Brands only have so many ways to develop leads, no matter if they are B2B or B2C. Below is the macro context of the business development marketplace.
- Search (Inbound)
- Brand Awareness (Inbound)
Search is part of our everyday lives. We wake up in the morning, pour some coffee, and open Google to search “morning mantras,” “midweek dinner recipes,” or “what’s going on… besides COVID;” Questions like these and countless others are submitted to search engines hoping they return valuable answers.
As the world is increasingly more digitally native, younger generations turn first to the internet for answers. When users search for your product, understandably, you want to be first in line to answer their questions. It does not matter if you sell shoes to end-consumers (B2C) or provide industrial machine repair services (B2B).
Search allows your business to compete via two pull marketing and inbound techniques: SEO and content marketing.
Advertising, in concept, is well-understood. Fundamentally, nothing has changed since the 16th century.
It is a pay-to-play communication model; historically, the options were limited and opaque; now, the options are more numerous and transparent (although Facebook, Amazon, and Google control the marketplace).
Digital advertising has seen widespread adoption because it is relatively inexpensive, somewhat intuitive, and allows you to track ROI. However, there is often a lack of understanding regarding acquisition cost. Specifically, how much a brand will ultimately spend to achieve and maintain a customer over time (i.e., customer lifetime value.)
Advertising content consists of stories and information about your business’s goods and services. For instance, say you want to promote the B2B service mentioned above, “industrial machine repair service.” You may decide to show individuals seeking this information a video demonstrating your expertise and unique product offering. Or, perhaps you want to market directly to companies that deploy industrial machines and have them read your blog to extoll your sparkling reputation and 40 years of expert service.
The content you promote is the foundation that gives life to new leads.
Unlike Search and Advertising, brand awareness is more imprecise. It includes any activities used to promote the brand’s awareness and stickiness. In addition to the above, this includes partnerships, endorsements, PR, activations, word of mouth/gorilla marketing activities, and more.
Brand awareness is most significant to your success in markets where your company competes against well-known products and services. For example, imagine your startup B2B company sells accounting software targeted at the wine industry. You would have a difficult journey ahead with a market saturated with products like Quickbooks.
Brand equity is measured by share-of-voice research and what we call market propensity research which helps businesses understand the basis of competition for your product.
Referral marketing is a powerful means to provide social proof for your product or service. It comes in a few flavors: digital and analog.
Analog referral is when customers endorse your product or services to their network. This can be powerful for any business, but it is particularly beneficial to higher-end products where consumers seek to justify their spending with a trusted resource.
Digital referrals are when one website references another website as a resource. For example, many publications produce a Holiday Shopping Guide every year, linking to many of their favorite products or gizmos. These guides drive significant downstream traffic to each company, often selling out the product. Digital referrals are frequently the result of public relations.
Referrals are beneficial to B2B or B2C. In addition to increasing awareness, every time your business is linked to online by a reputable business (this is called a backlink), it improves your domain authority and organic SEO.