No doubt you’ve already read up quite a bit on what merchandising and endorsement deals are. Still, aren’t these things a little out of place in a professionalized process like B2B lead generation? You might think that but the underlying concepts of both can be applied. Better still, you might already be applying them but just aren’t aware of it.

First: How are they different?

When you’re merchandising, the merchandise is still more or less part of your brand. (And yes, B2B branding does exist unless you think Oracle is as fictional as Stark Industries.) It carries your logo, your motto, and references to your actual products even when the merchandise itself has nothing to do with it (here’s your free pen sir).

Endorsements (like your typical celeb commercial) rely on another party who is distinct but at the same time, endorses your products to your audience. The recently concluded World Cup was full of this. Major icons featured everything from Gatorade to KFC.

So what’s the difference between the two? Well, you can start by looking at this ad for Mr. T Cereal and this popular one for World of Warcraft (also featuring Mr. T). The first ad is clearly a product meant to promote the artist himself but in the second one, you see two distinct parties. You have Mr. T actively endorsing the game.

Second: What are the concepts?

Merchandise is essentially like whipped cream. It’s anything that’s not much by itself but it can go well with a full-blown marketing campaign. You may have pens but you can also have definitive user guides (like if you’re marketing medical software). Complimentary mobile apps also work. These may not be the key to winning more sales but they help in their own little way.

Endorsements don’t just come in the form of commercials either. Guest blog posts. Guest speakers. Basically, the movie stars in the B2B industry are the thought leaders who can boost the credibility of your business. Industry influencers (such as critics, advocates, and review sites) are another alternative. Granted, it may take more than just your marketing department to get these guys on board so you really have make sure a bold move like that will really boost sales.

So as you can see, you may have already executed the same strategies as those marketing to consumers. The only real differences are the actual merchandise and the individual endorsers.