I’ve posted before about the challenges B2B marketers face in presenting their brands as a clear and distinct option for customers. See Shopper-centric end to end merchandise optimisation.
A comprehensive piece of research from McKinsey backs this up. Not only are the brands themselves undifferentiated, but many of the attributes B2B marketers emphasise to gain a competitive edge are of ones that customers don’t actually care about.
Worryingly, of the top five themes that buyers say influence their perception of a supplier’s brand, only one – a high level of specialist expertise – is normally substantiated by the supplier. Buyers want to work with businesses that are leaders in their field, care about their customers and share their values. Instead, B2B marketers are wasting their breath shouting about global reach, corporate social responsibility and their employer’s ability to shape markets.
In the past, B2B businesses could get away with indistinct brands because most of the interface between them and the outside world was policed by sales teams for whom customer empathy comes naturally. But in the new content-driven B2B world, marketers are going to have to spend time understanding what really drives brand equity and use digital techniques to show how much they care about their customers.