I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the friction between brand building vs. revenue activation in B2B companies. This comes after devouring the report 2030 B2B Trends: Contrarian Ideas For The Next Decade from Peter Weinberg and Jon Lombardo.
The two make a compelling case that many organizations are missing a trick in where they assign their budgets, prioritizing short-term revenue gains and sacrificing the brand building that is critical to long-term survivability.
And they’re right. The benefits of investing in name recognition are obvious – pricing power, category optionality, talent acquisition and, of course, commercial success.
For me, Instagram is a fantastic place to start looking for examples of B2B brands who are prioritizing their longevity over short-term sales. Familiar names like Microsoft, Oracle, ZenDesk, Slack, Invision, Dribble and many more leverage the platform to tell the ‘real stories’ lurking beneath the surface of their organization. It may not generate sales, but it creates the pathways in a buyers mind that this is a company worth remembering.
(PS. if you’re interested in learning how to use Instagram to promote people and culture within your business, check out this episode of B2B Better I recorded with Nicole Tabak.)
One of the most important skills for B2B marketers to master over the next ten years, will be to present a compelling, financially-sound argument on why an investment in brand is critical for the long-term success of an organization.
This is no easy task. It is much simpler for CEOs/CFOs to understand “$X equals Y leads” and believe that simply ratcheting up the investment in activation will equate to a relative increase in results.
But this short-term thinking will only produce short-term results. And, as Weinberg and Lombardo accurately point out, “businesses are valued not on current cash flows but on future cash flows.”
With your leadership, identify the proof points and corresponding marketing tactics that will help you determine the health of your brand in 2, 5 and 10 years. Then put in place the processes to start tracking these today.
Things like year-on-year increase in pipeline, talent acquisition cost, positioning/perception survey scores and pricing power are all good places to start.