B2B marketing has a bad reputation. Marketing materials targeted at businesses are not exactly known for their innovative and exciting ideas. If you think about the first words that pop into your head when you think about B2B marketing, they’re probably “corporate,” “dull,” “old school,” and so on.
The fact is that many B2B marketers have got themselves into a rut and fallen into the trap of thinking that marketing messages targeted at businesses need to follow a formulaic template.
And, this isn’t working anymore. Research shows that B2B marketers are lagging behind their B2C peers in several areas, including technology use, analytics, and innovation.
B2B marketers have additional challenges, of course. B2B products tend to be much more complex and at a higher price point. B2B buying cycles are also much longer than B2C and involve many different stakeholders, compared to B2C purchases, which are often instantaneous and involve one person only.
It’s not simple or easy to overcome these challenges, but they don’t mean that your B2B marketing has to be safe, dull, and lacking personality, either. B2B marketers can follow the lead of B2C marketers to inject a little fun and innovation into their marketing strategy and put the spark back into their marketing.
- B2B content doesn’t need to be boring. Have fun with your marketing, and don’t be afraid to show a little creativity.
- It’s not just consumers who are interested in trending news and events. Try piggybacking on one of the latest pop culture or internet trends to get more attention to your campaign – you might even go viral!
- Ignore the popular belief that emotions are not important for B2B marketing. Use the power of storytelling to reach the people you’re ultimately marketing to.
1. Experiment, Be Creative, and Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
Stop following the unwritten rule that B2B marketing has to be dull and dry. It’s true that B2B buyers must be more logical and less emotional than B2C buyers, but they’re still human – you can still appeal to their desire for humor and to be entertained.
A lot of corporate marketing materials look the same – a color pallet of blue, white, and grey, with some standard stock photography of people in suits.
The world’s most successful brands don’t conform to the norms and are innovative with their marketing. There’s no reason why you can’t experiment, just because you’re marketing to a company rather than an individual.
Try using a bold color palette. Ditch the dull stock photos, and use some fun abstract images or illustrations. Be creative. Don’t be afraid to inject a bit of humor into your copy.
Many B2B brands are afraid of deviating from the corporate norm for fear that they won’t be taken seriously, but having the confidence to experiment and do something different and unexpected can make your business get noticed in a crowded market place.
To see how effective this approach can be, just take a look at the Euphoria campaign by Slack – rainbows and pink unicorns – not exactly your standard corporate imagery!
But, the campaign did its job at getting noticed and was a huge success. Instead of touting stats about productivity and efficiency in the usual dull and boring way, Slack created a campaign that was both educational and memorable.
2. Master the Art of “Trendjacking”
Many B2C companies are experts at jumping onto the latest trend or pop culture reference to get more attention to their marketing campaigns. Just look at the number of companies that produced campaigns themed around the hugely popular series, Game of Thrones. Ikea, Johnny Walker, and KFC all jumped on the GoT bandwagon, along with dozens of smaller brands.
It can be a little more difficult for B2B companies to use this tactic without coming over as cheesy and like they’re trying to hard, but it can be a very effective marketing tactic when done well.
One great example of successful B2B trendjacking is premium stock photography and video site Shutterstock. The company created their own promotional video for the ill-fated Fyre Festival using their own stock clips.
Not only did this video manage to attract a huge amount of attention due to the social media buzz and controversy around the festival, but it was also an incredibly effective way for the brand to showcase how stock footage can be used to create an impressive promotional video on a small budget. In just one day.
You don’t have to put a lot of time and resources into building a whole campaign around this tactic, either. This social media post by financial trading platform eToro joined the trending #10YearChallenge to draw more attention to its product and engage its audience.
3. Harness the Power of Storytelling and Emotions
B2C marketing tends to be rather emotionless and cold. This is because most B2B marketers follow the theory that B2B decision-makers buy with their head and not their heart.
While this is true to a point, it’s critical to remember that you’re still selling to a human, not a robot. As Forbes council member Joyce Salano puts it: “In reality, nobody is actually marketing to businesses — they are marketing to people. And people want content that is helpful and won’t put them to sleep.”
Of course, it’s still important to get across why buying your product or service makes good business sense. But, there’s no reason why you can’t follow the lead of successful B2C marketers and employ some storytelling tactics to make your messages more compelling and memorable.
Just take a look at this promotional video from management tool Airtable. It follows a group of children who are using the tool to help them plan and film a movie:
The video is not only cute, funny, and memorable, but it also effectively demonstrates how the software can be used in a number of different ways.
Compare it to their standard introduction video, which also demonstrates the product in a more traditional way. Both videos achieve the same purpose, but the first is more interesting to watch, and you’re much more likely to remember it.
If cute and playful isn’t appropriate for your brand, there are many other ways you can incorporate storytelling. Salesforce has an entire platform dedicated to its customer success stories, which demonstrates how companies in different industries and of varying sizes have used Salesforce to grow their business.
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