It’s been said many times over that 2020 was a huge inflexion point for individuals and businesses. There were many macro trends impacting multiple industries, such as the rise of sustainability and a greater focus on remote work. That said, it’s important for marketers to remember that 2020 also saw an evolution in B2B decision-making.
Enter the BETA, a term coined by LinkedIn and GlobalWebIndex to describe the rising B2B decision maker, the first of the digital-native generation who are now stepping into the boardroom and increasing in influence. They represent a new, broader psychographic for B2B marketing that will drive shifts across businesses and among buyers at large.
For example, 74% of BETAs are involved in making buying decisions for their companies, and of this group, 51% are driving a digital approach to B2B buying. This means that a buying committee, with an average size of 6.8 individuals, will have four to five BETAs sitting on it.
While there are many implications following the rise of the BETA decision maker, those discussions would take an entire report to discuss. In this post, we’re more interested in key takeaways for engaging this audience. First, brands must communicate in ways that cut through the noise – in a bold, emotion-driven way with a clear brand voice. Second, BETAs are invested in brands who have a purpose and mission, so communicating that clearly is key. Third, given that BETAs are first-generation digital natives, brands have to engage them with a seamless buyer’s journey across multiple touchpoints, communicating with the BETAs across all your media platforms and channels.
The importance of brand marketing
One thing that stands out from the BETA research is the importance of brand-building. While this isn’t a new truism, the fact is that 72% of marketing budgets are focused on demand generation, based on a study by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA).
Why is this the case? Because direct response efforts yield fast results and quick hits and help meet business KPIs. It’s a no-brainer to allocate budgets to something that helps you meet your annual targets, but savvy marketers know that brand marketing works on a very different time horizon. It takes longer to ramp up, but it delivers better returns in the long term.
This isn’t to say that one is better than the other. Like many things in life, there exists a harmony between both sides of the marketing coin. The same IPA study shows that the optimal balance of brand and demand is a 60/40 split – 60% branding, 40% direct response, across all channels. That’s how you get optimal impact – pricing power, awareness, sales.
On social media, most brands would approach this split – 60/40 or not – in the following manner. Organic social media efforts are geared towards brand building, whilst paid social media efforts are geared towards demand generation. This approach makes a lot of sense, but what if these two areas could play off each other and therefore maximize your overall impact?
Start with a content strategy
At Archetype, we advocate starting any marketing plan with a content strategy. A great idea can live anywhere – our content-at-the-centre philosophy believes that compelling content drives conversations and action across any kind of channel.
Over many years of working with clients, we’ve developed a content strategy framework which borrows best practices from a few areas like storytelling, design thinking and customer experience.
Our framework begins with stakeholder mapping. Creating a stakeholder map allows you to identify who the members of your target audience’s buying committee are, their current struggles or pain points, along with their goals and motivations.
The second stage is about understanding the customer from a combination of customer interviews, buyer persona maps, or even workshops to understand the customer by proxy.
The third stage borrows from a design thinking methodology called Jobs-to-be-done, which dissects the insights from the second stage from a customer’s point of view, aiming to understand the goals the customer is trying to achieve, rather than the features that they are looking for. This approach provides clarity on customers’ pain points and overall customer journey.
The fourth, and final stage, is where we bring together the identified jobs and customer insights to create a content idea or point-of-view for the brand – the content strategy. This will align the messaging for your brand and demand efforts, ensuring a consistent message on both fronts.
The impact of a content strategy
This theory sounds great, but does this work? Here are two examples.
Last year, we worked with a telecommunications solution provider to develop their brand narrative in Asia Pacific. We ensured that the product and solution narratives had legs that branched out from the main brand narrative. In running the brand and demand generation campaigns according to the 60/40 framework, we found that our demand generation campaigns exceeded the campaign target by 8 per cent. While this may not seem like much, remember that the effects of brand marketing will compound year-on-year, and we expect more in the year to come.
The second example was with Subway’s franchise development team. We re-worked the brand’s engagement across their entire customer journey, including the brand narrative. We took an emotive route to show how Subway allowed people to own their future and be in charge of their destiny. With this, we ran a brand campaign featuring three franchisees with unique stories and amplified that on LinkedIn. This was followed by demand generation ads, which yielded qualified business opportunities with four times return on investment (ROI).
While we have examined how a content strategy can help your business with both paid and organic communications, you can still build a content strategy for just one track, I believe that it can deliver more out-sized impact when used to align all communication channels across earned, owned and social media.
If you’d like to hear more about how we develop content strategies, check out the recording from our recent LinkedIn webinar here. Alternatively, check out this article from my colleague explaining the key steps you should take to ensure an effective content journey.