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Why marketers focus on brand and business strategy in 2018

Since 2011, Omobono has been conducting annual research into uncovering successful approaches used by B2B marketing leaders worldwide. The research, titled What Works Where, can be downloaded here. This article is the first of three that look at the role of brand in 2018 and beyond.

Strategy

Philip Black

US HEAD OF STRATEGY

Philip Black has a 19-year track record of helping business leaders achieve their full potential in ways that yield tangible results - creating and establishing brands, launching new products, and developing compelling digital experiences. At Omobono, Philip leads brand and digital strategy for client engagements in the US office.

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Omobono’s ongoing research strives to uncover key marketing drivers of success for B2B brands. The aim with our What Works Where research is to address a singular, essential question:

What are marketing leaders at the world’s largest companies doing to drive success?

The results from this year should be familiar, yet surprising.

To get there, we surveyed over 1,150 participants around the globe, with particular concentrations in the UK, US, EU, and APAC regions. Our data shows the past year has been good to marketers. Nearly eight out of 10 participants report the department is viewed as important within the organization, while 21% of participants report a large increase in confidence in marketing over the past two years. Influence is up, too. Today, 67% of marketers say they are being seen as fairly or very influential.

We see a common thread in 2018…

Our 2018 exploration into the thoughts of CMOs and other senior marketing leaders reveal a clearly emerging vision: With increased importance and influence, marketers are gaining traction in their function and elevating their profiles within (and even outside) their organizations like never before.

76% say their organizations viewed marketing as important

To kick off this new era, their survey responses have shown three powerful themes driving their strategy, planning and execution. The first three volumes of our 2018 What Works Where focus in-depth on the research surrounding customer experience, strategic brand, and the role of the marketing department within the organization.

While customer experience is the external expression of brand, marketers are working internally to craft their brands through an increasing marriage to strategy.

The brand reborn

Without doubt, fast-forming technology shifts (and more knowledgeable and astute audience segments) are driving the way CMOs go to market. Yet as buzz around AI, influence marketing and digital/social builds around more traditional constructs, there’s one beloved classic making a big comeback: the brand.

This isn’t old-school branding we’re talking about, though. It’s a new type of branding that we at Omobono are calling the “Strategic Brand.” And our 2018 research shows that for CMOs around the globe:

Brand awareness is the #1 objective of global marketing leaders

55% say brand awareness is their hottest priority and 39% felt brand positioning ranked as their most important objective

Brand is increasingly being seen as an integral part of organizational value. Other studies reveal that brand value now represents 20% of a business’s market capitalization, on average. Strong brands out-perform the shareholder growth of the average company – in fact, they experienced 125% growth over the past nine years, far surpassing the S&P 500’s growth of 82%.

Having a strong brand is no longer a marketing thing or a nice-to-have. It’s an essential business asset, and as one of our clients put it: a strong brand helps create air cover for all parts of the business, including sales.

Having a strong brand is no longer a marketing thing or a nice-to-have. It’s an essential business asset.

Consumerization of B2B brands on digital

If brand is important, how is it brought to life in the digital age? It certainly looks different from the past. Just a short two years ago, we asked about which channels were most effective. We learned that email marketing was far in the lead, with content marketing, social media and online video and podcasts forming the top channels. While those remain the top four channels today, content marketing has taken the lead, followed by social media, and email marketing slid to third place.

What this shift tells us is that sharing your brand’s story — why you are relevant in this world, connecting it with a sense of purpose – is a priority for customers and employees. And we’re not just talking about contemporary consumer brands like Warby Parker. We are seeing the full-scale consumerization of B2B brands. As Edelman’s Chuck Kaiser shared when discussing the PR firm’s 2018 Trust Barometer: “Business-to-business is now everyone’s business.” Your brand story must now be told in more personal ways, through increasingly personal channels – content, social, video, podcasts and webinars.

What’s next?

In my next two articles I’ll continue to explain our 2018 research. Specifically, the next post will concentrate on how knowledge of brand is becoming crucial to C-suite conversations, and how this shift has given voice to marketers in regards to overall business strategy.

Feel free to download the full 2018 What Works Where report, or check out our overview webinar. For more, follow Philip on linkedin or twitter: @MrPhilipBlack

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