Interbrand Thinking

Q&A with Jim Habig, Vice President of Marketing, LinkedIn


Q&A with Jim Habig, Vice President of Marketing, LinkedIn

Our analysis shows us that B2B brands are built differently from B2C brands. Do you think this is true? And how do you believe successful B2B brands are grown?

I think that a dearth of brand building has plagued the B2B space for a while, but the brands that are winning are those which invest in longitudinal relationships with their customers. It isn’t just about the transaction and isn’t just about this next sales cycle. And you know we’ve become hooked on this drug of CPL and driving that ever down, which leaves a lot of the map unexplored. It’s more about reliability over time and trust. Being present, being an active participant in conversations, and essentially adopting the long view. That’s sort of the secret sauce for B2B brands that stand up, and presence over time is going to create salience. And to that end, I think where I’ve seen a lot of growth is in the “back to basics” of marketing. Giving people a feel for your brand, in certain channels, and forums.

Where are you focusing your attention and experiencing growth as it relates to your B2B marketing?

We’re invested in getting the message out that LinkedIn is an under appreciated mechanism for brand building in the B2B space. When you think of our specific challenges, LinkedIn is known and very established in the talent space, and I don’t think a lot of people realize that the platform is evolving and becoming more of a place where you go to answer any kind of question, for example, questions about your career, about your professional sphere. This sets us up to be a much more powerful tool in the marketing set. The platform can help you to zoom out and reach people that are going to have an impact on your business. The challenge for us is we don’t have very high mental availability for that broader set of capabilities, and for being a marketing platform for meeting your customers and your prospective customers, the ones that are going to have jobs that are going hire you in their next role.

Brands that are winning are those which invest in longitudinal relationships with their customers.”

What have you found to be the most persuasive cases and data to push internally for B2B brand investment?

We are continually making the case for brand investment. I think that we have developed a heuristic for investment on the brand side. One that leads to both clicks and upward momentum in unaided awareness. We’ve come to a relationship there that we feel confident in and our C-suite believes. As well as seeing the power of brand, they also they feel it too. They see the ads, they see our activities, they meet with our customers, and they hear back from them. And so, we rely on that sort of head and heart balance with our finance team and leadership.

We see the most successful B2B marketing leaders as internal change agents able to galvanize the organization. Who are the main constituents internally you need to align with and how are you building trust?

First and foremost, sales. Successful B2B is always dependent on a very harmonious relationship between sales and marketing. We have a whole school of thought around marketing sales orchestration— making sure there’s a mutual understanding of capabilities and value. Sales are the most part our most powerful marketing channel, they’re tremendously important. So, I spend a lot of time with the sales teams focused on coming together as one team.

How do you strike the balance between great brand building efforts and more sales, driving efforts?

I think, we’re plagued by this duality, like a mindset—that there’s brand and then there’s demand. I think as much as we can make that a semi permeable membrane even breakdown the budget silos, the better. And think about how campaigns knit together. So, we’ve sort of smudged in both directions the distinctions between them. So, with our brand campaign, those brand principles, we want to and pass them through to all our demand gen and start to stitch them together at the campaign level. We see it as one integrated piece.

What are some of the big cultural forces you’re seeing impacting B2B and how is it impacting your approach to Brand?

One thing I think we can’t ignore is the ascendence of video. And how important video is to brand building in engaging your community. Just communications in general. You know, I’m sitting on a plane flying out here to Chicago … Every single person is on their phone, and every single person is watching some form of video. Be it TikTok, or YouTube, or hell, even BeReal, it’s everywhere. More B2B brands should think about how to really harness that power. I think we’ve been stuck in some industry-approved modes of communication. You know we published the white paper; you’ve got the email campaigns. But how are we thinking about pushing those bounds and embracing the creative capacity of video?