Ideas: The new currency of differentiation in B2B marketing

Ideas and insights are the new currency of differentiation, argues Claire Mason, CEO of Man Bites Dog

Trust has been the aspiration of B2B brands for decades. But times have changed. Not only is institutional trust harder to achieve in these unblinkered times; it’s no longer enough to drive preference in the B2B buying process.

The reason? From the outside, B2B businesses all look the same. Brands make the same claims about their products and services. Their USPs are closer to standard selling points. Brands need to do more than keep their promises to stand out in this sea of sameness.

But there is an answer. Buyers of complex, long-term products and services are more interested in what you know than what they know about you. Ideas and insights are undoubtedly the new currency of differentiation, and it’s time for marketers to act accordingly.

B2B marketers can win by building thinking brands. From the inside, B2B businesses are very different. But bringing these differences to the surface is a tall order. What does this mean for the role of the B2B marketer and how does it change the composition of the marketing mix? 

Marketers too often perceive PR as an abbreviation for media relations, driven by reactive reputation management and the news agenda. It shouldn’t be. PR isn’t establishing a static public image; it’s proactively managing reputation from the inside out.

No discipline is better placed to mine and refine an organisation’s thinking. After all, PRs were developing powerful content marketing before the term even existed.

In the new marketing world order, PR should be responsible for setting the overarching ideas and strategy that provide direction for the full PESO approach. B2B marketers must be able to package their organisation’s expertise into marketing campaigns underpinned by commercial objectives, delivering measurable, commercial results.

To stand out, thinking brands require ideas-led marketing campaigns that tap into topical market-moving issues, address relevant audience concerns, and ultimately create calls to action for the business. Sounds like PR to me.