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Building Your B2B Brand

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A recent Buzz Marketing for Technology blog post by Paul Dunay asks a simple question: Is Social Media More Difficult in B2B than B2C? I've been trying to come to terms with this concept in posts I've authored recently, and am struck by the points Dunay raises about building B2B brand identity, brand loyalty, and B2B social media usage.

Dunay explains that when you hear "Ralph Lauren," or "The Gap," you can easily envision the people who wear those brands - and from there, you can create a marketing platform that might appeal to the people who wear those brands, and engage those brand loyalists as such. When you mention big IT companies however, it's harder to associate any one group of people with the brands that dominate among those companies. There is no typical Microsoft user; there is no easily identifiable group of IBM devotees or Dell disciples that you can visualize and grasp onto for marketing purposes.

Building a B2C brand, and subsequent loyalty among B2C consumers, is generally considered to be easier than building a B2B brand. Because of the passion people tend to feel for consumer purchases (consider the buzz generated when the iPhone was released), taking the next step and getting people to actually identify with their favorite consumer products (and therefore, their favorite brands) is that much easier. After all, how many people do you know who are willing to in line to purchase new virtuzlization technology or disk-to-disk backup systems for their businesses?

The market segment you need to reach when marketing B2B technology is vast, unstructured and not easily pigeon-holed. We can identify the titles of key decision makers in the B2B buying process, but we can't as easily pinpoint what brands they wear, where they buy their coffee, or what kinds of cars they like to drive. In lacking this ability, it becomes more difficult to build identifiable brand loyalty, and create meaningful social media outlets where influential B2B decision makers will feel comfortable hanging out and engaging and interacting with other B2B buyers and their content.

And while B2B marketers do have the good fortune of dealing with a relatively well-established group of B2B buyers and decision makers, B2B buying doesn't tend to excite passion the way that clothing, car or coffee brands tend to. Creating brand loyalty is an excellent way to promote unity, passion and excitement around any product - and when you're able to do these things, it becomes easier to incite your users to interact and engage with whatever media you present to them.

So what matters in B2B branding? How do you implore users to identify with your corporation, your products, philosophies and your brand - especially if you want to use that branding to instill a sense of loyalty and passion and ignite user-interaction via social media tools? Let me know your thoughts on the matter - the verdict is, after all, still out on the best way to reach this influential, tech-savvy group of decision makers who make the IT marketing world go-round.

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