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Stein IAS B2B World Fest B2B Marketing

Why B2B marketers are focusing on brand to drive demand

By Ian Darby, journalist

January 12, 2023 | 7 min read

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The ‘Funnel Vision’ session at B2B World Fest explored the ongoing ‘brand-to-demand’ conversation in B2B, how it’s evolving, and the extent to which marketers are emphasizing brand to drive demand.

Mike Marcellin, CMO, Juniper Networks, Lynn Teo, CMO, Northwestern Mutual and Marc Keating, CIO, Stein IAS sat down with Lynn Lester, MD of events at The Drum

Guests from Juniper Networks, Northwestern Mutual and Stein IAS sat down with The Drum presenter Lynn Lester.

As part of the third annual B2B World Fest, held by The Drum in partnership with B2B agency Stein IAS, Mike Marcellin, chief marketing officer at Juniper Networks, Lynn Teo, chief marketing officer at Northwestern Mutual and Marc Keating, Stein IAS’ chief innovation officer, sat down with Lynn Lester, managing director of events at The Drum, to investigate the state of brand-to-demand marketing.

Reframing brand in B2B as future demand

Teo was clear about the necessary shift towards brand investment in B2B marketing, and how this is helping her business take a new message to the market. She explained: “A lot of folks have known Northwestern Mutual as a 165-year-old life insurance company. What people don’t know is that we are a pre-eminent, holistic financial services company. That perception needs to be changed in the industry. Therein lies the role of brand.”

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Northwestern Mutual’s brand campaign featured a 2-minute+ spot using the endline “spend your life living.” The campaign has achieved its goal: a re-evaluation and better understanding of the business by intermediaries (the B2B audiences) and end-consumers (the B2C audience). This in turn is driving demand that flows back through Northwestern Mutual’s intermediaries.

Teo explained that the brand activity addresses the “reawakening and a reprioritization of personal risk, personal values and personal priorities” that have come out of events of the past two-and-a-half years. “It also underscores our mission as a company to reduce financial anxiety. I think the key in this campaign is to let people know that we can help through our offerings and expertise, but now is the time to take action.”

Using brand awareness in B2B to challenge assumptions

Juniper Network’s Marcellin discussed its own campaign, which encouraged customers to “demand more from your network.” He pointed to the work as a highly successful example of using brand-level to build awareness beyond a core set of customers, to challenege the status quo and to reach a wider pool of decision makers in order to accelerate demand.

The campaign uses the creative approach that IT teams don’t have to “bend over backwards” to assure network performance. Marcellin explained how the commercials have helped Juniper address an important challenge in building awareness among new audiences and to challenge their assumptions: “Buyers don’t necessarily think they should consider an alternative to the incumbent. They’ve just grown used to the challenges that they have endure every day, bending over backwards to get anything done. We provide a powerful alternative to that.”

Practical steps to connect brand with demand

Giving the agency’s view on where B2B marketers face the biggest challenges in connecting brand with demand, Stein IAS’ Keating explained that often the main issue is disparate teams – brand, demand, and sales – within the organization and the need to bring them together. He added this links to a further challenge: creating engaging emotional experiences with sustained brand activity that cultivates demand and then interlocks with demand-gen tactics to harvest demand.

Keating added that he’s seeing a greater proportion of marketers invest in this longer-term approach. “While it used to be that 60-80% of Stein IAS’ client budgets were focused on demand-based marketing, now it’s more balanced. And when it’s more balanced in terms of where you’re investing in your content media, then brand and demand have got to be connected and joined-up to achieve the best return on investment.”

In terms of key takeaways for successfully linking brand to demand in B2B marketing, Marcellin advised greater investment in brand campaigns to drive demand performance. Pointing to Juniper Network’s campagn, which was named Best B2B Brand Campaign in the recent Drum B2B Awards, Marceling stated, “The demand generation conversion rates in those markets [where the brand campaign ran] well outperformed the demand conversion rates in markets where we didn’t have brand investment.”

Keating added his view that effective brand activity can help at the lower funnel stage, not only by driving demand but also facilitating the collection of data from new audiences: “More and better engagement with the brand will generate better quality leads, that will drive better quality conversion.”

But how can CMOs secure the necessary budgets to support both brand and demand at scale? According to Marcellin, collaboration within the business is an important factor: “I'm fortunate enough to have those budgets both within my remit. But I know, in some organizations, they’re separated... so, if you can get it together, or at least plan for it together, even if you have a colleague who’s responsible for one part or the other, that’s really important.”

Teo concluded with a powerful piece of advice for marketers on how success can be achieved: “In a systemic fashion, see how all the pieces of your marketing investments connect, and always lean on your return-on-investment as the CMO.”

Tune in to view the full session from B2B WorldFest here.

Stein IAS B2B World Fest B2B Marketing

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