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As 2021 approaches, industrial marketers face unprecedented challenges in solidifying their marketing plans for next year.

What’s a marketer to do? The answer is to balance two factors that largely determine both short-term and long-term marketing success: demand generation and branding.

While both branding and demand generation work in tandem as part of your complete marketing strategy, they perform different functions and have different attributes.

Demand generation:

  • Short-term campaigns (typically less than three months)
  • Highly-targeted to defined audiences
  • Messaging around solving specific problems

Branding:

  • Longer-term campaigns (typically more than six months)
  • Focused on gaining visibility in the market
  • Lays the groundwork for future business opportunities

According to research conducted by LinkedIn, B2B organizations allocate 45 percent of their marketing budgets, on average, to branding.

Marketers might be tempted to lean even more heavily toward demand generation in hopes of spurring short-term revenue growth, but an imbalanced strategy is unlikely to produce the desired results in 2021 for several reasons:

  • Short-term demand for products and services may be depressed during the pandemic and amid economic uncertainty, and no amount of marketing magic can change that.
  • Unless your company is a household name in the industrial sector, demand generation programs are forced to perform too much heavy lifting without the support of branding to keep your name top of mind with potential customers.

More reasons to balance demand generation and branding

  • Name recognition is important. Customers prefer to buy from brands they know and trust. It reduces the fear and risk involved in making a purchasing decision. There’s some truth to the old adage: “No one ever got fired for buying from IBM.”
  • Stronger brands command a price premium because buyers are will to pay more for brands they recognize and trust.
  • According to GlobalSpec’s upcoming “Pulse of Engineering” survey, only 34 percent of engineers say they are very or completely likely to be employed at the same company five years from now. That’s a lot of movement among your customers. If you lose an individual’s contact information when they change jobs, the only way to keep your company top of mind with them is through ongoing and broader branding campaigns.
  • Branding campaigns support short-term demand generation success by helping to shorten sales cycles. Salespeople are not starting at ground zero every time they engage with a prospect; instead, they are speaking to an informed person who already knows the brand attributes your company represents.
  • Branding allows you to reach beyond your own base and find new contacts and establish new connections, which is key to new growth.

Balance your measurement too

It’s easier to measure ROI for demand generation programs because their metrics are immediately available and results are known in a shorter time frame. Branding is a longer game that contributes to demand generation success but is more challenging to measure.

Track the effect of branding over a longer period of time. Choose metrics such as reach and visibility, name recognition, any trends in sales, or shortening of sales cycles. You could also allocate the costs of branding campaigns among your demand generation efforts under the assumption that branding is assisting those programs.

Combine branding and demand generation

Look for opportunities to gain both branding and demand generation benefits through integrated programs. Examples include using digital ads to promote a foundation webinar that features an industry expert. Or running a regular advertisement in an industry e-newsletter in which you offer brand-sponsored educational content.

Resources to help you

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