B2B marketing has long been known for playing it safe. It’s like the well-behaved first-born standing next to their more emotional and creative younger sibling, B2C.
But with the democratization of technology, many B2B companies today are stuck in a sea of sameness offering similar products, services, and value propositions.
Closing the creativity gap is a huge opportunity for brands to drive growth. “It’s a marketing superpower,” says Conrad Persons, WPP. “Creativity is the last remaining source of competitive advantage,” he adds. In fact, B2B brands with more creative capital have 2.4x more growth than non-creative brands.
Some B2B leaders may think they have to choose between a data and technology-led marketing strategy or a more creative approach. But this is a false dichotomy. To overcome today’s challenges, a B2B strategy should take a balanced approach—combining data-driven insights, the efficiency and personalization of technology, and the innovation of creative thinking, says Persons.
B2B strategy has long relied on rational arguments and telling customers why they should buy products or services. But B2B buyers are not purely rational decision makers—they’re human beings who are largely driven by feelings. B2B brands today need to leverage more emotion to engage and excite their audiences.
For B2B brands that are also leading consumer brands, telling an emotional story comes more naturally. Heinz and Heineken both took home honors at the Cannes Lions Awards this year with campaigns that told inspiring, unconventional stories.
Traditional B2B brands can also find success by leveraging humor and celebrities in their campaigns. Workday, an enterprise software company, took a risk with their successful Superbowl campaign, wherein Ozzy Osbourne and other legendary musicians poke fun at corporate employees who call each other “rock stars.”
Physical experiences are a great method of creative storytelling. For instance, SAS, a leader in analytics, created the Batting Lab to inspire children to learn about data. The custom AI-powered batting cage collected more than 50,000 data points and turned player data into real-time coaching instruction.
Meanwhile, Flock Freight tapped Steve Burns, former host of the children’s show “Blue’s Clues,” for a popular ad that investigated “What’s in a F—ckload?” to add some humor and nostalgia to the otherwise dry-sounding logistics and freight business.
Building strong customer relationships
Coming up with a great creative idea is just the first step. Marketers need to measure whether a campaign will be effective by asking the following questions: is the idea relevant, will it move people into action, does it solve a problem, and can the campaign be measured?
It’s all about wrapping functional rational messages in an emotionally engaging concept. It’s time for B2B to step out of the boring role and connect with more people.