One of the dangers of blindly accepting that “Every company is a media company” is the very real problem of the wealth of material brands create today. Some of it is pure gold, but most of it is garbage. Nevertheless, let’s not quibble over the frequency or the low quality of branded content today. Instead, let’s examine the topics, or “the what” that B2B brands choose to focus on and share.
McKinsey analysts queried more than 700 global executives across the six sectors, asking them to evaluate the brand strengths of their primary and secondary suppliers. Unfortunately, the analysts found a large disconnect between the messaging brands deliver and the information buyers want.
Themes such as social responsibility, sustainability, and global reach, which many B2B companies cast in a leading role for brand imaging, appeared to have a minimal influence on buyers’ perceptions of brand strength. The inverse was true, as well: two of the most important themes for customer perceptions of brand strength—effective supply chain management and specialist market knowledge—were among those least mentioned by B2B suppliers. Honest and open dialogue, which customers considered most important, was one of the three themes not emphasized at all by the 90 companies in our sample. In addition to these disconnects, our analysis showed a surprising similarity among the brand themes that leading B2B companies emphasized, suggesting a tendency to follow the herd rather than create strongly differentiated brand messages.
Honest and open dialogue, specialist market knowledge and effective supply chain management are the things that matter most to buyers of business-to-business products and services.
The need to focus on what buyers consider important is such a fundamental concept in marketing communications; yet, it’s one even seasoned pros can overlook to their detriment.
If we turn this lens on the client-agency relationship, I think we can apply the learnings above and also consider what Doug Weaver, founder and CEO of Upstream Group, has to say on the matter.
Get right to the point and share valuable insights that earn the client’s attention and respect. And don’t assume there will be a second meeting.
Weaver adds the clients are not looking for another friend. Instead, they are looking for someone to bring them assets, insight, knowledge or escape routes that they really need.
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