It’s easy for many B2Bs to overlook certain marketing strategies, as the common wisdom is that such tactics are more effective in the consumer space. Take branding for example. Some of the most well-known and popular restaurants the world has ever known, from McDonalds to Starbucks, long ago developed their brand.
But what about the B2B food-and-beverage supply companies that provide the products that allow these restaurants to run smoothly on a day-to-day basis? Well, like any B2B, they often focus on sales initiatives to land big clients rather than marketing strategies like branding.
But times are changing, and as customers in both the B2B and B2C space spend a lot of their time online, it’s time for the food and beverage industry to consider just how they present their operation to the general public.
Below are some key reasons branding is as important in B2B as it is in B2C.
Branding ties together the B2B operator and B2C consumer, which benefits everyone
And there are few greater examples of this tactic than Heinz leveraging its brand equity in the consumer space. Heinz ketchup bottles are in many restaurants throughout the U.S., and we all recognize its distinctive bottle. By making their B2B products highly visible to consumers, Heinz has established a foothold in the consumer consciousness that only helps it generate more business from B2B customers. Ergo, the more the typical diner is loyal to Heinz, the more restaurants are going to stock its products.
But Heinz doesn’t rest on its laurels or coast on its reputation. The company is ever invested in modern branding. They utilize all tactics and channels at their disposal, and this was evident with their 2017 Rise Against Hunger campaign.
This involved customers snapping selfies with Heinz bottles, and in turn the company donated $1 each to causes geared towards ending global hunger. Not only did this strategy brand Heinz as altruistic (something today’s generation of millennials and pre-millennials appreciate), but it leveraged social media for greater visibility.
B2B food and beverage companies of all stripes would do well to take a page from Heinz and invest in that comprehensive level of branding.
Social media branding raises your company profile
The simple reason for this is that, these days, everyone is on social media. That includes restaurant operators and especially chefs. Take Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, for example. Chefs are social media savvy where it concerns these platforms, using them for a number of purposes. These include:
- Obtaining and sharing recipe ideas
- Spreading news about restaurant openings
- Promoting menu items
And much more. Due to its visual nature, Instagram is a particularly effective platform for these purposes, and there are constantly evolving lists of the best/most popular chefs to follow on IG. It makes sense for B2B companies, then, to meet these chefs and operators where they are. So the next step is to start thinking like a B2C and develop great social media content with your audience of chefs and operators in mind.
There are things these potential customers like to see from food/beverage brands on social media. Appealing content includes high-quality food pics, recipes/menu app info, and insights and interviews from other chefs.
And regarding that modern, millennial audience alluded to above, any content that promotes the sustainability practices and charitable endeavors of the food/beverage company in question is always going to perform well.
The final step after you have developed your great content is to get it in front of your target audience. Both IG and Facebook allow businesses to purchase target ads, but know that in Facebook’s case, their algorithm changed in 2018. This makes it more difficult to get organic views of ads, as FB is focusing on more “meaningful” interactions. The solution to this is to focus on promoted posts. LinkedIn is also a beneficial platform for food/beverage B2Bs looking to reach a target audience, as their ad engine allows for job-title and industry targeting.
The whole point to all of this social media marketing is to get those chefs and operators as excited about your brand as they are about anyone else they follow on social platforms.
Branding is an integral part of the buyer journey
Finally, whether you’re a B2B or a B2C operation, the main goal is to move your prospects down the sales/marketing funnel. And these days even B2B companies need to rely on their brand to facilitate that customer journey. If your company is one of the most visible that chefs and operators are searching for, then the quicker you’ll move them down the funnel to a purchase and, if you’ve branded yourself effectively and offer stellar service, ambassadorship.
It’s simple math: brand awareness reduces the time it takes for clients to find you. That knowledge of your operation also translates into greater good will, as the potential client is most likely to be receptive to a sales call if they are aware of your operation. Good branding will lend credibility to your business, and this credibility will pay dividends in the long run in the form of greater sales.
If the above points serve to illustrate any one theme, it’s that B2Bs in the food and beverage sector need to start thinking beyond their customers and consider the end consumer. Chefs and operators have developed their brands with this end consumer in mind. Know that your brand can and should be a part of this synergy, which will tether your operation to theirs, allowing for greater success and visibility.