In the final post of our three-part “Marketing Madness” series, we’ll examine the importance of B2B marketers developing a personality for their brands to better appeal to customers.
As the content marketing ecosystem becomes increasingly saturated, B2B marketers are forced to find creative ways to stand out from the crowd. To complement their existing account-based marketing campaigns and post-sales engagement strategies, B2B marketers are turning to a tactic usually reserved for B2C companies: developing brand personalities.
Inspiring long-term customer relationships starts with authentic brand personalities
Let’s be honest — B2B marketing can be boring. Sales data and product specifications can be dull, and usually don’t excite or woo prospective customers. Prospects aren’t exactly leaping out of their seats to learn about the technical steps required for a software implementation.
“You need to consider the emotional intelligence of your organization,” says Adam Beeson, communications director at G2 Crowd. “Ask yourself: How does your business connect to your audience?” At the end of the day, even though businesses are marketing themselves to other businesses, the final decision maker is a person with emotional biases that sway his or her choice.
With a brand personality, marketers inject a little humanity into their organizations and inspire deeper relationships with their buyers. Advertising a company’s philanthropic efforts, for example, is one way to relate to prospects but can also be a double-edged sword for marketers. On the one hand, customers might view charitable efforts as businesses being socially responsible. On the other hand, some prospects could interpret a company’s volunteer work as disingenuous. Consumers can sniff out a fake from a mile away and are likely able to tell when a company’s actions are genuine and when they aren’t practicing what they preach. With the right association, B2B marketers can round out their company’s brand personality and appear more relatable to future buyers.
Unfortunately, businesses may lose prospects who don’t see eye-to-eye with a specific brand personality. Bringing emotions into the fold is inherently risky, especially if customers aren’t expecting a software company to comment on things like current events or social issues. A company taking a divisive stance, like supporting gun control, will likely turn away customers who strongly believe in the right to bear arms.
Crafting the narrative: finding stories that resonate with customers
Once you have uncovered your business’ brand personality, it’s time to mold it into a compelling narrative that resonates with the target audience. Lisa Agona, the CMO of Ensono, recommends primary research to learn how clients describe your business in emotional terms. “Calling out the emotion behind your brand is important when building a relationship with a B2B audience,” says Agona. Through surveys and a little online digging, Ensono discovered feelings of nostalgia were a great way to connect with a millennial audience.
With a better understanding of how customers perceive them, businesses are taking to social media platforms to reach their buyers with engaging content. Platforms like LinkedIn are typically reserved for sharing corporate-related news, but other venues like Facebook and Instagram can spotlight employees and company culture. SpringCM uses social media to share photos and video clips of a live band they house in their office, adding an element of fun to an organization that sells business software.
However B2B marketers choose to show off their brand personality, remember: At the end of the day, you’re still trying to convert prospective buyers into long-term customers. A brand narrative still should tell the story of how companies can solve their customer’s problems and illustrate the value they gain by purchasing a product or service. Social media content is a great way to initially engage with prospects, but businesses also need to back it up with content that drives final sales.
As with any marketing journey, don’t be afraid to rework the tone of the brand voice based on results and change. Are your customers no longer reading newsletters after a shift in messaging? Are businesses contacting your sales teams because they don’t understand what a business does based on the brand personality advertised? It’s not enough for marketers to magnify their brand voice once they’ve found it — they also need to measure their efforts to maximize revenue. With the right combination of a strong brand personality and engaging content, B2B marketers can capture their prospects’ interest and see them through to a final sale.