Three characteristics underpin brand success in the dynamic world of B2B marketing: being present, relevant, and memorable.
It’s not just about reaching your prospects—it’s about doing so consistently across channels and through time.
But what about being memorable?
This is crucial because earning mind share—and staying top of mind—is the route to winning market share when those prospects are ready to make a purchase.
In this post, we’ll explore the concept of brand memories in greater detail and explain how you can leverage some psychological principles to better influence prospects’ decision making.
Simply put, visibility matters.
Regular encounters with your brand keep it at the forefront of your prospects' minds.
Being top of mind increases the likelihood of your brand being considered during purchase decisions when those prospects are ready to buy.
In his excellent paper on “The 95-5 Rule”, Professor John Dawes explains that advertising doesn’t work by stimulating us to buy.
Most people who see an ad aren’t yet “in market” and may not buy the product for a year or more.
The brand that is remembered is the brand that gets bought
Ads work by building a memory link for the brand in prospects’ minds.
If it lasts long enough, that memory link will be activated when the buyer does come into the market and is ready to buy.
The brand that is remembered is the brand that gets bought.
Importantly, brand impressions, accumulated over time, reinforce our memories.
So, your content should be designed to create and reinforce distinct impressions about your brand in people’s minds—something we call mind share—to be activated later.
But what makes a distinctive, memorable impression?
One of the earliest promoters—and arguably the most famous—was the showman, P.T. Barnum, of circus fame.
In the 1800s, Barnum invested heavily in mass advertising and publicity stunts, warning his fellow businessmen that, “without promotion, something terrible happens: nothing.”
Barnum’s three-part philosophy holds true today, even for B2B marketers:
1. Use memorable creative (these days graphical, rather than public stunts)
2. Reach as big a crowd as possible (these days an online audience, rather than a live one)
3. Focus on entertaining and publicizing, not persuading.
Showmanship arouses our curiosity and creates much stronger and longer-lasting memories than any form of salesmanship.
Bringing the three concepts back together: consistent, relevant, and impactful messaging across multiple channels reinforces brand identity and will help you outshine competitors who have less presence.
The problem with relying on prospects’ memories to trigger a desired purchasing decision is that human memories are inherently unreliable.
Without repeated exposure, the memory of your brand and offerings can quickly fade.
However, repetition reinforces recall.
Regular reinforcement of your message leads to superior retention of your brand’s information in your prospects’ minds.
Frequent interactions also strengthen the mental association between your brand and the solutions you offer. This means prospects can connect the dots more easily between the challenge they are solving and purchasing a solution from your company.
Consistent engagement is vital to avoid your brand falling into oblivion
Allowing prospects to experience too long a gap between encounters with your brand leads to another adage: Out of sight, out of mind.
Consistent engagement is vital to avoid your brand falling into oblivion.
Research shows that prospects’ ability to recall a brand after a marketing campaign falls off rapidly within a few months and eventually disappears completely.
During those months, prospects’ preference for the brand within its category drops, quickly losing top position among customers that would previously have shortlisted the brand for consideration.
Eventually, the brand loses category association completely—i.e., prospects don’t even name it when asked which brands they associate with a particular type of solution.
While budget control (a.k.a. cost saving) often prompts a pause in ad spending, this type of “memory corrosion” can be very costly to your brand.
Constant memory maintenance, it turns out, is the most prudent and practical way to prevent this loss—and yields greatest ROI on marketing investments.
Recency bias refers to the psychological phenomenon where people remember, and give greater importance to, more recently acquired information than they do to older information.
There are several ways to harness this innate behavioral trait for marketing advantage.
First, try to time your communications to coincide with prospects’ decision-making periods.
Second, update your content regularly to keep it fresh and more likely to be recalled.
Third, ensure that information about your brand is easily accessible when needed, to help positively reinforce recency bias.
Recognize that there is a clear benefit to steadily maintaining brand presence
Finally, rather than focusing on high frequency promotions and marketing bursts, recognize that there is a clear benefit to steadily maintaining brand presence.
Not only can this be more affordable, it also ensures recency throughout a long B2B purchase cycle.
This helps to ensure your brand is in the prospect’s mind when, eventually, the need for your solution finally arises.
The longer a prospect engages with your brand, the greater the likelihood of them entering the market and making a purchase—but also, the greater the risk that their memories of your brand will corrode if they aren’t reinforced.
Focus on recency, rather than frequency, when thinking about brand maintenance.
Making your information easy to find and convenient to access is crucial.
This is aided by being present on multiple platforms and creating content that is engaging and easy to digest.
While as we’ve discussed, repetition and reinforcement are important, you should present similar messages in different formats to keep your content interesting.
Multiple interactions also help to build trust by providing an opportunity to reinforce your brand’s credibility and reliability.
As is usually the case, testimonials and case studies that share customers’ success stories are powerful.
Content that aligns with the prospect’s stage in their buyer's journey is also most likely to be recalled since it is of greatest relevance to them at that point in time.
It’s essential for B2B leaders and marketers to recognize that a single interaction is rarely enough to engage or convert a prospect.
The key to successful marketing lies in multi-channel, multi-touch strategies that cater to each stage of the B2B buyer’s journey.
By understanding and leveraging the principles of memory, recency bias, and the power of multiple touchpoints, you can significantly enhance your brand's mind share and the influence that has on prospects’ decision-making processes.
Brand memories built with content that’s steadily and consistently maintained over the long term might not sound like a differentiator, but the evidence points to consistency beating one-off or time-bound campaigns.
Even better, once you’ve earned prospects’ mind share, it is much easier for you to retain it than it is for your competitors to wrest it away from you.
Category-leading brands aren’t just built; to stay on top they are constantly and consistently being maintained.
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Image credits: Adobe Stock