The value of a brand in a B2B model
Because the purchasing process in B2B is no longer a mere rational transaction
Traditionally, the B2B client has been considered “rational“, transactional, driven by their business needs, with a high focus on product/service specifications and price.
In general, B2B marketing has distinctive features compared to B2C. Thus, in a very brief way, the identification of the consumer with the product is usually less important, prioritizing other aspects such as productivity or its functionality. The price can be negotiated and personalized for each client and communication is usually rational, of a technical nature and through specialized channels and/or personalized activities between experts and clients. The role of the salesperson, on the other hand, can become vital due to his technical knowledge and the bond of trust with the client. On the demand side, there is certain rigidity and costs associated with a change of supplier. And the (prolonged) purchase process includes players with different profiles and priorities according to their role in the client company.
However, why do we continue to assume that the decisions of the B2B consumer are absolutely rational and based on fully known and defined needs? What would it be like to be able to identify the motivations and emotions behind the intentions of the B2B buyer? Moreover, what would it be like to know what the customer does not tell us in his or her purchase decision? What fears, interests, innovations, strategies, subjectivities, etc. influence his or her behavior? Do not underestimate the importance of what is said and what is not said. Customers are more than just people/companies who buy a product. Numerous studies of marketing behavior show that consumers offer “limited rationality” in their purchase motivations, while certain “irrational” behaviors follow certain patterns. Thus, it is difficult to predict with certainty the decisive factors in their purchasing behavior, which, in turn, is influenced by their individual personality and their interpretation of what the company expects from them.
Consequently, today more than ever, there is a need to have a solid, coherent and clear brand that transmits a proposition with which our client feels identified, “in his rationality and irrationality“. From the perspective of the B2B consumer, there are multiple advantages of having a supplier focused on a consistent brand strategy in a B2B model. The following list offers some of these benefits, in a very summarized way, which might apply in different scenarios:
- Identification with the supplier’s value proposition in a broad sense and beyond the specific properties of the acquired product.
- Access to greater resources – Extended product – for the different company players (e.g.: commercial and/or technical training, after-sales service, substitute product, continuous training, point of sale material, commercial advice, financing, access to innovations and trends, etc.).
- Access to a high awareness brand among the final customer.
- Benefit from the supplier’s marketing and brand investment. Indirectly, the brand also takes care of the final customer on behalf of its client.
- Possibility of developing supplier-customer win-win brand projects (for example, retail projects for the final customer or product development with resources of the B2B supplier).
- Commitment, image, guarantee, trust towards the brand and, by extension, the supplier.
- The brand value proposition includes benefits that would otherwise be assumed by the customer as an additional cost (training, image, etc.).
With this approach, the B2B supplier must take into account some strategic and organizational considerations. Among others:
- The brand and its content as a differentiation tool from the competition and substitute products.
- The brand as a negotiating power tool.
- The brand as a loyalty tool.
- Less dependence on individual commercial profiles.
- The brand as a source of innovation and market knowledge and promoter of direct collaboration and trust with the client.
- The brand as a driver of a push-pull strategy.
- Need for a marketing mentality within the company, from the board of directors to the bottom of the organization.
- Conviction of the need for continuous marketing investment in the mid and long term (versus perception of cost).
In conclusion, building and developing a consistent and valuable brand is a success driver in B2B models, far beyond the mere commercial transaction.