Are you looking to raise brand awareness for your B2B business? If so, you’re not alone.
The CMI’s 2023 B2B Content Marketing Report found that 83% of marketers create content specifically aimed at increasing brand awareness. SEMrush’s 2023 State of Content Marketing report revealed that 45% of businesses consider growing their brand awareness as part of their primary goals for 2023.
So, if you’re putting together a plan to raise brand awareness, but you’re not sure where to start (or you’re simply looking for some ideas and inspiration) – we can help. Here, we will guide you through the essential steps for raising brand awareness for your B2B business.
Introduction: How does brand awareness impact sales?
We can’t emphasise enough the link between brand awareness and a business’ bottom line. Brand awareness leads to trust, which can often be what clinches a sale.
People will tend to go with what they know – if you’re a reputable enough brand and your company is top-of-mind, then you’re more likely to get a sale. Brand awareness makes your business stand out among its competitors. For example, when customers view two similar brands side by side, the one with higher visibility or even just a more recognisable logo will often take precedence over the lesser-known one.
But it’s not as simple as visibility or recognisability – just because you recognise a Reliant Robin doesn’t mean that you want to buy one. Sometimes your brand, or the perception of your brand, is the only real differentiator between yourself and your competition.
Although it is important to have your brand seen, what’s even more crucial is the story you tell about it. Who are you? And why are your products and services better than your competitors’?
Brand awareness isn’t just about getting customers to purchase your product or service – it also affects customer retention and satisfaction levels. When people feel connected with a company and its employees through its branding efforts, they’re more likely to remain loyal and provide positive reviews, further reinforcing the message behind your brand and increasing future sales opportunities.
Discover more by reading our blog on the different stages of communication funnels.
Seven steps for raising B2B brand awareness
We’ve put together several steps for how to raise B2B brand awareness for your business:
- Step one: Define your target audience
- Step two: Develop a strong and consistent brand identity
- Step three: Create compelling content
- Step four: Optimise your website for UX and SEO
- Step five: Distribute your content through marketing and PR
- Step six: Get networking
- Step seven: Measure your results
Step one: Define your target audience
When it comes to raising brand awareness, defining your target audience is vital. Who are you hoping to reach with your message? Is it the millennial generation? Gen Z? Is it a certain geographic area? A niche industry?
Your target audience is important for two reasons. Firstly, knowing who you’re talking to will ensure that your message is tailored in a way that resonates with their needs and their values. Secondly, it will help you choose the right channels for implementing your brand awareness strategy. As much as you’d like to publicise your brand EVERYWHERE, that’s unrealistic.
As well as defining your target audience, you must understand their buying needs and habits to showcase your business in the right places.
Discover more with our target audience checklist.
Step two: Develop a strong and consistent brand identity
When creating a distinct brand identity, it’s important to remain consistent across all channels – such as social media, print materials, email marketing, and website visuals – so customers recognise your business wherever they come across it.
As we said earlier, brand recognition can help increase sales and respondents to the State Of Brand Consistency survey estimated that a consistent brand identity increased revenue by between 10-20%.
To develop a strong brand, you must identify the qualities that make you unique. What aspects of your product or services set you apart? What visual factors such as colours, images, and slogans represent your brand best? Research from Accenture found that a brand’s values are just as important, so it’s equally key to define your company’s vision, mission and values to make sure that your identity appeals to your target audience.
Discover more with our brand health check.
Step three: Create compelling content
Content can have many forms, such as blogs, white papers, infographics, images, videos etc.. But to create compelling content, you must understand your target audience’s pain points and how your product or service can help them solve these problems.
To be successful, your content must speak to their needs, and not simply promote your wares. To do this you should make your content genuinely useful, interesting or delightful (an example of delightful might be something that’s funny).
This needn’t be as difficult as it sounds. You’ll already employ a host of experts who know interesting and useful things about your products and services. If you look at your team as thought leaders and leverage them to create compelling content, you’ll soon have a wealth of material to help kickstart your brand awareness campaign.
Discover more by reading how to become a thought leader in your industry.
Step four: Optimise your website for UX and SEO
A website is the foundation of your company’s online presence and is often the first point of contact for potential customers. Therefore, ensuring the website is visually appealing, informative, and easy to navigate is essential.
Your website should take user-experience (UX) into consideration. A positive UX creates a great experience of your brand, but more importantly it will increase the chances of site visitors converting by making a purchase or getting in touch.
You should also invest in search marketing, such as SEO and Google Ads to ensure that you’re easily discoverable and constantly driving traffic to your website. SEO involves optimising the website for search engines to appear higher in search results when users type in keywords related to your products or services. Google Ads is an advertising platform that allows you to bid on keywords so that your ads appear at the top of the search rankings straight away.
