It’s no secret here at Search Mojo that we love conversions. Everything we do is for the goal of getting our clients more sales leads. Recently, I was doing some research on how to get more leads for some of my B2B clients, and I came across an interesting study titled “From Promotion to Emotion: Connecting B2B Customers to Brands,” by the CEB Marketing Leadership Council, in partnership with Google. It’s a fascinating study, and I encourage you to read it, but here are a few of the highlights that reminded me of the importance of brand image in B2B buying decisions.
This study observes that promoting business value helps get a company into a buyer’s consideration set, but it’s not enough to seal the deal. In response to the question “Do you see a real difference between suppliers and value the difference enough to pay for it?”, 86% of B2B buyers said no. The result of this is what CEB calls the “one of three” problem. A buyer has done their research and determined that the top three suppliers in an industry all provide business value, and any one of them could be good options. Whoever is left standing after a good ol’ fashioned price war ends up being the winner. In my opinion, that is one of the lousiest ways to lose a deal.
What was more interesting to me, though, was the finding that personal values have twice as much weight in a buyer’s decision process than business values. Many of the perceived risks that come with making a B2B decision are personal risks that fall on the buyer, such as losing time, losing credibility, or losing a job. B2B is a much more personal world than I realized, and B2B companies need to promote themselves in a way that appeals to buyers’ emotions as well as their rationale. In addition, for buyers that have a high brand connection with a potential supplier, the purchase rate was 64%, compared to a 5% purchase rate for buyers that had no brand connection.
Ultimately, this study tells me two things:
1) B2B companies need to have a strong brand image that can appeal to buyers’ emotions and offer the decision maker some personal value. It’s not enough to just promote the nuts and bolts of what you do because your competitors can do the same things you can. In order to win the deal, you have to be able prove to the decision maker that buying from you will be a good decision for their career.
2) Brand image needs to be integrated into all of the company’s marketing tactics. This is where I can play my part to get more leads for my clients. If I incorporate my client’s brand image into ad copy and landing pages, and communicate it in a way that provides some personal value to the potential buyer, then maybe I can get my clients more than just a seat at the table and win them a deal. Of course, I have limited time and space to communicate both business value and personal value, so finding a balance of the two will be crucial. If I focus too much on one, the other is lost.
I’m excited to go back and analyze what I have done so far with my clients and look for ways to improve it. Hopefully I’ll have my own data to share with you soon.
What do you think? How important is branding to the B2B buying process? Have you seen any different results that were caused by a heavier (or lighter) emphasis on brand image or personal value? Comment below if you have any input, and feel free to find me on Twitter: @BlaineAAnderson