The Courageous CMO: Prioritises brand building

It’s more important than ever to be remembered. 

In our fourth of a nine-part series of blog posts celebrating the courageous CMO, we explore why the strategic role of the CMO in brand building is critical.

B2B sales and marketing are becoming increasingly complex. Several surveys point out that decision-making groups within a company are getting bigger, and customer journeys are even more complicated. 

This perfect storm hits the marketing manager forcefully. The person in question needs to make choices based on facts from analyses to extract as much information as possible about the target groups and, with their gut feeling and experience, determine which creative means and distribution channels to go with, says Andreas Thue from Iteo. 

Creating growth through intelligent marketing communication is excellent in a marketing department in a typical B2B company, which is often thinly staffed, and where budgets are limited compared to what needs to be done.

Focus on building the brand

Over time, B2B marketing managers have had to prioritise short-term measures to help sales reach their quarterly goals. 

There is now a contradicting trend driven by both insights from research and experiences from marketing managers who have done everything by the book and invested in the brand. LinkedIn B2B Institute, in particular, has been pointing out to the CMO that they need to prioritise building brand awareness to gain market share and create more lasting growth, says Thue. 

It’s as simple as if the company is to grow; the strategy of only selling to those you already know is useless. Sales are bound to win new customers all the time. This exercise requires investment over time to create the memories and associations that influence the decision-making process after the ads have stopped running.

A strong brand is more credible, gives you a seat at the table more quickly, and makes the price a less critical factor. Therefore, it is essential to understand that the brand is the most important driver of growth and higher profitability, says Thue.


See Also: The Courageous CMO: must be innovative


The big three win 70 to 90 per cent of all sales

Equally important is being aware of the rule of 3. The rule of 3 was first presented in 1976 by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) consultant Bruce Henderson. It states that when we enter a buying process, at home and work, we remember three top brands. Several providers are part of the assessment, but in 70-90 per cent of cases, we choose one of the businesses that came to mind first. 

Henderson’s theory was that a mature market characterised by healthy competition often consists of three major providers in each segment, controlling 70 to 90 per cent of the market.

Thirty years later, BCG confirmed Henderson’s hypothesis after studying over 10,000 businesses between 1975 and 2009. The responses pointed out that a player must have at least 10 per cent market share to manage and that the three most prominent players often had 40%, 30% and 20% market share, respectively. This new version also highlights that there is usually room for three large and complete providers and a few specialised players in mature markets. In other words, it is essential to be on the podium. 

Therefore, the CMO should divide the budgets equally between building a brand to create awareness and the sales-inducing measures focusing on the rational and the credible, says Thue.


See Also: The Courageous CMO: Paves the way


BEO is more important than SEO

Using keywords is an important factor in winning the battle in digital channels. Researchers Jon Lombardo and Peter Weinberg argued that all marketers, whether B2B or B2C, now need to focus more on being remembered at the moment of purchase. 

They emphasise that the strongest search engine is the one we have in our brains. For marketers, it’s as simple as customers searching their memory before going to Google. If the answer is already there, we tend to choose the most natural choice and the one that feels right, says Thue.

Therefore, the researchers use the term brain engine optimisation (BEO) as more important than search engine optimisation (SEO) to point out that it is more important to be at the top search in your brain rather than being the first search result under the ads on Google. They refer to research from one of the world’s foremost researchers on the effect of marketing, which shows how the brand must connect to mental keywords that the buyer uses to look for answers in their brain in decision-making; This is not only important for winning new customers, but the research proves that being remembered reduces losses in today’s customer base. 

For sales and marketing, it is crucial to recognise that you probably won’t win the sale if buyers don’t remember you in the purchase process. Therefore, increasing awareness of the brand should be the highest priority for everyone who wants to sell more and reach new customers, Thue concludes.

69% believe B2B purchase decisions are as emotionally driven as B2C.

A survey by LinkedIn among marketers in 13 countries shows that almost seven out of ten believe emotions influence decisions within B2B as much as in the B2C segment. 89% of marketers agree that long-term branding is just as crucial in B2B as in B2C. A whopping 81% of B2B marketers in the study now report producing more creative campaigns that align with what we’ve set from brands in the consumer market. 

Source: LinkedIn B2B Institute


AndreasThue iteo2

About the author

Andreas Thue is the founder and managing director of Iteo, Norway’s leading B2B agency and one of four BBN partners in the Nordics. Iteo has been recognised as the best Communications-agency in Norway five years in a row (2017-2021) and as the best content & performance agency in 2021.

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