A good portion of search traffic will be warm leads as they will have reached your website because they are actively looking for your products or services. After all, if you’re looking for information on something, where do you go? Most people start by Googling.
Step five: Distribute your content through marketing and PR
The CMI recently released statistics on how B2B businesses distributed their content:
- Social media platforms (95%)
- Speaking/presenting at events (64%)
- Media/public relations (56%)
- Guest posts/articles in third-party publications (50%)
- Influencer partnerships (20%)
- Listening platforms – e.g., podcasting on Spotify, etc (10%)
- SMS/text messages (6%)
- None of the above (14%).
Below, we’ll explore each of these channels in turn with guidance on how to use them to raise B2B brand awareness.
Social media platforms
Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter are invaluable tools for B2B businesses looking to raise brand awareness. They allow you to easily share company updates, photography and blog posts as well as more ambitious content like infographics and videos.
Of course, many B2B businesses struggle with social media. They see low engagement on their organic posts and become disheartened. The truth is that organic social media is becoming harder for companies as the platforms focus on amplifying content posted by individuals. If businesses want to see success, they often have to “pay to play” and invest in advertising.
Don’t fight this – instead, set realistic expectations about what you can achieve with your company pages and don’t waste time and resources chasing likes. Instead, seek to nurture relationships on social media at a human level by posting from personal accounts and building your team’s personal brands as ambassadors for your business. Companies with active employees do much better on social media because they’re using the platforms…socially! If your experts start interacting and engaging on social media you’ll naturally increase your visibility. By driving discussions, you’ll be seen as thought leaders and start to build trust around your brand.
If you are keen on showcasing your products and services through your company page, consider using paid advertising instead. This has benefits over organic social media because you can instantly reach your target audience (it can take a long time to build an audience organically) – especially on LinkedIn, where you can target people by job title, industry, seniority or even by company name!
Discover more: How your B2B technology business should be using social media
Speaking/presenting at events
Speaking at events is a smart (and often fun) way for businesses to quickly establish themselves as a trusted thought leader. But it’s not enough to simply show up and deliver a presentation. To make the most of the opportunity, you need to approach speaking engagements strategically.
First and foremost, you should tailor your talk to the audience’s interests and needs. This means doing research beforehand to understand who will be attending, what challenges they face, and how the speaker’s expertise can help them overcome those challenges.
Secondly, B2B speakers should focus on providing valuable insights rather than promoting their product or service directly. Remember, the goal isn’t just to be seen – it’s to build trust through demonstrating your knowledge and expertise. Speakers are representing their brands so the more credible you appear, the easier sales will be in the future.
Finally, you can take advantage of networking opportunities before and after your talk. Hopefully you’ll be inundated with business cards and LinkedIn requests after your awesome presentation, but also make sure that you’re connecting with attendees and building relationships that could lead to future business opportunities.
Public relations (PR) and brand awareness are intrinsically linked, and can also be one of the most cost-effective ways to promote a brand at scale.
A good PR strategy will help a business to raise brand awareness, build authority and grow customers. It’s always recommended that you work with experienced communications professionals as they will help you to build and leverage media relationships, ensure that you are crafting persuasive messages – and they’re also there to make sure that your brand is protected from any negative coverage!
There are many forms that a PR campaign can take, but you’re essentially trying to reach a wide audience through securing media coverage. PR activities might include sending out press releases, giving interviews, running market surveys, creating thought leadership pieces, hosting events and even social media campaigns.
PR is a powerful tool in any business’ arsenal and is often the foundation of serious growth for any brand.
Guest posts/articles in third-party publications
Having your work featured in publications should be a key part of your PR strategy, helping you to demonstrate your expertise while reaching new audiences. Publications might include national print and online media, trade or specialist magazines, or blogs.
To secure quality placements for your work, you’ll likely need to partner with a trusted PR agency with strong journalist and influencer connections. They’ll be able to strategically guide you on the best way to reach your target audience, and how you should craft messages that will resonate and deliver upon your goals.
Again, don’t be too salesy when writing articles. Focus on providing valuable insights or actionable advice rather than promoting your product or service directly. By doing so, your words will build credibility with readers and position yourself as an expert in their field.
Working with influencers is still a potentially new (and scary) territory for many B2B businesses.
It’s important to remember that an influencer doesn’t have to be a Gen Z tiktoker (if you’re a B2B business that’s had any success here – we’d love to hear about it!).
