Marketers frequently consider brand awareness to be a B2C-related activity. Little attention is given to B2B brand awareness.
However, B2B marketers consistently get long-term benefits from reaching and connecting with their customers in a way that makes their brands memorable at the time of purchase.
Brand awareness, or the worth of a brand’s customer perception, grows over time. Brand equity drives both short-term activation (performance marketing) and long-term growth.
Table of Contents
- Why are Brand Awareness and Brand Equity important?
- What are the benefits of brand awareness?
- How Do You Build Brand Awareness?
- Marketing strategies, tactics and tools to build brand awareness
- How to measure brand awareness for B2B businesses
- Example of B2B Brand Awareness Campaigns
Why are Brand Awareness and Brand Equity important?
Over the last two decades, there has been greater recognition of the intangible assets that drive corporate financial value.
These assets can be sold and are usually worth significantly more than a company’s actual assets.
The brand’s distinctive iconography, as well as its mental and physical availability, are assets that can be sold.
They represent brand equity.
They are assets because they cost money to construct, and other companies may choose to buy them rather than invest the money, effort, and risk in building their own.
They’re valued since they guarantee a profit in the future.
If you have a strong brand, your prospects will think about you every time they enter buying moments, then sales next year and beyond are going to be secured.
Ehrenberg-Bass Institute calls this Mental Availability. Having high mental availability means being thought of more often when a prospect enters buying situations.
Wouldn’t you want to be the first brand people think about when they need your category of product/service? That’s money in the bag. That’s what brand awareness gets you.
What are the benefits of brand awareness?
We studied the common characteristics of strong B2B brands like Salesforce, Adobe, GE, and more. They showed the following benefits of having strong brand awareness.
- Stronger brands can offer a wider range of products and services, as well as pivot when necessary.
- Stronger brands have a competitive advantage over their competitors in their market, ensuring long-term revenue and market dominance.
- Customers are more loyal to stronger brands, even if the purchase is difficult or the pricing isn’t the best.
- Stronger brands have longer mental availability, which helps them get through lengthy B2B sales cycles.
- Powerful brands have less pricing sensitivity, and they can boost profitability over time.
- Robust brands attract more talented employees and prospects to join them.
While brand awareness frequently produces short-term results (sales), it is even more effective as a long-term growth strategy.
Brand awareness tactics frequently produce both short and long-term profits because they create mental availability with the 95 percent of buyers who are out-of-market (future) buyers.
When they need to make a purchase, such out-of-market purchasers progressively come “in-market.” If you’ve built up enough mental availability by then, they’ll be more likely to consider—or even pre-select—your brand.
Furthermore, because powerful brands may frequently demand higher prices for their products, your company’s profitability and margins will grow.
How Do You Build Brand Awareness?
There are three ways to increase brand awareness:
- Increase your share of voice
- Growing your customer base
- Increasing mental availability
- Use emotional messaging
How to increase the share of voice (SOV)
Share of voice (SOV) is the amount of ad spend delivered by your company divided by the total amount of ad spend in that category. Share of market (SOM) refers to your company’s total revenue compared to the total revenue in your entire market.
Businesses tend to grow when SOV is bigger than (SOM). Until you can quantify SOV and SOM, we propose that you boost your SOV by capturing more reach and impressions from your target audiences. To get started, we propose increasing your share of voice by acquiring more reach and frequency with your target audiences.
You may find your share of voice score from the platform representatives. LinkedIn reps will be able your share of voice.
Alternatively, you may calculate share of feed based on the number of brand mentions vs the total market mentions (Your brand mention plus your competitor mentions)
For the Share of market, you may add together your competitor’s revenue with yours to find the total market revenue.
Alternatively, you may use the total number of units or the total number of clients instead of the total revenue if that figure is not available.
