Tik Tok. Slow launch. The ‘Big Tease’.

  • November 23, 2023
  • Reading time: 3 min

The importance of long-term brand building for targeting future B2B buyers.

Is an email marketing funnel enough to score new business? Can brands put all their eggs in one basket, and hope for the best with a surprise announcement? Probably not without effective brand building. Today, as times are changing have changed, developing your brand and keeping your audience along for the ride is a crucial part of the B2B sales cycle.

We’re currently living through an age where younger generations predominantly consume content through social media. But these people are more than just Gen Z: the generation with new ideas and different ways of thinking. They are also our future buyers – the first cohort of digital natives to assume positions of seniority. And they’re social justice warriors. They care about constantly evolving, professionally and personally. If they’re buying into brands and businesses, they need to see those values reflected.

So, how can we shift our content and marketing strategies to ensure they’re built in the right way, reaching who they need to – and at the right time?

Tomorrow’s decision-makers: where are they?

According to a media consumption report from Insider Intelligence, 86% of Gen Z adults use YouTube and 73.9% are using TikTok. Unsurprisingly, these are platforms where they can not only consume content, but create it too. A large part of content consumption today is a trade-off; the generation wants to both feel part of and give themselves to the platform they take their ideas from.

This insight aligns with the development of marketing strategies today: trending audios and hashtags, user social media challenges. Seemingly, the more you can get your audience on board in the journey – in a way that encourages their own participation and creativity – the more likely you are to build reach.

But social media challenges can often fall flat if the insight isn’t there. You can’t expect a surge in participation if you’re chucking out something serious and asking people to put their spin on it. Whether they post one video a month or fifty, every social media user has their own personal brand to think about – and business brand building efforts need to understand what goes into that.

Dazzling vs. relating

To an extent, eye-grabbing campaign launches, with big-scale hero content, still deliver. Most of the time, having a two-minute campaign video with bold storytelling and dazzling visuals will help to get your message out there. But Gen Z are increasingly drawn to content that they relate to themselves. Marketing strategies used by celebrity brands today lean heavily into the 80/20 rule of content marketing – mostly because it’s incredibly low-cost and something that can be done continuously. This means 20% content dedicated to your brand: meaning your new product versions, or your enhanced service offering. The other 80% is just interesting content that caters to your audience’s interests.

Take a look at TikTok. A lot of what you see on the platform is from users you haven’t interacted with before, or don’t even follow. And when you do interact, or watch the full video, the algorithm brings you back to something similar. Adopting your brand values, identity – and anything relevant to what you hope to sell – into your ‘interesting’ content, in a subtle and relatable way, means part of you is always in front of the audience. Then, when the time is right, you can drop into the 20% hard branding.

Influencer partnerships also come into play here. Their established relatability, large online presence and loyal content viewership can help your message penetrate.

Gaming the wait: building up the buy

Slow launching keeps audiences aware that something is coming, and encourages them to join the journey in anticipation. Way back in 2013, stock-trading service Robinhood turned waiting for a new product launch into a challenge for consumers: bringing forward their access to the service each time they got someone else on board. By launch day, they had over one million opt-ins.

This is still a relevant approach today, particularly popular across marketing campaigns for new albums and artists’ tours. To generate buzz, pop artists don’t just announce a new album in a press release. They clear their instagram feeds to indicate a launch is coming, they hide ‘easter eggs’ (cryptic clues) in posts to drive online discussion, and create dedicated landing pages with interactive elements that evoke nostalgia and creativity.

In GWI’s latest report on Gen Z trends, it highlighted that they ‘game for connection’. Rather than how older generations see gaming as a leisurely, escapist activity, Gen Z are believed to do it more so to interact with others, a nice insight for marketers to tap into. Facilitating fun interaction doesn’t just drive clicks and leads, but it nurtures a deeper connection to audiences.

Always on, always building

Not only do younger generations constantly want to develop their personal brand, they’re likely to invest in brands that are doing the same. Whether it’s creating and sharing ‘behind-the-scenes’ life at the business on TikTok or just jumping on the content trend-train, long-term brand building is vital.

B2B sales cycles are long. But with the always-on culture of content consumption among younger generations, things might soon start to speed up.

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