To Build Trust in Your B2B Marketing, You Have to Kill Your Brand

Your customers have needs, and if you meet them—sans ego—they will come

The key to successful B2B marketing can be summed up in two words: Be useful.

But to do that, you might need to betray your marketing instincts. Every marketer bone in your body tells you to ensure each piece of content you create is wrapped in your brand. You (like your competitors) inundate your audiences with ads, emails and messaging—as you should. Traditional strategies that highlight why your offering is useful are completely necessary. They create the foundation for your lead-gen machine.

But to your prospects, real value has no brand, no ego. It doesn’t have to be sales-pitched. To truly provide that value and get an edge on your competition, you have to go back to what gives your brand its value in the first place—your company’s expertise. Then you need to extend it beyond your main offering. That’s what it means to “kill your brand.”

Leave the industry better than you found it

People will always expect a sales pitch from brands, and that goes double in the B2B industry. B2B is competitive, which, if being honest, tends to make these brands a little … thirsty. But these brands are also experts in their industries; they’re in the weeds in ways outside observers can’t hope to replicate, much less relate to.

If you can package and share that expertise, you can cement yourself—your brand—as a valuable, trusted resource. And that’s a huge step toward eventually converting a prospect into a customer. The key to executing on this starts with three questions:

  • What subject do you know best as a brand?
  • What about that subject does your industry need to know more about?
  • What useful content can you create that can meet that need?

Let’s examine an example of this in action. MNTN’s main offering is an ad platform that helps advertisers reach consumers on connected TV (CTV). With streaming television coming into prominence over the past few years, it’s clear that the industry needs more timely news and data about how CTV advertising (and the associated streaming industry) is shaping up.

It’s possible to provide education via company newsletters, blogs and so on, and those were offered. But MNTN also wanted to give its educational content even more room to breathe, untethered from the priorities of a corporate blog. The satellite site, MNTN Research launched with the mission to offer first- and third-party data and analysis for educational purposes. No sales pitch or promotional nudge—just facts and figures. While the name ties it back to the brand, its design and editorial style were starkly different, and it wasn’t linked to the main corporate site at first.

The decision paid off. MNTN Research saw a 57% average monthly growth in traffic. And as it drove in traffic, it was noted that the satellite site played a real role in a prospect’s journey to requesting a demo—resulting in a 23% higher demo conversion rate among users who visited the site.

Giving users a comfortable place to learn without being pitched helps establish your brand as a positive force committed to bettering your industry. It’s a proven model—other tech companies like IBM and Microsoft have similar setups, separating out their research arms.

To do the same with your own brand, look for knowledge gaps in your industry that, when addressed, will make your prospects savvier operators. Offering something for free may make for a longer funnel, but it’s a sturdier one. Give prospects what they need to do their jobs well, and when the time comes to make that big business decision, they’ll remember you’re worthy of their trust.

Taking value to the next level

Data and news aren’t the only ways to offer utility that improves your prospects’ work life. For example, if you have a customer-facing initiative that helps relay useful information, consider modifying and spinning it out into a prospect-facing program. Doing so can create even more interest in your brand’s ability to deliver — if your brand is just giving away something this useful, what might your actual customers be getting?

Create a signup page allowing outside users to subscribe for that valuable information (bonus points for attaching it to a satellite site!) and you have a new lead-gen initiative that doubles as a utility for your prospects. You can expand its usefulness further by offering information that falls outside of your core product offering.

MNTN recently implemented a similar approach with a seasonal alert program. Marketers can pick which major shopping events matter to their brand and receive timely notifications for when to start on key campaign planning milestones. To ensure it’s useful to as many marketers as possible, the alerts cover all digital channels, not just CTV.

Utility-first marketing lasts

For any brand, but especially B2B brands, credibility and trust are essential. When you can offer value without selling your brand, you’re no longer just another company vying for attention. You’re an institution prospects can genuinely trust and depend on—because what you can offer is worth keeping.

Tim Edmundson is the senior director of content at MNTN, where he oversees research, thought leadership, and analysis of the streaming television and media ecosystem.