Building brand trust in B2B: What’s different from B2C?


Safefrog 2019 most trusted b2b brands
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Successful companies know that branding and building brand trust are the secrets to longstanding relationships with customers. In any industry, building brand trust means getting personal and starting meaningful conversations. The tone and subject matter of those conversations, however, varies between B2B and B2C. Data from the 2019 Trusted Brands Report demonstrates that the most trusted B2B brands share certain marketing behaviors and patterns:

  • they find ways to get personal with their content
  • they prioritize a positive public relations presence
  • they stay up-to-date on the latest marketing tactics

B2B has a longer sales cycle than B2C: decisions are often made over longer periods of time with input from multiple stakeholders; companies maintain long-standing business relationships; and networking is everything. Let’s explore how some of the most trusted brands in 2019 connected with their audiences.

Getting Personal with Content: Apple

Apple, the second most trusted B2B brand of 2019, created a delightful short film as part of their “Apple at Work” campaign. Under three minutes long with a full cast of characters, the film is entertaining while seamlessly showcasing all the ways Apple can help employees at any company work around-the-clock collaboratively from anywhere in the world. The rest of the apple.com/business webpage is filled with case studies that show what Apple has done for some of its most notable B2B customers.

Content marketing like this builds brand trust by connecting with customers on what they personally care about. Though the film is clearly a high-budget, professional production, the actors are relatable people stuck in a relatable predicament: getting a tough project finished in time for a spur-of-the-moment presentation. Just like a B2C customer watching an Apple ad on YouTube, a B2B prospect watching the video on Apple’s B2B webpage will feel they can trust Apple because the company is articulating priorities they have in common: using time efficiently, good design, user-friendly technology, collaboration, and portability.

Leveraging Public Relations: Marriott International

A positive public relations presence is another major component of being a trusted brand. Successful B2B companies that maintain customers’ trust in the long run are neither those who think “no news is good news,” nor those who think “any press is good press.” Rather, trusted brands are those who proactively work to send out thought leadership, pitches and press releases to local news outlets and trade papers to be the driving force of their brand’s narrative.

With a shorter sales cycle, B2C brands don’t need to worry about bad news that only lasts for one or two news cycles, but B2B brands, or brands that work in both spheres, must be watchful of their reputations. Marriott International, the eighth most trusted brand of the year according to the report, is an example of a positive role model for other B2B brands. When the company chose to eliminate travel-sized bottles to reduce plastic waste, it wisely disseminated press releases and earned coverage from large news outlets such as CNN, Adweek, and People.com.

Using the Right Tactics: FedEx

Staying up-to-date on the latest marketing tactics is important for building brand trust because the right tactics ensure you’re communicating with your audience through a means they’ll be receptive to.

If your audience is scrolling through social media watching videos with their device’s volume off, for example, you’ll need the to create videos with enough text on screen to tell the whole story without sound. If your audience is impressed by plans and diagrams, upload your PDFs to a LinkedIn post so viewers can swipe through pages of vivid illustrations right there in the app or on their browser. These days, there’s no shortage of ways to share information, advertise, and otherwise reach your audience, so tune into their wants to find the marketing mix that’s best for your company and audience.

A great example of a company reaching customers through a modern marketing tactic is FedEx, the most trusted brand of 2019. FedEx created a web series and shared the videos through social media. The web series is a competition show (ever popular) for young entrepreneurs. This is a perfect way of using a relevant marketing tactic (video marketing) to get at the heart of a B2B audience’s interests.

Wrapping Up

Brand trust isn’t built overnight. It takes a great deal of personalized content, strong public relations work, and use of the right marketing tactics. B2B customers are looking for consistency and professionalism, and those attributes are proven through consistent excellence rather than one-time gestures. Follow these examples and you’ll be building the kind of trust that matters for years to come.

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Mark Schmukler

Mark Schmukler is CEO and Co-founder of Sagefrog Marketing Group, LLC, a B2B marketing agency. Mark is a trusted brand strategist, global marketer and successful entrepreneur bringing more than 35 years of global marketing and consulting experience to the agency.