In an increasingly complex digital world, marketers and business owners are driven to invest more and more online. Rightfully so, marketing budgets are increasing year on year, and if you’re not spending more on your own online marketing, then chances are your competition is.
Despite a moderate downturn in spending in 2020 (between just 5% and 15%) average Marketing budgets as a percentage of revenue sit’s around 11% (Source: 2020 Gartner CMO Spend Survey), it has also been cited that B2B service companies often sit higher at 15.6%.
With statistics like this, this might encourage some marketers to throw that spend at something you’d anticipate to see more immediate results, something directly measurable. Insert Paid or Digital Marketing, and rightfully so, as it’s quite likely that pressure to perform both for the organisations greater good and for that of the individual is increasing. Plus it’s an important element of any successful marketing effort.
For the purpose of this article let’s refer to this as “Demand generation”. In essence, where we create leads and have them engage and connect with our Brand.
But what’s next? how can you positively influence your “Brand Reputation”. Creating demand alone is simply not enough, and only one part of the equation. More leads, more traffic, more clicks. What else is doing the heavy lifting? What is the fate for the first time people land on your website? That's your Brand.
It is here where your opportunity to facilitate more effective demand generation presents the real opportunity for Growth. In particular when we know that according to CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council in partnership with Google (Now acquired by Gartner) that “B2B buyers are typically 57% of the way to a buying decision before actively engaging with sales.”
It’s evident to me there’s a misconception that building a strong brand is an unnecessary luxury. That it’s sufficient to focus on tactical demand generation or marketing initiatives alone, but what about the web experience for your user and that of your brand?
Sacrificed in favour of that short term and more immediately gratifying ROI of tactical marketing strategies it’s understandable that some may fail to appreciate the ROI of brand reputation. After all, it’s not always easy to draw a straight line between branding and the bottom line.
We’re not all Apple or Coke, but the evidence is there to suggest that modern companies that have invested heavily in building their brand are those who drive above-average profitable growth. And in an economy where 70% to 80% of market value comes from hard-to-assess intangible assets such as brand equity, intellectual capital, and goodwill” according to Harvard Business Review, and it has been suggested that 70% of B2B buyers cite company reputation as the most influential factor when choosing which company to do business with, I am increasingly concerned that many companies or organisations are not putting enough weighting as to what role their website plays with the acceleration of a more holistic "Digital First" world at play.
People are willing to pay for products and services they trust. Positioning yourself or your business through a well-considered Brand Experience once they begin to interact with your brand on your website is crucial. Importantly, when done well, is likely to create a bias when making a decision and allows you to demand a premium.
You can drive demand without a good brand, sure. But you can’t create loyalty or advocacy. When put together, the brand experience brings trust, emotional engagement and even simple recognition. While demand generation is the activator of all of that, in combination “demand” and “brand” are crucial in how you pave the path for engagement for your consumers in their journey.
At the end of the day, It’s in the middle, at that intersection, where growth lies.
by Ben McIntyre