When we say “influencer” we generally mean industry experts, bloggers, thought leaders, or social media personalities who have a large following within the business community (more often than not, this will either be on LinkedIn, YouTube or Twitter for B2B marketing).
A good way to find genuinely useful influencers would be to do some desk research, putting yourself in your target audience’s shoes and using the search functions on LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube to find which experts are offering advice to help solve people’s pain points.
You’ll very likely find influential thought leaders with high engagement in your search. Once potential influencers have been identified, you should reach out to them with a clear proposal that outlines the benefits of a partnership and how it can be mutually beneficial.
A partnership also doesn’t have to be a paid endorsement, although this may have benefits, it could be as simple as inviting them to review your product or service, guest-blog on your website, speak at your event, or feature on your podcast.
Listening platforms – e.g., podcasting on Spotify, etc
Podcasting can be a lot of fun and, unless you work in an eerily quiet office, almost every business has got something they can say. Again, trust your employee’s expertise and amplify it! Because of podcasting’s informal nature, they’re a great way of humanising your brand which is the best possible way to building trust and authority.
To get your podcast going, brainstorm topics that are relevant to your industry and target audience. This could include discussing breaking news, industry trends, sharing insights or providing advice on common business challenges.
The great thing about podcasts is that they’re incredibly versatile – you can either just have one person lead with solo commentary, have two experts casually chat about the issues, or you can bring in industry thought leaders for interviews. Just think about what you and your ideal client might enjoy listening to and you can’t go too wrong.
Podcasts can be repurposed as clips for social media, video for YouTube, discussions can be typed up for blogs, and they can also be distributed on platforms like Spotify or Amazon music. They’re a great foundation for awesome content that can really bring your marketing alive.
You also don’t need fancy equipment straight away – many podcasts have been recorded on smartphones!
We’re not surprised that only 6% of businesses use text messages to amplify their content. It’s quite a pushy way of marketing (they are called push notifications after all!).
We’d recommend only using text messages to contact those who are already very engaged with your products and services. If there’s a realistic chance that someone might be excited to read about an announcement via text (such as an exclusive product launch event with limited tickets), then maybe take this approach to build hype.
But use common sense. Would you want to be texted by every brand that you came across? If you’re not careful you could bug your audience and damage how people view your brand. If you’re not sure, avoid!
Step six: Get networking
As well as speaking at events you can get your team out there by attending business meet ups, conferences, trade shows and other events. There’s nothing quite like face-to-face conversations, as it’s much easier to build rapport and trust.
As well as attending, if relevant, you should also consider exhibiting to showcase your products and services. While some of these events can be expensive, the return on investment can really justify the spend.
According to Display Wizard’s Exhibitor Report, 70% of businesses generated new leads from Trade Shows in 2022. This is because networking opportunities abound, allowing for increased visibility among industry professionals and potential business partners, along with plenty of promotional materials that can entice people to recognise and remember your brand.
Step seven: Measure your results
There are a number of ways to measure the success of your PR campaigns, including monitoring media coverage.
Another common method is through surveys, where customers (or potential customers) are asked questions about their level of awareness for a particular brand. This could include asking if they’ve heard of the brand before, if they can recognise its logo, or if they would consider purchasing its products or services. Focus groups can also provide similar insight into the perception of your brand among the public.
Businesses can use social media analytics tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to holistically track the number of times their organic and promotional posts are seen, shared and engaged with, as well as how many times people have visited your site based off of your social activity.
One of the most tangible ways of measuring brand awareness is through monitoring search traffic and search share using tools like Google Analytics, SEMrush or Moz. By analysing keyword and website traffic, businesses can get an idea of how often their brand is being seen or searched for by potential customers. Of course, if a business is getting more visits to their website you’d hope that they’d also be getting more sales and leads – this will always be the ultimate measure of success!
Sometimes B2B marketing can be particularly challenging because unlike B2C marketing, where companies target individual consumers with personalised campaigns, B2B efforts needs a more strategic approach.
By targeting other businesses and decision-makers you’re up against an audience that’s often more focused on practicality and ROI than emotional appeals. In this context, creating effective B2B brand awareness needs to use careful, thoughtful tactics to not only reach your target audience – but to gain their trust at every stage. Building up recognition and trust together will always lead to higher profitability and long-term growth potential.
In terms of the content you create to build brand awareness, if you focus on leveraging your thought leaders and put some love and creativity into how you distribute your team’s expertise, you’ll be well on your way to connecting with your target audience with messages that resonate.
Are you looking to reach out to a new customer base, and grow your existing audience? Our team of journalists, media specialists and PR experts can help.
Get in touch – we love meeting new businesses and would be happy to connect for a chat!