Building brand loyalty in the B2B space is no longer about following the same tried and tested stepsMarketers now have to go the extra mile to target and engage consumers while making their organization stand out. What tactics work for organizations in 2022 and beyond?
With Peter Stojanovic moderating, the speakers of this roundtable debate include:
- Chris Merrick, Senior Director Global Marketing, Shure
- Yafaa Ahres, Head of Marketing, Elsewhen
The B2B customer
Moderator Peter Stojanovic commenced the roundtable debate by asking the panelists whether they think B2B customers are getting “savvier about what they want”.
Elsewhen’s Head of Marketing, Yafaa Ahres, agreed with this statement. She believes that nowadays, customers have a lot more options available to “get their jobs done”. Her argument is that they are in a significantly better position compared to a decade ago. “I think from that, you have higher expectations on how you serve and interact with B2B customers”, she said.
Yafaa’s focus is on customer-centricity and having the basics covered. She believes marketers should further understand how they can serve the customer and how their company can help them on their journey. In the end, she argued that it goes back to your principles and how well you can engage with the customer. “Taking that brand and engaging with them in an authentic manner”, is what makes the organization stand out.
Shure Inc’s Senior Director of Global Marketing, Chris Merrick, agrees with the idea that B2B customers have more options available to them. He focuses on the “diverse” sources of information they have at hand.
“It’s so easy. We can all go on Google and if we put in the right search terms, we can find the whole category which we’re interested in”, he said. While this could prove useful for the customer, Chris highlighted one of the drawbacks of having too much choice. He argued that if a consumer searched for his organization’s market, they would come across Shure’s competitors along the way.
B2B brand loyalty – what works?
Peter asked: “How would you then share your advice on what has worked well?”.
Chris stated: “Like any B2B organization, we have to balance the short-term and the near term”. He recalled some “interesting literature” to emphasize his point. The LinkedIn B2B Institute published material about investing in long-term brand development and short-term activation. He stated that most of his customers have very long-term projects. “We have to continually maintain presence; re-engage”, he said.
Building long-term relationships with B2B consumers is one of the key factors of success according to Chris.
“It’s thinking strategically about your relationships, your customers and market rather than your transaction rate”, he said. He noted that while short-term plans and SEO are important, long-term is the “original success factor”.
“I experienced the same kind of challenges for other reasons”, said Yafaa. She set the scene by detailing Elsewhen’s recent business ventures. “We work with companies like Spotify, Google, Mastercard and others. But many organizations do not know us”, she said. Yafaa revealed that her organization struggles with brand visibility and awareness. Her hope is to use stories and engage people in order to achieve this.
Yafaa is in agreement with Chris when it comes to the long-term approach of building B2B brand loyalty with consumers.
“I think it’s absolutely key to engage outside this sort of sales cycle”, she said. She wants marketers to consider how to value add, engage the short and long-term. She offered the example of creating forums and tapping into online communities. “They really act as an enabler and contributor on things that matter to your audience and to you”, she explained.
Being part of the conversation, she argued, is key.
Navigating political issues
Peter highlighted that B2C marketing teams have a history of finding a relay between certain political events to navigate their brand against certain capabilities. He asked the panelists whether they had advice for B2B marketers when it comes to navigating political issues.
“Speaking for us as a brand we always have to stand for social justice”, Chris stated. He recalled how Shure was founded in Chicago in the 1920s, which he described as a “challenging social environment”. However, he pointed out that the founder, Sidney Shure, strived for equality between women and people from different cultural and racial heritages. Chris believes this is completely embedded in his organization’s brand.
Brand loyalty in the B2B space
The panelists started to think about the elements of space that the technology industry can be in and how brand loyalty plays into that.
Yafaa believes that brand loyalty is “interesting” in her view. She believes that the beginning of the conversation around the market reality today is that people have higher expectations around the consumerization of enterprises. “Customers would no longer accept to partner with a company that is vendor-centric, process-centric and not really focusing on them”, she said.
When thinking about brand loyalty in the space, Yafaa comes back to trying to answer the right questions. She wants marketers to consider the consumers. “Are you actually focusing on the customers and their needs? Are you truly trying to bring this customer experience to them? Are you meeting the expectations?”, she said.
Watch the roundtable above to discover more insights from these top marketing leaders.