Thinking B2B: The importance of visual platforms in B2B marketing
by Warren Moss (@warrenmoss) Investing in campaigns to increase visibility for B2B companies may be hugely beneficial for increasing brand equity. In particular, I believe that B2B brands in South Africa are missing a trick by not producing campaigns to do this.
Invisible to end-consumers
It’s a fact that B2B brands are largely invisible to the end-consumers who use them. For example, one of the biggest B2B businesses in the world is General Electric (GE), which sells technology and machinery for other companies to use in their own businesses, such as the engines in an airplane. But the people boarding that plane to London Heathrow will never know that a GE engine is flying them there – the brand is invisible to them.
It’s the same scenario with a company like Intel. It may power a Dell computer with its central processing unit (CPU), yet as a consumer you would buy that machine because it’s a Dell, rather than it uses an Intel processor. This presents really interesting opportunities to create visibility for B2B services. Intel did this in a big way with its “Intel Inside” campaign, using TV, print, radio and outdoor to create visibility for the brand on the products that used its technology.
One really strong way to do this is to use social media platforms that are extremely visual, such as Instagram, Youtube or Facebook. GE is currently doing this in a very impactful way: a quick look at its Instagram feed shows you beautiful photography, strong storytelling, and evidence that it’s created visibility for its brand with a clear, impactful message.
Expertise lies in its people
What message? GE produces things that go into other things. But it’s identified that its expertise really lies in the people who produce these things. So, when making its brand more visible, it’s made superheroes out of the people who work at GE, for example, posting a picture of its chief engineer and detailing her incredible story underneath it.
In a South African context, we have really strong B2B businesses in this country but they simply don’t spend a lot of time creating awareness and visibility. But the buyer and the influencer who end up buying these B2B products have their own lives too — after all, they’re also consumers — so why not invest in getting visibility in this space?
When coming up with campaign ideas to create this visibility, companies need to narrow down what it is it about their B2B brand that’s extremely special. Is it the product? The people? The solutions? Or the impact the products have on the environment?
Many ways to create visibility
I’m not simply talking about the digital space here: there are many ways to create this visibility. One idea is to do something experiential, like Robertsons did in Melrose Arch recently, where it organised a popup restaurant. There were fancy chefs using Robertson spices and cooking up delicious dishes and it was a very visual marketing display.
It got me thinking: what’s the B2B equivalent of that? Here’s an example of what I mean:
- When you want to hire a logistics business, such as Value Logistics for example, you may not know that all its trucks are Toyota commercial vehicles. Why couldn’t Toyota launch a campaign in industrial areas where fleet businesses are? After all, the ultimate decision-makers probably can choose between Mercedes or Toyota when choosing their commercial vehicles so, if you made the brand more visible, this could reap big benefits.
Seize the bull by the horns
The days of B2B products and services flying under the radar are over: it’s time to seize the bull by the horns, use what’s available to you and craft clever campaigns that reach your audience — particularly those people who may not know that they’re using your product to begin with.
Warren Moss (@) is the CEO and founder of Demographica, a multi-award winning full service agency that specialises in the B2B category. He is the chair of both the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA) and the Assegai Integrated Marketing Awards (Assegais), as well as the only African to judge the B2 Awards, which recognise the top performing B2B marketers in the world. Warren contributes the monthly “Thinking B2B” column, which looks at the latest trends in B2B communications and explains why it is fundamentally different from B2C comms.