The Complex B2B Customer Journey:
The B2B customer journey has grown increasingly intricate, with multiple touchpoints scattered throughout the marketing funnel. The challenge lies in striking a balance between short-term sales activation and fostering long-term brand consideration at each stage of this journey.
While tactical and short-term marketing strategies are readily accessible and trackable, focusing solely on lead generation may be missing the bigger picture. LinkedIn's B2B Institute points out that over the past decade, lead generation marketers have dominated the B2B marketing scene by obsessing over immediate results and treating marketing as a precise science, closely tied to monetary outcomes.
However, this fixation on lead generation often neglects the importance of brand-building, which creates demand for products and services in the minds of potential buyers. The 95-5 Rule emphasizes that only a small percentage (5%) of category buyers are actively "in-market" for goods and services at any given moment. Therefore, relying solely on lead generation captures just a fraction of the potential market.
The Path Forward:
The guidance for B2B marketers is clear: instead of centering their strategy on lead generation alone, they should aim to create "category entry points" throughout the marketing funnel. Category entry points are the cues that buyers use to access their memories when considering a purchase.To establish these cues, marketers must find a balance between lead generation and strong brand messaging. These two approaches require distinct creative, media, and measurement strategies as customers progress through their journey.
There are promising signs that B2B marketers are recognizing the need for balance. According to the recent LinkedIn B2B Benchmark study, while lead generation commands the largest share of B2B budget allocation (36%), B2B leaders are also allocating significant budgets to brand building (30%) and demand generation (20%).
However, the emphasis on brand-building, especially at the top of the funnel, requires further attention. A B2B Institute report emphasizes that while activation-based marketing is effective for short-term results, it often lacks memorability and lasting impact. Brand-building, on the other hand, operates on an emotional level, creating long-term memories and associations that continue to influence purchasing decisions long after the advertising campaigns have run their course. In consumer marketing, a balanced allocation of 60% to brand-building and 40% to activation is optimal. However, in the B2B realm, this balance should be adjusted to 46% allocated to brand and 54% to activation, though this may vary by category and context.
Performance Branding in Action:
The success of this balanced, full-funnel approach is exemplified by recent activities on LinkedIn's platform. For instance, Fuji Electric collaborated with LinkedIn to engage B2B buyers globally. Their campaign focused on promoting vending machines to retailers, using a comprehensive organic and paid media strategy. Fuji Electric employed the top and mid-funnel to create an emotional appeal by sharing the history of its vending machine business, followed by product-focused content for retailers.
These campaigns highlight the potential of 'performance branding,' a strategy that blends brand-building with lead generation, engaging buyers throughout their journey and delivering results both in the short and long term.
In the realm of B2B marketing, 'performance branding' is a potent strategy that goes beyond simple click metrics. By blending lead generation with brand-building, it leaves a lasting impact and fuels growth. In an increasingly complex B2B customer journey, adopting this approach is the key to success in modern marketing. The Posh Agency can assist you in mastering the art of performance branding, offering tailored solutions to elevate your brand, generate quality leads, and navigate the evolving marketing landscape effectively.