Growing your customer base
According to LinkedIn’s B2B Institute study, reach drives customer acquisition and conversion. A strategy that addresses everyone in your buyer category is more effective than one that focuses on specific segments. Though loyalty and retention programs provide some profit, their share of overall revenue is lower when compared to the impact of reach.
This is due to the fact that reach both reaches out to prospects and reassures existing clients, creating and sustaining favorable feelings over time. Loyalty is mainly a predictable function of market share. It is impossible to grow sustainably by focusing solely on loyalty.
Buyers and purchasing committees are ever-changing and unpredictable. To maximize the effectiveness of your brand initiatives, keep up to date on the composition of existing and prospective buying committees. Targeting those who have influence over the purchasing committee will help your brand’s efforts even more.
Increasing Mental Availability
The possibility that a buyer will think of your brand when making a purchase is referred to as mental availability. If your brand inspires favorable sentiment and is memorable after repeated brand exposure, it is more likely to be remembered.
Share of Mind enhances the business’ Share of Voice by forging links between the brand, the purchasing occasion, and a suitable set of emotions and feelings.
Here are the key recommendations to improve mental availability:
- Maximising Reach
- Use clear and distinct copy/creatives
- Increase frequency (brand exposure)
- Use videos as it gets more engagement
- Expand audiences to both current and future buyers. Don’t hyper-target
- Driving engagement with both paid and organic activity.
Use Emotional Messaging
Emotional messaging must be used by B2B brands to create their brands for long-term growth.
Emotional messaging is critical for capturing the 95% of customers who are out of the market for when they are in the market. People are rational by nature, yet they can be emotional when making decisions, as we discovered with the availability heuristic.
People will pay attention and remember your brand as long as the advertising is entertaining and targeted.
Customers should be primed with repeated, memorable exposure to your brand before they come to market (in a purchase scenario).
As those purchasers enter the market, more logical messaging can support you in maximizing on this latent brand strength to achieve short-term results.
Marketing strategies, tactics and tools to build brand awareness
Let’s get started with the techniques and approaches you may use to build your brand over time. We’ll cover both organic and paid strategies to help you achieve your brand awareness goals.
While the examples below are based on LinkedIn, the concept can be applied to any channel and platform.
We do recommend starting with LinkedIn if your target audiences are B2B.
LinkedIn audiences are distinct since their users visit the site with a specific goal in mind.
They devote time to becoming more productive and successful, as well as to learning and growing.
As a result, as compared to other platforms, they are more interested in learning about brands on LinkedIn. And, with over 850+ million active users and 55 million registered firms, your marketing campaigns can reach a large B2B audience.
LinkedIn is an excellent resource for rapidly reaching out to everyone in a B2B category—and even B2B buyer groups.
The diagram below shows how you could run your organic/digital campaigns to raise awareness.
[Insert Awareness marketing screenshot]
Update: Do note that LinkedIn stories are no longer available. But there are new formats like document ads and Linkedin events that are more relevant
A balance of organic and paid is needed.
In the brand awareness and video views phases, aim for broad outreach. Reach the entire buyer committee or total addressable market.
In the engagement and website visit phases, the targeting should aim more toward in-market audiences. These include retargeting by engagements and website visits.
How to measure brand awareness for B2B businesses
There are a number of marketing metrics that you could look into to find out if your awareness campaigns are moving the needle.
- % growth of impressions and reach of target audience/accounts
- % growth of website visitors through branded search terms
- Number of website visitors from Ideal customer profile
- Engagement rate (Like, Comments, Shares, Social mentions)
- Brand sentiment
- Share of voice
- View of content from the ideal customer profile (Measure content consumption)
- Followers or subscriber growth
- Mentions from Analyst and influencers
- Number of speaking gigs at large scale events conducted
- Brand lift (Free on LinkedIn)
These have to be measured over a long period of time (Preferably more than a year at least). It has a compounding snowball effect. The more followers you get, the more audiences want to follow you. Everyone likes to follow the crowd. It’s a scientifically proven behavior called Herd mentality.
