Unveiling Rock Content’s Zero-Budget B2B Brand Campaign

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In a world where big budgets often steal the spotlight, we embarked on a daring adventure – launching a brand campaign with absolutely no budget. It might not have been the ideal scenario, but let me take you on a captivating journey through our experience and reveal how it all unfolded.

We’ve been working on a branding campaign for quite some time. 

You might know that marketing works in two different ways. Branding is when you create memories that influence behaviour over the long term; activation, instead, is when marketing evokes an immediate response, without necessarily affecting long-term memories. This latter is classic leadgen, as B2B marketers are used to call it. It’s paid search or display advertising. It’s performance marketing. It’s limited-time promotions (think about Amazon’s daily deals or our own WriterAccess’ 14-days free trials).

As it often happens in B2B (too often), we have always given priority to activation/leadgen – and this in a way makes sense for a start-up like Rock Content in the first years of its operations. With activation, you can immediately see results. Activation supports our monthly pipeline. You can measure the return on investment of it, in (nearly) real-time. On the other hand, branding takes time, its results are long term and not so easy to measure. 

But it’s with branding that you will generate demand. Both are important disciplines and should go hand by hand: the first supports the second; the second completes the first. It’s like having a marketing model working with two different “velocities”; you need to balance the two velocities and adapt them to your specific situation: too much activation will cause too little demand and strong conversion, but limited growth; too much brand building risks to build strong levels of demand and weak levels of conversion. In order to get sustainable long term growth you need to have a good level of demand and good level of conversions.

Both brand building and activation are important and should go hand by hand: the first supports the second; the second completes the first.

In fact, the campaign’s goal is to increase mental availability. The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute defines mental availability as “the propensity of the brand to be thought of, or noticed, in buying situations.” In other words, brands with high mental availability are “easy to mind” in relevant buying situations.

While this seems simple, this school of thought requires a radical reconfiguration in the way B2B marketers think about marketing. Specifically, mental availability requires marketers to become less brand-centric, and more customer-centric.

Putting ourselves in the mind of our customer isn’t easy. The primary questions we should be addressing are “On what occasions / at what moments in our consumers’ lives can our brand come to mind? What chances are we currently missing? Where are our competitors beating us in the battle for mental availability? Do we have competitors in those moments from products in other market categories that we hadn’t realised we were in direct competition with?”

Then getting ourselves there by identifying the memory structures associated with those moments. These moments are called category entry points (CEPs), and the more of them our brand can get involved with, the more “mental availability” we have, and the more products we are likely to sell.

So we started identifying these moments, and we came with several variations of our new branding campaign.

Here is a non comprehensive list of CEPs that came out after a diagnosis phase, which included customers and internal interviews. The campaign addresses the following “moments” in the life of marketers, our potential buyers. 

  • Marketers want to easily scale content creation, without hiring, with no fixed costs
  • Marketers want a full solution, not single tools. They need marketing solutions and services to cover all phases across the full customer lifecycle
  • Marketers want to increase customer engagement 
  • Marketers love to feel pride, a sense of achievement, success, becoming a rock star
  • Marketers want to be efficient and have an easeful work experience 
  • Marketers want to get recognized for doing a good job

This is why we decided to work on a branding campaign and the concepts at the core of the campaign itself. 

Our journey was supposed to begin with a creative agency, maybe a branding consultant, and high hopes for our branding campaign. However, budget setbacks – our branding budget was cancelled, multiple times – forced us to pivot in-house, and it turned out to be a unique adventure filled with enthusiasm. 

Before you get the wrong idea, I am not suggesting this path for everyone. However, halfway through, with a zero budget, but brimming with ideas and enthusiasm, we made the bold decision to move forward on our own.

Back to the CEPs, the campaign has been created with these points in mind. We started from the diagnosis, we identified our CEPs, finally we developed creative design and the copy to address each of the CEPs. The full process took a few months – without any external help we had to focus on it internally. We created a cross-functional squad, we met on a weekly basis, we ran the interviews, we identified the CEPs, we did our home-works with the copy and the creative side.

It is not a typical B2B campaign. We are infusing humour and in addition, the campaign plays with rock music and our company name (Rock Content) as a main theme while addressing all CEPs. This approach was not new for our seasoned employees (our rock music-inspired t-shirts were a huge hit last year at Inbound); now, we’re taking that creative energy and channelling it into a structured campaign. In addition, the campaign introduces our products and solutions; it can be easily adapted for both US and South American markets. Our campaign’s primary aim is twofold: to make us distinctive from the competition and capitalize on buyers’ situations, fostering brand recognition and trust through memorable experiences.

Our initial strategy was a carefully crafted combination of paid advertising and organic outreach, designed to maximize our reach and impact. 

However, as I previously mentioned, we encountered a budgetary shortfall that forced us to pivot entirely to an organic launch. This meant relying on our in-house resources, such as our dedicated team of content creators and social media experts, to generate buzz and engagement through compelling content, strategic SEO efforts, and grassroots promotion within our target audience.

The heart of our organic launch was a comprehensive social media distribution strategy. We engaged our dedicated social media team to craft and disseminate content across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Through these channels, we fostered authentic interactions with our audience, sparking discussions, hosting live events, and encouraging user-generated content to create a dynamic online community around our brand and product.

But what truly set our organic launch apart was the unwavering commitment of our passionate employees. Recognizing the importance of internal advocacy, we instituted an employee engagement program. This initiative empowered our team members to become brand advocates by sharing our content, participating in discussions, and championing our cause on their personal social networks. Their authentic enthusiasm not only expanded our reach but enhanced our brand’s credibility, as our employees were seen as genuine ambassadors of our brand.

In essence, our commitment to this approach not only helped us navigate the budgetary limitations but also allowed us to establish a robust, organic presence in the digital landscape, driving engagement, awareness, and brand loyalty, all thanks to the collective efforts of our dedicated team.

Though not ideal, our journey from planned mixed paid and organic initiatives to a full organic launch reflects our adaptability and team dedication.

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