Recently published reports in the B2B marketing world have spoken of the power of brand marketing, creativity and storytelling. But for a China marketing campaign or brand strategy does the same hold true?
Here at Brandigo, we have always believed in the power of stories. We blogged in December about how B2B marketing professionals should be incorporating brand experiences that allowed them to tell their story in an engaging, authentic way into their brand strategy. More recently, we discussed how leading-edge sales enablement technology like Showpad helps brands create stories that cast their customers as the hero, center stage in their brand story.
A study published earlier this week in Marketing Week based on research conducted by the magazine and our e3 Network colleagues, The Marketing Practice, brings the topic of B2B marketing and storytelling into focus again, largely drawing the same conclusions we did, that B2B marketers need to invest in creativity and storytelling just as much as our B2C cousins.
But for marketers tasked with implementing an engaging and effective China marketing strategy, a unique, diverse, dynamic environment that can challenge the usual thinking on most business issues, does brand-led marketing have the same impact?
This is the question I have been asking around the office for the last couple of days. And as you’d expect from the Brandigo team, the opinions might differ slightly but they are all equally well thought out and reasoned.
One interesting viewpoint came back from Kadri, one of our talented Senior Account Execs. She said, "B2B advertising is often rational rather than emotional. From what I've experienced so far, modern B2B marketing in China still means trade fairs, freebies and good old guangxi. Of course, it's very digital, but the storytelling aspect seems to be an afterthought.” One of the reasons for this that Kadri posits is that local managers don’t always have enough organizational power to lead a bold, local agenda.
For what it’s worth I completely agree with Kadri that a lot of China marketing continues to be more ‘traditional’ B2B. But as Mike, our China President noted, this also represents an opportunity. He commented’ “I think B2B marketers have known all along that it is great stories and emotion that connect people - whether they be consumers or an R&D specialist inside a hardcore B2B operation. Here in China, there is an incredible opportunity for brands willing to be contrarian and stand out in their markets - they just need to take that bold step.
“One critical takeaway from recent research is that B2B brands should send half of their spend on brand building, and the other half on activation - such as lead generation. Emotions and differentiation are an incredibly important part of B2B decision making.”
The point that Mike is making isn’t just theoretical either. A case in point is a recent Brandigo project for the UK Government’s Food is GREAT campaign which took the bold step of creating a series of experiential activations in China that told the story of UK Gin. The campaign attracted a whole new audience of Chinese F&B professionals, buyers, influencers and decision-makers who had previously little to no experience of UK craft gins but who bought into the stories and heritage of the brands involved and really engaged with Food is GREAT initiative as a whole.
So is brand-led marketing and storytelling important? Obviously yes. Is this true for China marketing? The answer to that is yes as well. Are all B2B marketers in China trusting in their creativity and taking advantage of this for their own brand strategies? Not yet but here at Brandigo will keep pushing the agenda and making sure that we add maximum value to our clients’ China marketing spend by looking at long-term brand building as well as short term sales gains. We do love the journey as well as the destination!