The tide is turning

June 14, 2024
Josh Tilley
Brand Strategy Director

Since marketing began, B2B has been overshadowed by its B2C counterpart, largely due to the seemingly less glamourous subject. There’s no denying that selling a laptop is more appealing and straightforward than supply chain management.

However, the tide is turning, presenting an opportunity for B2B marketers to draw inspiration from their consumer-focused counterparts.

Traditionally, B2B marketing in manufacturing, has focused on precisely targeting decision-makers in procurement and operations. However, it’s an oversimplification to ignore the importance of branding. A brand represents more than just a logo; it’s the reputation, value and overall experience associated with your offering.

And being at the forefront of decision-makers’ minds during crucial moments – whether they’re selecting suppliers or buying something from Sainsbury’s – holds the same importance in B2B markets and consumer-driven industries.

The B2B marketing landscape is evolving due to technological advances, which have broadened marketing channels and provided access to extensive data. This is reshaping the ways brands approach marketing, requiring an emphasis on building strong brand identities.

Previously, B2B companies relied on traditional methods like trade publication ads and conventions. Today, they can leverage data to target niche audiences through digital channels, creating deeper connections with customers and enhancing emotional resonance, similar to consumer brands.

This isn’t an opportunity; it’s a necessity. While communication can focus on product superiority or competitive pricing, manufacturers must also evoke emotion to avoid losing the sale.

Herein lies an opportunity for B2B businesses to draw inspiration from their B2C counterparts. What sets them apart is not solely their creative approach, tone of voice or personality. Rather it’s clarity in brand concept, ambition, and the quality and value they embody.

A clear, consistent brand message fosters credibility, even among unfamiliar prospects. Just as consumers can describe McDonald’s, a manufacturer’s clear proposition and values can establish it as a credible choice.

The importance of consistency extends beyond brand message.

Advancements in technology have changed how customers in the manufacturing sector source information. A strong online presence is now essential for meeting customer demands.

In a consumer-driven world, seamless experiences across touchpoints are expected, whether renewing a streaming subscription or engaging with a manufacturer online.

Likewise, as access to brands become more consistent across channels our expectations of B2B have escalated. People’s perceptions of brands remain consistent across professional and personal environments, blurring the lines between B2B and B2C. Thus, B2B manufacturers must adapt to meet these expectations.

However, consumer and business marketing aren’t fully interchangeable.

Unlike consumers, who often purchase based on personal identity and values, B2B buyers prioritise different criteria such as reliability, and functionality. Personal preference plays a minimal role, unless a brand’s products are crucial for business.

B2B purchasing decisions are longer and more meticulous compared to consumer purchases. Consequently, B2B brands must emphasise reassurance and credibility, rather than flashy marketing tactics.

While uniqueness and trendiness can drive consumer sales, the best B2B brands are valued for their quality, utility, and value they bring. These attributes form the bedrock of trust which B2B buyers rely on to support their organisation’s needs.