Your branding today equals tomorrow's demand. This statement is especially true in the B2B space when referencing the new gold standard of the 95:5 in market buyer rule: 20% of business buyers are 'in the market' over the course of an entire year; around 5% per quarter – or put another way, 95% are not in the market.
These findings are according to research conducted by the B2B Institute, LinkedIn's marketing think tank, and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute at the University of South Australia and authored by Professor John Dawes.
Therefore, a brand's marketing must build brand recall and trust for when tomorrow comes, as opposed to relentlessly pursuing lead acquisition, because 95% of your efforts will be wasted.
Or, to quote Dawes: "To grow a brand you need to advertise to people who aren't in the market now, so that when they do enter the market, your brand is one they are familiar with. They must mentally associate your brand with the need or buying situation that brought them into the market. That way you increase buyers' purchase propensity, and if you can do that across enough buyers, your market share will grow."
Educate, inform, and show insight around the problem you solve. And do it consistently for when the 5% is ready to buy.
One great way to do this is utilizing category entry points.
Category Entry Points (or CEPs) are the cues that consumers or buyers utilize to access their memories during a buying situation. This includes both internal cues (motives, emotions) and external cues (location, time of day) that impact buying situations. While every buyer and buying situation might be distinct, there are common themes or cues, which are termed as CEPs.
Take the coffee industry as an example we can likely all relate to. What are the category entry points for buying a coffee:
What coffee brand would you think of first in these different situations?
If you're a business that sells to other businesses, there is often a lot more context when trying to determine what your product or industry's category entry points could be. To determine your CEPs, you need to understand all the reasons why buyers would enter into a buying situation for your product or service. You can start by asking the W questions:
Let's use a business that sells accounting software to other companies as an example and try to answer some of these questions about their potential clients:
You will come up with a big list of category entry points when you start to answer all these questions. From that list, use the 3Cs to narrow down the list of CEPs and situations that you should focus on. Not all of them will make sense for your business, and you may be able to stand out from competitors in certain ones. Use this framework to prioritize your CEPs:
Category entry points influence which brands first come to mind during a decision-making process and form the initial list of options that a buyer considers. Understanding CEPs aids businesses in building strong associations between their brand and core buying situations in their product or service category. This ensures that when a buyer is considering a purchase within that category, the business's brand is more likely to be top-of-mind, thus increasing the likelihood of a sale.
To quote Dawes again: "Advertising mainly works by building and refreshing memory links to the brand. These memory links activate when buyers do come into the market. So, if your advertising is better at building brand-relevant memories, your brand becomes more competitive."
1. Understand your industry's CEPs:
Make sure you understand the internal and external cues that influence buyers within your category and recognize the recurring themes that emerge as CEPs. To do this, you need to have a solid understanding of who your target customers are. Building out target customer personas and a buyer's value matrix of all those in the buyer's committee will help you start to understand your customers' buyer's journey and where CEPs fit in.
2. Use Strategic Branding & Marketing to Build More “Memory Links”:
Brands should be linked with CEPs in decision-makers' minds to make them easily retrievable when put in a buying situation. You can do this by having your brand presented alongside a CEP in marketing materials and advertising. To do this well, you need to have a solid brand strategy in place to understand how you want to represent your brand, such as your messaging and language, identity and visuals, etc.
Then you can:
3. Focus on One CEP Per Execution:
While a single advertisement should have a clear and singular message associated with one CEP for easy recall, the long-term brand strategy should aim to build brand associations with multiple CEPs. Depending on the budget, a brand can either present multiple CEPs concurrently or introduce new CEPs over extended periods.
By aligning your brand with CEPs in these ways, your business can build wider and fresher “memory links”, making your brand more mentally available to potential buyers and ultimately driving more sales.Let's Talk!