Once upon a time, branding was an indispensable part of a company’s success in B2B sales. Marketing budgets spent on bold logos, memorable slogans, pricey sponsorships and colorful presentation were all devised for a simple overarching purpose: to get Sales in the door.
A company with strong branding could distinguish itself from competitors in the mind of a buyer long before the sales pitch. For Sales, better branding meant better odds a buyer returned your call, opened your mail, and visited your booth at an industry conference. It bred credibility.
This relationship was not always about the sale. A buyer might call a sales rep for no other reason than to hear about the latest products on the market, to make sure a competitor wasn’t enjoying a piece of technology they weren’t aware of.
Back then, buyers needed Sales to stay informed and make a purchase, and Sales needed buyers to stay employed. Strong branding, which would announce a company as a player, is what made this partnership possible.
Today’s B2B Sales Cycle
This B2B dynamic has changed, however. These days, buyers aren’t returning phone calls from anyone—great branding or not. They go online to do their own research, compare prices and features, and make purchases. Search engines are the new outlets for information, and Sales has less influence.
To make B2B sales today, you have to have a variety of content, distributed in a variety of ways, to create and deepen the awareness needed to bring buyers closer to the sale. Content solidifies your brand and creates awareness. Its role is to position your company as a trusted resource and problem-solver for your potential buyers—so they’ll think of you when purchasing time rolls around.
The design of a website, logo, or email campaign can shape a positive image of a company. But its payoff is murkier: How do you know if it had a part in creating or killing a sale?
Small and mid-sized companies with tight budgets don’t have time or money to waste. They need marketing-qualified leads today and sales-ready buyers tomorrow. Each precious penny dedicated to promoting the company or product needs to be justified. Did it translate into a lead? Did the lead become a sale? This is where demand generation can complement branding.
Content: the New Branding
Great content does what a traditional hardworking salesperson used to do: it shows up everywhere. A compelling white paper or infographic can be viewed, shared and linked to over an endless digital lifespan, attracting new buyers both identified and anonymous.
Placing that content in front of buyers, then tracking its success or failure, is critical for demand generation. When you publish a blog post, article or infographic, you can track exactly how many people consumed it—and when you require registration to download, you can tell exactly who they are.
Of course, gathering those insights requires technology tools like marketing automation software and website analytics, but if you’re using those tools properly, you can have an unprecedented level of visibility into how prospects are engaging with your brand.
Of those who consumed a piece of your content, how many downloads turned into leads? How many leads turned into sales? How much revenue was generated? Did it exceed the investment? With the right analytical tools, you can quantify your ROI.
A great logo and a beautiful website may or may not attract visitors to your product. It may or not have influenced a sale. But the B2B sales cycle is complex, and traditional branding is only a small piece of the puzzle. The cycle is bolstered by technological tools, great content, and seamless departmental integration. Are all of your bases covered?