Brand leaps to front of B2B sales funnel: Half of business buyers begin with brand in mind
Brand is now as important to B2B marketers as B2C marketers, and should be focused on even more for the business market, global director of integrated marketing for Kimberly-Clark Professional Ethelbert Williams told the ADMA Global Forum.
“Purchases in B2B are bigger decisions,” Williams said. “It’s not like buying a pair of shoes or shorts; the purchase cycles are pretty complex.
“Business buyers are more and more emotionally connected to brands, because they have a lot more to lose.
“We dug into some data and found that 48% of buyers begin with brand in mind. That represents an amazing opportunity to get on their shopping list.”
The digital transformation has impacted on sales cycles – changing them from linear purchase funnels to continuous loops – bringing the practices of B2B and B2C closer together, Williams continued.
“For the most part, the same tenets hold true for B2B and consumer marketing – story-telling, disruption, innovation, proper segmentation and engagement.”
Social media is also as important for B2B marketers, both as a means to market to buyers, as well as understand who they are and how to communicate with them.
According to Williams, 60% of buyers look to social channels and communities to help them make decisions on their journey. It’s now a major channel to seed content and build brand, but also a great way to research the buyer.
“You’re marketing to person, not a title,” Williams said. “It’s easy to fall into that trap as we create personas around businesses. Taking a page from our consumer marketing peers’ book, we can unlock how to reach them and communicate in their language through social media.”
Social media can also help buyers feel confident about their purchase, which can cause them to make quicker decisions, spend more money and feel validated their decision was the right one.
With 83% of buyers researching online before making a purchase decision, the need to build strong brands and digital content is vital in order to stay one step ahead of the competition, Williams concluded.