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B2B brands making a promise to customers ‘more likely’ to grow market share

B2B brands that make an explicit promise to the customer are nearly three times as likely to drive a market share increase than those that do not, according to the LinkedIn B2B Institute and Warc.

New research examining 703 award entrants and winning B2B campaigns found 18% of them made an explicit promise to the customer and 82% did not.

Speaking at Advertising Week Europe 2024 today (15 May), Warc managing editor of research and insights, Paul Stringer, claimed the data shows there were “far fewer” promises made in B2B marketing than in B2C marketing and, perhaps worse still, there was a lack of “big, bold, brand-led ideas”.

He argued most communications boiled down to the “product-first” mindset many B2B brands subscribe to. Stringer also bemoaned the focus on “short-term tactics”, rather than employing more long-term brand strategies.

The results showed B2B brands which did make a promise to the customer were 2.5x more likely to drive brand health (48% with a promise versus 19% without), 2.9x more likely to drive market share increase (20% versus 7%) and 1.2x more likely to increase market penetration (44% versus 36%).

This work is a continuation of research introduced last year examining the benefits of making a promise to the customer across B2C and B2B campaigns, with an expanded paper scheduled for release in September.

Last year’s research showed B2C brands which made a promise were 1.5x more likely to increase brand health, 1.6x more likely to drive an increase in market share and, similarly, 1.2x more likely to drive market penetration.

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B2B firms that make an explicit promise have 48% more chance of increasing brand health

“We have this idea in B2B that brand is an optional thing if you have a bit of extra money,” said Mimi Turner, head of EMEA at the B2B Institute at LinkedIn.

“I’m absolutely of the belief, however, that brand is 100 times more important in B2B than it is in B2C. There’s often a tiebreak where all other things are equal and what we are seeing is that the buyer group picks the bigger brand.”

While LinkedIn and Warc had wanted to focus exclusively on B2B brand campaigns in last year’s research, there simply wasn’t a large enough dataset to draw accurate conclusions. There were only 435 B2B award-entry campaigns at the start of 2023, a number that has since “more than doubled”, partly credited to the introduction of the Creative B2B Lions in 2022.

According to the original research, a promise to the customer boils down to one of three things: being better value and quality, being easier-to-use or a product that will make you feel something different.

Or, as Turner told Marketing Week in June, whether it’s “valuable, deliverable and memorable”.

The most encouraging thing about a promise to the customer is that it is “free”, said Turner, because it is simply strategic thinking and can create a “competitive advantage” even for brands with smaller budgets.

“We’ve spoken in the past about how a customer promise is a useful way of reframing brand to explain to the board,” added Stringer. “It’s also a good test of how market orientated a company is. If they’re making a promise, it’s because they’ve taken the time to diagnose what the customer wants.”

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