Your B2B organization is primarily focused on finding customers and generating green. Understandable. But if you lack B2B brand awareness, demand for your services is not reaching its potential.
So which marketing strategy should a B2B company invest in when looking to grow? Brand awareness or lead generation?
B2B Brand Awareness Vs. Lead Generation
Surprise! The answer is both.
While brand awareness and lead generation are technically different things, they impact each other directly.
Some companies are great about promoting their brand, but their websites fail to convert leads. One of the most common pitfalls is lack of landing pages - conversion opportunities that aren’t RFQs or contact forms.
Other businesses fall victim to the opposite problem: They possess an intuitive website and valuable knowledge, but they neglect building brand awareness. It’s hard to sell to people if they don’t know you exist in the first place.
You can’t have one without the other and expect success.
Hand in Hand
It’s time be honest with yourself -- lead generation is rarely a straight path. This is not B2C marketing.
Few customers head straight to a page of yours, consume the content, click your call-to-action, and throw money at you in a quick, neat fashion. In B2B marketing, one piece of content or one social post isn’t going to equal one sale. That’s why raising B2B brand awareness is crucial, even if it doesn’t immediately or directly result in sales.
(If you’re looking to implement a brand awareness strategy, start here.)
Most B2B companies are not household names -- it’s the nature of the business, dumb pun intended. So it’s especially important to define who you want to be more aware of your B2B brand. That goes hand in hand with generating the right leads. Without this step, you will waste a lot of time and money trumpeting yourself to the wrong people.
Those who are already viewing and “liking’ your content are more likely to become buyers than some random straggler who found your website by accident. Leads are great, but great leads are even better.
Two Birds, One Stone
Modern buyers research their problems or opportunities online first. That's where you have the most potential for building your B2B brand awareness, which in turn brings leads. So start putting resources into effective lead generation strategies -- like content marketing.
Perhaps even more than B2C companies, B2Bs need to create content -- blogs, videos, etc. -- that provide answers to specific questions of those working niche markets. If you can build your brand in a market that’s largely wild frontier online (manufacturing is a big one for us), you can dominate with your brand presence.
To increase lead-generating opportunities, you need to expand the top of your marketing funnel with multiple brand-awareness efforts. Sometimes it’s only after multiple visits to your site that a lead becomes a potential customer, so the more ways you can pull them in, the better.
Your other task is to promote your brand’s content in social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Chase those visits, shares, and retweets. The more people become aware of your expertise, the more likely they’ll turn to you come purchase time.
If you follow these steps, your website is more likely to rank well in search engines for keywords your potential leads are using. With those awareness-raising blogs and social posts acting as lead magnets, you can begin to collect information such as email addresses -- and suddenly you have leads.
One of the best parts of this content marketing approach to brand awareness and lead finding? The effect compounds over time.
Invest in Both -- Now
Brand building doesn’t require a huge budget, so don’t freak out about the idea of pouring resources into both brand awareness AND lead generation.
Using internal staff or hiring an agency to optimize SEO or set up PPC campaigns can get your name out there and collect leads at the same time.
The same goes for writing content. A skilled marketer already in your building may be up to the task, or you can outsource the work to a professional. Because content strategies rely heavily on repurposing and republishing, a little investment can go a long way.
You can also employ someone to crunch your brand awareness metrics on a daily basis. That includes social shares, website traffic, and about a million other tactics that work behind the scenes to influence your reach.
The last thing you need to know about both B2B brand awareness and lead generation is this: they take time. Monitoring your company’s reach and building a library of content will not produce immediate results. Instead, they build your online clout over time to create a steady increase in traffic, leads, and customers..
So stick with them and you’ll reap the benefits of both brand awareness AND lead generation.
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published in July 2017 and was recently updated.)