Why brand building is as important as lead generation in scientific marketing

Increasing long-term value for your brand is a cornerstone for marketing professionals across all sectors, including the scientific sector. However, in times of economic uncertainty and under pressure from senior leadership for quick results, marketers often focus on short-term gains from performance marketing over brand-building. Indeed, LinkedIn research shows that 62% of CMOs favour product promotion over brand building (37%).

Although there is widespread acknowledgement, increased spending, and support for brand building in B2B marketing, short-term product activation (‘Buy now!’) gives immediate results and is attractive because of this. In contrast, brand growth requires an investment in time, creating memories, and increasing mental and physical availability — ultimately resulting in customers choosing you when they are ready to buy.

We think brand-building should play a bigger role in the scientific marketing mix. Let’s see if we can convince you, too.


A long-lasting approach

The fundamental marketing work by Les Binet and Peter Field, The Long and The Short of It, famously emphasised the importance of brand-building as part of a long-term marketing strategy. The concept of ‘the long’ referenced the top of the funnel and brand building, whereas ‘the short’ referred to activation and the bottom of the funnel. Binet and Field posited that both long and short were as important as each other and, if in balance, could reap commercial success. Mark Ritson notes that the long and short approaches ‘serve the same ultimate purpose. But they do so at two completely different speeds’.


The short

Positioned at the bottom of the funnel, short-term activation and performance marketing produce immediate results, ROI credentials, and easy-to-measure metrics — making this approach attractive, particularly when faced with result-driven demands from CFOs.

However, as Binet states, these direct campaigns work well for sales efficiency but do not drive long-term growth. Instead, they create spikes in activity that quickly die down.

Plus, focusing solely on the short term can create potential problems in that you are only talking to those ready to buy right now — remember the 95-5 rule that says only 5% of your B2B audiences are in the market for your product right now; 95% are out of market. So prioritising short over long can prove to be a myopic and unsustainable approach.


The long

By contrast, long-term campaigns help build brands by creating awareness and memories that can potentially change behaviours. Binet points out that the sales uplift from brand-building accumulation results in long-term growth and profit.

Brand building is so crucial that Binet recommends allocating 60%+ of the marketing budget to long-term brand-building and the rest to sales activation. In the digital age, short-term activities are more efficient and require less money. Binet advises that more money and emphasis should go towards emotional, share-of-mind campaigns to bolster brand-building. In B2B, however, brand building receives 30% of budget allocation, while lead generation gets 36%. It would seem that there’s still some work to do.


The brain and brand

Long-term campaigns create memories and tap into emotions, so understanding how humans process information and make decisions is essential.

In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, the late psychologist, economist, and author Daniel Kahneman noted that humans make choices with a part of the brain he called System 1.

System 1 is a product of evolution and relies on emotions, experience, pattern recognition, and mental shortcuts. Humans use System 1 as their primary setting, which governs fast, instinctive choices. The other identified setting, System 2, is responsible for slow thinking and calculations and is rarely used.

Like it or not, our default mode is to look for mental shortcuts, choose things quickly, and tune out tasks that require us to overthink. In short, ‘we think much less than we think we think’.

Many key players in marketing, including the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute and The System 1 Group, have adopted Kahneman’s scientific principles to create new marketing paradigms. These experts concur that three metrics combine to achieve brand growth:

  • Fame
  • Feeling
  • Fluency

Fame is the result of mental availability. It is the ultimate expression of share-of-mind. Binet describes this as a continuum from awareness to salience to fame. Brands that have fame are the ones that quickly come to mind and make it onto someone’s mental shortlist. Building a brand’s fame is also foundational to the 95-5 rule. Fame correlates directly with market share. And should you need to convince the CFO of the importance of brand-building, remind them that the more fame a brand has, the greater the returns to the marketing budget. Binet states that campaigns that generate fame can quadruple the efficiency of their marketing budget!

Feeling relates to emotions and is at the heart of System 1. If customers like you, your brand becomes associated with happiness. Happiness is the dominant driver for the System 1 brain, and feeling good about a brand makes it a good choice. ‘The System 1 rule of thumb is short and sweet. If you feel more, you buy more. And if you feel more, you’re likely to pay more too.’

Fluency helps the System 1 brain process your messages quickly. Customers are creatures of habit and like simplicity. An easily recognised brand with distinctive assets (logos, taglines, colour schemes) and clear messaging will ensure their custom. Make it easy for them to choose you.

Your customers will be looking at other competitors in your space. The winning combination of Fame, Fluency, and Feeling can work together to make you the brand of choice.


Talking tactics

All customers, even scientists, purchase using emotion. It’s an accepted truth that trusted brands are repeatedly purchased, and research from Google and CEB shows that furthermore, B2B customers connect more emotionally with their vendors than B2C consumers. Perhaps not surprising when you consider B2B purchases could risk your job. Professor Byron Sharp further adds that even in high-involvement purchases, very little evaluation occurs. It’s the brand that comes to mind that gets purchased.

Therefore, connecting emotionally and using creativity to expand your brand’s fame is crucial to long-term brand health. With 95% of science professionals out-of-market at a time, let us help you craft campaigns that familiarise them with your brand, build neural links, and boost your brand discoverability early in the scientist’s buying cycle.


Long live brand!

The tide might be turning for long-term brand-building. As Ritson points out, it is no longer seen as a ‘frivolous, underperforming indulgence offering up zero short-term impact and questionable longer-term returns’. Key players in the marketing world are communicating the truth that long-term brand-building is critical in supporting short-term activation campaigns. We want you to achieve greater brand visibility and support your long-term goals. Get in touch to discuss how we can help you.


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