B2B Marketing

5 Research-Based Tips for Effective B2B Marketing

If you’re a B2B marketer, you know how challenging it can be to grow your business and achieve your goals. You have to deal with complex buying cycles, multiple decision-makers, and fierce competition. You also have to balance your budget and resources between short-term and  long-term strategies.

To help make your life easier, we’ve compiled some of the best practices and insights from the leading experts in marketing effectiveness: Binet and Field, and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute. These researchers have analyzed hundreds of case studies and data sets to uncover the secrets of successful B2B marketing.

In this blog post, we’ll share with you five key principles based on their research that you can apply to your own B2B marketing strategy in 2023. These principles will help you optimize your advertising campaigns and drive sustainable growth and profitability for your business.

Let’s get started.

1. Build a strong brand

You might think that brand building is only for B2C marketers, but that’s not true. B2B marketers also need to invest in building a strong brand that stands out from the crowd and creates a positive impression in the minds of potential customers.

A strong brand can increase your awareness, preference, loyalty, and advocacy among B2B buyers. It can also help you charge higher prices and reduce your customer acquisition costs.

According to Binet and Field’s research, approximately half of your B2B media budget should be focused on brand-building (with the rest going towards sales activation tactics).

So how do you build a strong brand? You need to create distinctive brand assets and memorable advertising that appeals to both the rational and emotional needs of your customers. You need to use media channels with broad reach, such as digital, TV, radio, print, or online video, to reach a broad audience and build mental availability. And you need to invest consistently over time to build long-lasting memory structures that influence buying decisions.

2. Expand your customer base

The most important driver of growth for any business is expanding your customer base. This means reaching out to new prospects who are not yet aware of or interested in your brand or product.

B2B marketers need to generate broad reach and awareness among potential customers. Mass media channels can help you create salience, fame, differentiation, and memory structures for your brand or product.

Binet and Field’s research indicates that B2B companies will be more successful by prioritizing new customer acquisition vs. existing customer loyalty.

So how do you expand your customer base? You need to identify the relevant buying situations or category entry points for your brand or product. These are the moments when customers are ready to buy or consider buying in your category. You need to link your brand messages to these buying situations and make sure your brand is top of mind and easy to find when customers are in the market.

3. Maximize your mental availability

Mental availability is the likelihood that your brand or product comes to mind when a customer is ready to buy. It is influenced by factors such as salience, fame, differentiation, and memory structures.

B2B marketers need to maximize their mental availability by creating distinctive and memorable advertising that triggers associations with their brand or product. These associations can help customers recall your brand or product when they are in the market and choose it over other options.

According to Binet and Field’s research, B2B campaigns focused on mental availability factors like awareness and fame have more than twice the business impacts vs activation-focused campaigns.

So how do you maximize your mental availability? Again, think top of the funnel, and maximize the reach and frequency of your advertising. You need to use distinctive assets, such as logos, colors, slogans, or characters, to make your advertising recognizable and memorable. And you need to use emotional appeals, such as humor, storytelling, or social proof, to make your advertising engaging and relevant.

4. When to deploy rational vs. emotional advertising

Emotion is not just for B2C marketers. B2B buyers are also influenced by emotional factors, such as trust, confidence, pride, or fear. Emotion can affect how customers perceive your brand or product, how they feel about it, and how they act on it.

B2B marketers need to harness the power of emotion by creating advertising that appeals to both the rational and emotional needs of their customers. Rational appeals can provide information, facts, or benefits that can convince customers of your brand or product’s value. Emotional appeals can create feelings, associations, or stories that can connect customers with your brand or product’s personality.

Rational messaging can be more effective for activation campaigns, while emotional messaging remains more effective for brand campaigns.

So how do you harness the power of emotion? You need to understand your customers’ motivations, pain points, and aspirations. You need to use creative techniques, such as metaphors, symbols, or music, to convey your brand or product’s message. And you need to use media channels, such as TV, radio, print, or online video, to deliver your advertising with impact and emotion.

5. Budgeting for growth & the 95-5 Rule

The amount of money that you invest in advertising has a direct impact on your growth potential. B2B marketers need to budget for growth by allocating sufficient resources to brand-building and activation campaigns.

Brand-building campaigns create long-term demand by building awareness, preference, and loyalty among potential customers. Activation campaigns convert short-term demand by stimulating immediate action or purchase among ready-to-buy customers (think paid search and conversion ads).

According to Binet and Field’s research, the optimal budget split for B2B businesses is 46% for brand building and 54% for activation. However, new research from Ehrenberg-Bass Institute and the Linkedin B2B Institute found that this split should be much different for B2B marketers.

The 95-5 Rule is a new principle stating that 95% of your potential buyers are not ready to buy today, but will be in the future. These are the “out-market” buyers who pay your future cash flows. The other 5% are the “in-market” buyers who are ready to buy now. These are the ones who pay your current cash flows.

According to the LinkedIn B2B Institute and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, B2B marketers should prioritize reaching the 95% of out-market buyers with brand-building campaigns, rather than focusing on the 5% of in-market buyers with activation campaigns. This is because brand building creates long-lasting memory structures that influence buying decisions when buyers enter the market. Activation, on the other hand, only works on buyers who are already aware of and interested in your brand or product.

Therefore, B2B marketers should invest more heavily in brand building than activation, and use different media channels, creative approaches, and measurement methods for each type of campaign.

We hope you enjoyed this post and learned something new. If you want to learn more about how to apply these principles to your own B2B marketing strategy in 2023, please contact us at Brandon today. We would love to hear from you and help you grow your brand and business. 


Cary Murphy

Chief Strategy Officer

Cary Murphy is our Chief Strategy Officer at Brandon. He has been in marketing for over 30 years, starting his own agency from scratch and growing it into a market leader. He sold his agency to Brandon in 2016 and joined their leadership team, bringing his expertise to a wider audience. He’s also our category leader for B2B and CPG, working with clients such as Nucor Steel, Wastequip, Green Giant, Idahoan Foods, and Victory Beer. He helps clients create brand stories and strategies that increase sales, boost customer loyalty, and generate media coverage. He doesn’t settle for the status quo or conventional wisdom. He finds hidden connections and patterns and turns them into compelling narratives that resonate with customers. Cary is a smart and inspiring leader who challenges and supports his peers to do their best work. He believes that discipline is more important than motivation, and that good habits are more powerful than goals. Cary is a leader who combines talent, experience, and passion, with something else. A skill that he learned and honed over decades of practice and experimentation. A skill that helps him uncover the remarkable in both people and products.

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