If you only have limited resources, I’d suggest using LinkedIn’s reach optimization and brand lift tools to help.
With LinkedIn’s Reach Optimization tool, expanding your customer base on LinkedIn has never been easier.
Reach Optimization is available as a campaign objective under Brand Awareness, and it optimizes for the number of unique users who see your advertisements. By boosting your brand’s exposure to prospects and customers, Reach will help optimize brand strength and hence long-term activation.
The Forecasting Tool in Campaign Manager makes it simple to see anticipated reach and frequency for your Reach Optimization campaigns too.
You may also select Engagement metrics as a column view in Campaign Manager’s reporting dashboard or when exporting a report to get specifics about how different social actions contributed to the campaign’s performance. This is just for Sponsored Content advertisements. View average CTR, reactions, comments, followers, and other metrics.
Viral stats are also available if you export a Campaign performance or Ad performance report. Viral metrics are generated when individuals share a Sponsored Content ad with their own network of contacts. View viral clicks, reactions, shares, and more.
Example of B2B Brand Awareness Campaigns
B2B brand awareness campaign example 1: Cenareo
Cenareo offers a digital signage technology that can communicate in real time with a limitless number of screens.
With many shops closed during the pandemic, Cenareo modified their strategy to supporting Corporate Communications and Human Resources departments in using their solutions to keep their staff safe and informed. With this change, Cenareo needed to raise brand recognition among a new audience, educate and nurture them, and eventually create leads.
Cenareo uses LinkedIn audience insights to deliver a tailored experience for each of their prospective customers. Based on these data, they continued to adjust their ad creative and brand-building content, such as case studies, solution guides, and product demos. They then employed LinkedIn video advertisements to continue engaging their target demographic and increasing brand awareness.
Results: They generated 500 leads and drove a total pipeline of estimated 180k EUR in just 1 month.
B2B brand awareness campaign example 2: Lenovo
Lenovo is a $34 billion personal technology firm that employs over 35,000 people and serves clients in over 160 countries. They serve the majority of the world’s countries, and were recently crowned the world’s number one PC company and is a rising PC+ leader with its smartphone and tablet advancements.
LinkedIn Sponsored Content was used for two months to further engage their audience across four key themes: brand, thought leadership, products, and external trends. Lenovo was able to adapt the content to increase engagement based on each specific target group and their accompanying answers.
They achieved a lift in brand favourability by 17%.
B2B brand awareness campaign example 3: SMEC
SMEC is a global engineering, management, and development firm that provides customers, partners, and communities with technical excellence and long-term solutions.
SMEC wants to be known as a world-class, specialist infrastructure brand and an industry employer of choice.
The primary goal was to enhance brand awareness among their primary consumers, creating a solid basis for future tactics that would contribute to advanced stages of the buyer journey. The team developed unique goals for each of its target audiences. However, because SMEC has a tiny marketing team in Australia, it has limited resources and a restricted budget to execute a global campaign.
They used LinkedIn’s audience segments to scale outreach to a global audience. They used a series of rich content, from single images to videos, to establish themselves as a thought leader.
- The campaign received over 2 million impressions and reached over 756,000 LinkedIn members.
- The campaign achieved a high LinkedIn engagement rate of 5% compared to the industry benchmark of 1%.
- According to demographic data, LinkedIn members interacting with the content included only the profile SMEC was targeting–Managing Directors/Owners; the most common industries were engineering and project management.
Building brand awareness and brand equity future-proofs a business. Many B2B marketers are blocking their own way whenever they focus solely on lead generation. 95% of your audiences are not “in-market”. So positioning messages that are hard-selling won’t work.
Instead, effort should be put into creating strong mental availability. This ensures that whether the audience is in-market or out-market, they will think of your brand in buying situations.
Nice article. Can someone tell me if Lenovo created the whol branding campaign in-house? If not I would like to have the nam of the marketing agency who helped them (also with the measuring process).