BMC NORTH-WEST GETS UNDERWAY AT MEDIACITYUK
The first meeting of the Business Marketing Club NW, held in the quayside Lowry Theatre at MediaCityUK, could hardly have found a more apt location. A one-time hub of the northern economy as the Manchester Docks and more recently chosen to house the major relocation of BBC departments from London, this area provides a focal point for creativity and innovation in the north-west.
Fittingly, the event came complete with its very own northern powerhouse – a seven-strong panel of agency, academic and business brains primed to share the latest in b2b thinking. Each was asked to consider the topic of brand investment and its potential to drive growth for b2b organisations.
Upp B2B’s Max Clark, chosen to spearhead this regional offshoot of the London-based BMC as regional chair, kicked things off.
A new opportunity for b2b marketers
Max started with some hopes and objectives for BMC NW, which will aim to set a new standard of networking and knowledge sharing for b2b marketers throughout the north-west. The pledge to develop a dedicated support network for b2b professionals at all levels of the industry – a drive that includes the forthcoming mentor programme – was well received by the 65 or so people in attendance.
The human brand
Beccy Irving, client services director at Upp B2B, was the first panel speaker. Her exploration of how brands are becoming more ‘human’ as customer behavior continues to evolve was an ideal entry point to the wider discussion of brand impact in b2b. These ideas were developed later in the afternoon by Upp B2B director of brand Ann Rimmer, who unpicked the current zeitgeist for identifying brand purpose.
“Brand purpose is a rallying call: it’s a signal that you’re human and that you care,” Ann Rimmer.
A fascinating example of b2b brand investment in action came from Kelly Grundy, Brother UK’s senior marketing development manager. Kelly revealed how the Brother team has shifted brand perceptions to support the company’s future as a business solutions provider, successfully moving away from the strong brand association with Manchester City and the Gallagher brothers (not an easy tie to break!) forged in the 1990s. She explained how a different approach to sports sponsorship, this time in the world of cycling, has given Brother an effective platform to build powerful brand associations.
Brand investment in b2b: Case proven
This event marked the official launch of a new report by Manchester Metropolitan University and Upp B2B entitled Exploring brand evolution and growth in B2B services businesses. This research uses the stories of five high-growth b2b businesses in the north-west to explore key findings about external and internal brand development.
Armed with these insights, senior lecturer in digital marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University, Allie Johns and report co-author Tamara McNeill were on hand to bring some academic rigour to the question of branding in b2b. Tamara stressed the importance of internal brand communication and reinforcement among high performing companies, while Allie looked at how brands can master the mysterious quality of ‘distinctiveness’ and make a powerful first impression.
Real brand stories
The final part of the session saw managing director of Love Energy Savings Phil Foster and Join the Dots sales and marketing director Graeme Lawrence discuss the importance of brand investment and explain how a focused internal and external brand strategy has driven growth for their businesses. Both companies are featured in the Manchester Metropolitan University/Upp B2B report (print copies are available from Upp B2B – email firstname.lastname@example.org to request one).
“For every minute you spend talking to customers, spend a minute talking to your staff,” Phil Foster of Love Energy Savings.
Two very different businesses and two unique speakers, but both held the room captive with a blend of anecdote, audience participation and brand thinking. “Brand strategy is business strategy,” said Graeme – a soundbite that was repeated several times during the closing question and answer session.
Matt Duxbury – Senior Content and Copywriter at Upp B2B