Industrial marketers sometimes overlook branding efforts in favor of programs that deliver easily measurable results such as clicks, conversions and engagement opportunities. But the fact is that branding is a powerful and necessary marketing strategy. Without a strong brand to influence your audience, those other more measurable programs may not work.
Research has shown that engineers and other B2B buyers are not simply rationally-minded decision makers. Emotions also play a role in B2B purchasing decisions. Customers feel better buying from a company that they recognize and respect; in other words, from a brand that makes them comfortable and confident in their decision.
A strong brand reduces risk for buyers
You’ve heard the expression, “No one has ever gotten fired for buying IBM.” That might be the most effective brand statement in history. What it means is that buying from IBM is the right choice because its brand is reputable and safe. Many companies who might have offered better products and feature sets lost business to IBM simply because of IBM’s brand strength. A strong brand mitigates the perception of risk and alleviates some of the fear that buyers inevitably experience when facing a purchase decision.
A strong brand provides clarity
Effective branding puts a stake in the ground that says to potential customers: “This is who we are, this is what we do, and this is why we do it.” Your customers will buy more confidently because they know what your brand stands for.
A strong brand creates trust
Business is all about relationships, even when the products offered for sale might be perceived as commodity components. And relationships are based on trust. Without trust, there is no transaction. If a potential customer trusts your brand, he or she is more likely to buy from you.
A strong brand fosters customer loyalty
Many industrial companies have customers they have supplied for years. These are your loyal customers. Very few industrial buyers will change their supplier if an unknown company comes calling with an offer of similar products for 10 percent less. If you show that your brand is worth trusting, customers won’t be tempted to make a change to a competitor.
A strong brand gets you in the game
For the majority of engineers, nearly 60 percent of the buying process happens online before they speak to a vendor, according the survey “2019 Smart Marketing for Engineers,” published by IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing. If you don’t have a strong brand presence, you might never be found by potential customers in the early stages of their buying process, and you won’t be in the game when it’s time for engineers to make a purchase decision.
A strong brand can shorten the sales cycle
If your brand is known and recognized in your market, your sales people can save a lot of time by not having to explain what your company is about and why a prospect should buy from you. With an unknown brand, sales people are starting at the bottom rung with every sales opportunity. They have to work to convince prospects that your company and products are worthy.
Effective ways to strengthen your brand
Branding should be an integral part of your marketing strategy, if it isn’t already. Fortunately, branding tactics don’t have to work in isolation; they can also help to generate engagement opportunities with your target audience.
Here are ways to build and strengthen your brand:
Have a stellar company website. Not just a website—an exemplary one. Easy to navigate, fresh content designed for your target audience, and landing pages and conversion forms to capture leads. For most engineers (89 percent), a company’s website has an impact on their perceptions of them as a credible, technically competent vendor (Smart Marketing for Engineers).
Produce content. Ninety percent of engineers are more likely to do business with companies that produce new and current content. Your ability to continually educate and meet the informational needs of your audience during their buying process is one of the most effective ways to bolster your brand’s reputation.
Use display advertising. Display ads on industrial websites offer broad brand exposure to your target audience, helping to increase visibility and awareness. Ads can serve two purposes—branding and engagement—by driving users to landing pages containing offers and conversion forms.
Show up in an engineer’s inbox. Placing advertisements in targeted, industrial e-newsletters can get your brand into the inbox of motivated engineers and industrial professionals.
Keep up a social media presence. Don’t ignore social media just because it’s not a big lead generator. Social media is an effective way to keep your brand visible to your customers and the market. Use social media to distribute content, participate in conversations, and reinforce your position as a market player.
Exhibit at tradeshows. While tradeshow attendance has been declining in recent years, exhibiting at select events is still a good way to increase visibility to a targeted audience and to show your audience the people behind your brand. Choose your tradeshows carefully, as they require investment and planning.