pay attention to those functional factors we mentioned earlier.
B2B branding has a lot to do with making sure those functional components are branded, authentic, and consistent as well so the client has a seamless, branded sales experience. Yes, even that technical information about your product or solution has to be on-brand.
B2B branding ultimately lets your clients know that your business is easy to do business with, and that’s powerful.
The Key Differences Between B2B and B2C Branding
1. Buyer Personas
While B2C customers make individual buying decisions or ones for their families, B2B buyers are part of a larger group of decision-makers and employees. Because of these differences, B2B and B2C buyers have different buying motivations—B2C being for individual or household needs and desires, and B2B being for entire companies full of people who can and will be affected by a purchasing decision.
2. The Level of Product Information
B2C consumers tend to make more emotion-based and impulsive decisions, while B2B buyers are likely to do more research before making a purchase. Now, this doesn’t mean that consumers don’t care about a product’s information, it just means that B2B brands are likely making larger, more expensive purchases, so they want to know the ins, outs, and in-betweens of what they’re going to spend money on. Branding needs to be tailored to those needs.
Like previously discussed, the price of a B2B transaction is most likely much higher than a B2C transaction, but this isn’t the only thing that differentiates B2B vs. B2C pricing. When selling to a consumer, that consumer is charged the same price that every other consumer sees. When doing B2B business, prices, packages, and contracts may vary depending on the particular situation. Not all B2B sales are created equal, it’s just the name of the game.
4. Sales Cycle
B2C transactions are usually focused around just that, the transaction. Once the purchase has been made, the process is usually over. But that’s not how the B2B sales cycle works. When it comes to B2B, the whole purchasing process becomes an investment for both sides. It takes time and multiple steps of approval from different decision-makers and that cycle and relationship must be nurtured to the very end, even beyond the sale.
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B2B: The Benefits Of A Niche Agency For Brands
All of the recent personalization and key audience targeting has led to the rise in niche markets of all kinds—people with particular skill sets who are there to help people with specific wants and needs.
So then the question becomes if you know you need branding as a B2B company, why wouldn’t you find a niche marketing agency who really knows your industry and can offer key insights on how to better relate to your business clients.
You wouldn’t hire a babysitter whose only experience with kids is that they once were on, right? Same goes for any branding or marketing agency that you hire.
For example, if you were a B2B SaaS company who worked in the boutique health and wellness training industry, you would want to seek a B2B branding agency with plenty of experience in that industry.
Your relationship with B2B and branding should feel like a partnership. Both parties bring the right stuff to the table, and everyone has a role. A B2B branding agency’s role is to help your brand define and magnify its value, and your role is to bring your industry expertise to the table while an agency brings theirs.
The point is to make sure you find and hire an agency with plenty of experience in what you do.
What Successful B2B Branding Looks Like
1. Leverage Brand Storytelling
There’s nothing quite like a great story, and having a great brand story will be one of the major factors that will attract and retain customers. B2B brands need a brand story that aligns with their business strategy, their values, their purpose—it’s a must.
Effective storytelling is was gives that human context to a brand and to a sale. That’s how some of the top B2B brands gained their success—brand storying is the secret sauce.
Take Microsoft for example. They take their storytelling seriously with Microsoft Stories, a platform that features employees from every department of their company from top to bottom. Microsoft’s employees bring forth the human element of the brand—something that shows the world they’re more than just a large corporation.
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2. Brand Experience Is Everything
Pay very close attention to the experience that your brand offers. Customers are looking for an experience that is enjoyable, worthwhile, and simple beyond the standard, expected customer service. And with so much focus on the service and experience that brands are willing to offer their customers, it’s become less about the actual product at all.
How do you build an experience that’s intriguing and worthwhile to your customers? Try building an emotional connection. Customers want more than to make a purchase. They want something they will remember, something they can feel.
Keep people—yes, people, not sales—at the heart of your B2B marketing strategies. Build a supportive, positive community around your brand, and even encourage your customers to engage with each other. The more you create a positive experience around a strong community, the greater your relationships will be with B2B clients.
3. Leave No Audience Interaction Un-Branded
Yes, your audience matters and you have to make sure that everything they see is on-brand and consistent but don’t forget about every other interaction in your business.
Your employees matter and the interactions you have with them need branding too. Employee handbooks, on-boarding material, the sign in your bathroom, it all has to sound like it came from your brand—because it did!
Branding the boring sh*t can seem silly, but think of it this way. Your employees are the spokespeople of your brand—they’re the frontline of your B2B sales and marketing. It’s crucial to make sure everyone in your company is on the same page, using the same voice, and repping you right. That all starts with branding.
Don’t forget about your investors, they matter too, and so does your media. Are your investor interactions branded? How are your brand experiences with media communication? Make sure everything is consistent and true to your brand, even the stuff B2B customers will never see.
The Grand Ol’ Takeaway
Ultimately, your brand story is important and it should be told. A consistent brand story should always align with your B2B business strategy. Pay attention to all of your audiences, all of the boring stuff (the stuff that you don’t think needs to be branded), and remember the power of nurturing relationships. Everything deserves a strategy.Are you scratching your head, not sure where to start? Meet with the Bareknuckle, the niche of B2B branding agencies. Sit down, Buy Us a Beer, and let’s talk how you can rock your B2B industry.