Branding and performance marketing are usually perceived as two distinct tactics. Branding is often seen as a top-funnel activity that builds brand identity and awareness, while performance marketing may be considered a bottom-funnel technique that drives conversions and sales. But it’s not only possible to fuse the two - it’s vital if you want to achieve success in B2B long-term.
Start by building your brand identity
It’s harder to attribute the effectiveness of branding as opposed to performance marketing, which is why the latter tends to be prioritized. That’s not to say that one or the other is more important; the key is to achieve balance. So, before going full-on with performance marketing campaigns, first establish your brand identity.
Branding lays the foundation upon which all your marketing efforts rest. It's why your audience says "yes" to your messaging, or according to Pravda: "Marketing is like asking someone out on a date. Branding is the reason why that someone says yes."
Find your company’s sweet spot
Like inbound marketing, branding entails comprehensive research to know your business, audience, and market. It requires an in-depth exploration of buyer personas, product offerings, and sales processes to identify your business’s “sweet spot.”
Ask yourself: What do your customers want? What does your business excel at? Where can you outshine your competitors? (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Source: Pravda
Activate your brand with performance marketing
With the branding foundation laid out, it's time to activate it through performance marketing. Make sure to select and segment your audience strategically. Casting too wide a net can be expensive. Here, your branding strategy can guide you in deciding where to focus your efforts, helping you narrow down and reach the right audience.
Most importantly - think long-term. A short-term sales-driven campaign can give a boost to traffic or leads. But if your overall campaign goals are long-term, you are more likely to build trust with your target group and, therefore, sell more in the future, even if no ads are currently running (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. Source: 5 Principles of Growth The B2B Institute 2019
You want to avoid making one-off shoots that don't have a lasting effect. It’s why you need a strong correlation between branding and performance marketing in the first place - so that individual campaigns contribute to an overall long-term effect.
And that's where the fusion happens. Most solutions in branding and performance marketing are the same - knowing your potential clients and what you want to say to them, producing the necessary assets, and ensuring those assets appear when your audience is searching for your solution.
Figure 3. Source: 95/5 rule from B2B Institute 2021
Only 5 percent of B2B buyers are in the market to buy at any given time (see Figure 3). But those 5 percent actively seeking your solution today might differ from the same 5 percent a month from now. Therefore, you must be ready to capture the next 5 percent whenever they emerge, just like in the case of Knauf DANOLINE.
A real-life example of fusing branding and performance marketing
We joined forces with Pravda, a Danish brand agency, to deliver a marketing campaign for Knauf DANOLINE, which sells acoustic panels made of gypsum. The campaign revolved around a singular target group - architects, and a specific issue - acoustics in buildings. Under the "Sound of Life" banner, we developed a campaign that harmonized branding assets and messaging consistently across various platforms and ad sets, yielding tangible performance marketing results.
We used recognizable imagery and copy tailored to the architectural community's specific concerns regarding acoustics in architecture. By honing in on this niche audience and addressing their unique pain points, we ensured that our message resonated with them.
The strategic approach allowed us to build a brand for Knauf DANOLINE to solve the critical issue of acoustics within the architectural community. We wanted architects to have Knauf DANOLINE at the top of their minds as soon as they thought about acoustics and not just throughout the campaign.
This is precisely what happened when building regulations in Denmark changed. It brought more attention to acoustics indoors, which in turn caused more architects to reach out to Knauf DANOLINE even if there was no active campaign running at the time.
While performance marketing provides more immediate results, branding takes time to manifest. Merging the two is an often underestimated potent strategy; if you’re willing to do the work, you will gain more long-term.
If you could use guidance on how to go about your marketing campaigns, check out our performance marketing services.