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From Branding to Leads: Achieving Brand to Demand in B2B

The current macro-economic conditions are challenging B2B brands to make strategic choices in terms of budget and investment between brand and demand. Below are some of the key questions that marketers need to answer:

  1. What is the right mix of investment across brand and demand?
  2. How do I justify investment in brand advertising?
  3. How do I measure ROI of brand investment?
  4. Should I shift my budget from brand to demand to drive short-term results?

Brand advertising helps bring audiences into the funnel through brand recognition, while demand is focused on converting audiences who are interested in your brand to customers. Most of us would agree that there should be both to drive short- and long-term growth.  

Research from the Ehrenberg Bass Institute indicates that in the average B2B market, only 5% of potential buyers are in the "demand stage" and are actively seeking to make a purchase. In other words, the vast majority – 95% – of potential buyers are not yet ready to commit to a deal.

With this in mind, B2B marketers should understand the importance of investing in the "brand" stage to effectively nurture and engage with this substantial untapped audience, building trust and familiarity so that when the time comes, their brand will be top-of-mind and the preferred choice when those prospects are finally ready to make a purchasing decision. A LinkedIn study shows 56% of tech buyers prefer to work with established brands.

"Brand to demand" is a marketing strategy that focuses on building brand awareness and recognition, and then uses those efforts to generate demand for a product or service. The idea is that by building and promoting a strong brand with a clear message and value proposition, you can create a sense of trust and loyalty with your target audience.

The ideal mix of brand and demand

Finding the right balance between brand-building and demand-generation marketing efforts is crucial for businesses looking to maximize their marketing impact. Here are three key strategies to help you find that optimal balance:

1. Drive Growth

By striking a balance between generating new leads and fostering existing relationships, you can achieve sustainable long-term growth. The level of focus on brand depends on multiple factors such as current market position, short-and long-term business objectives, sales cycles, competitive landscape, etc. Customers and their behaviors are changing on a continuous and rapid pace along with the market, so having a brand presence to bring audiences into the funnel is crucial. It’s important to get organizational alignment and understanding around the long-term impact of brand activities and its halo impact on demand generation or product-focused campaigns.

An article from SiriusDecisions indicates that 90% of C-suite buyers say brand is moderately to significantly influential in shortlisting the buying process. Brands should invest in market research to understand how they are differentiated from competitors and identify trends in the market, consumers’ perception on brand value, and strengths. It’s also important to have audience personas (ideally customer profiles) laid out so that the right audience can be reached and engaged with relevant content in the media.

2. Increase Consistency

Brand and demand should be thought of as a unified strategy to drive long-term impact. Ultimately it should provide a better experience across the entire buyer journey as buyers do not differentiate between brand or demand efforts. Mapping out the buyer journey along with intent data, firmographics, and buyer personas can help create a consistent message that resonates with audiences across the journey. By understanding the different stages of the buyer journey, you can tailor your messaging to meet the needs of prospects at each step along the way.

Sixty-four percent of buyers feel that ads don’t always demonstrate a good understand of their organization’s problems. The brands that can really tune into their audience’s needs have an advantage. Buyer segmentation, along with content intelligence to understand what type of content drives higher engagement, is key to having a seamless customer experience. The buying committee is getting bigger, hence providing relevant content based on the members of the buying committee is critical. Conducting voice-of-customer studies to understand customer pain points and issues can help shape content with the sales team.

3. Enhance Effectiveness

Brand impact is typically measured through brand score, reputation, and familiarity using brand tracker studies. It doesn’t quantify its impact on business outcomes such as pipeline/revenue generated.

Thirty-three percent of budget holders are skeptical of brand marketing driving growth, and 28% report that one of the challenges of brand marketing is the lack of brand metrics tied to growth. It’s critical to measure short-term and long-term impact (such as revenue) on brand investment and measure the effectiveness of channel across geography and product/solution offerings. Short-term effectiveness related to an increase in branded searches, direct traffic, social mentions, referral traffic, and overall site engagement could be continuously measured and correlated to brand metrics to create a composite score.  Individual marketing channel effectiveness across brand investments can be identified by looking at historical data to determine the point of diminishing return and optimization algorithms can be deployed to identify the minimum level of spend across channels for maximum returns.

Whenever possible, controlled geography testing on demand-only campaigns can be deployed to show incrementality in consideration or purchase intent driven by brand investments. It’s also important to set up brand studies to measure cross-channel lift to show the impact of brand campaigns on demand or product-specific campaigns. Market mix modeling with long-term effects can also be used to identify the contribution of brand advertising in driving long term sales or pipeline.

In summary, the "brand to demand" strategy serves as a unifying approach that requires careful consideration of both customer experience and brand objectives in the market. To effectively gauge its impact, a robust measurement framework is crucial – one that not only tracks brand metrics but also accounts for its short-term effects on leading indicators such as site metrics, engagement, and conversion rates, as well as long-term business outcomes like sales and pipeline generation.

Want to see how we can help your brand find this balance? Contact our team of experts here to start a conversation.