In the B2C e-commerce world, cool campaigns are a dime a dozen.
Just throw up a TikTok or partner with an influencer and you've got the makings of a viral campaign.
When it comes to B2B companies, though, we have to get a bit more crafty if we want to catch eyes and generate traffic to a landing page.
When it comes to B2B marketing campaigns, though, we have to get a bit more crafty considering the formality of most companies.
The problem is, most B2B marketing examples are boring or so niche they won't work for your business—especially if you're in a small business.
Copying a campaign won't be effective, but a great idea can get the gears turning or give you an idea for a new approach to marketing automation, for example.
So we've created a list of creative B2B marketing ideas along with lessons you can learn from them — along with a few GIFs to keep it interesting because nobody ever said B2B marketing strategies have to be boring (And if they did, they were wrong.)
Note: Want to identify and track new leads from your marketing campaign? Try Leadfeeder free for 14 days to which companies visit your website, plus behavioral details about the pages they visit and more.
Lesson 1: Tell them what they want (what they really, really want) to know.
The B2B marketing funnel keeps getting longer. What used to be a straight line looks a bit more like the Autobahn with multiple twists and turns. Part of this is due to marketers adding new B2B marketing ideas to the top of the funnel. 👍🏼
The average B2B decision-maker makes an average of 12 online searches before making a purchase decision.
What does this mean for B2B brands?
It means you must provide searchers with what they really want — and fast. Which means investing in B2B content marketing, especially top-of-the-funnel content.
YourSales, a sales consulting and outsourcing company, used this tactic to start highly relevant sales conversations about topics important to their customers.
First, they share highly relevant content, like this article about reducing sales funnel friction and helping sales reps use LinkedIn:
Then, they used Leadfeeder to see who visited their site and used the MailChimp plugin to see website activity for registered videos.
As a result, they could send their sales team a full profile of prospects — including their name, email address, and website activity—to inform their outreach messaging.
For example, if someone views your page about what features a marketing CRM should have, you can open up a conversation about how to choose the right marketing CRM.
YourSales CEO Jakob Thusgaard has been thrilled with the result of these valuable customer insights. He does, however, remind his staff not to say things like, "I saw you were looking at our product page online!" which can feel creepy.
Rather, reps are instructed to ask questions that guide the prospect to explain their thought process and hang-ups. You'll already have an idea of what they’ll say, of course, but it feels more natural this way.
Why it works:
The B2B sales process is no longer a straight line from point A to B. Using content marketing to educate customers creates a connection by helping you deliver useful, on-target content and conversations.
Lesson 2: Show them how to do it
Free lunch, dogs at the office, maybe beer pong in the break room?
Sure, some people want those things. (✋)
Really, most workers want someone to make their job easier which is why the best B2B content tells them how to do their job better.
Marketing Muse, an AI-based content tool, produces a ton of detailed, in-depth content aimed at teaching prospective clients how to build an effective content strategy and produce excellent content.
They create top-of-the-funnel content, like "What is Content Strategy (With Examples)" that defines content strategy and provides detailed examples as well as definitions of important terms.
They use SEO optimization to help the content rank in search engines, then weave in references to their platform, which helps businesses research, build outlines, and optimize their content against competitors.
For example, on the side of the article above, they show their own pieces' content score in the sidebar.
They also provide advanced content for more knowledgeable prospects, such as their Guide to Gap Analysis.
Marketing Muse produces content that educates those buyers about the industry — but also shows how their tool can help those folks produce better content.
Their approach seems to be working — they have raised a total of $1.3 million in funding, including their most recent round of funding in October of 2019.
Why it works:
The average B2B buyer reads 13 pieces of content during their buyer journey—and 70% of that content is on vendor websites.
Creating educational content creates a sense of trust — and educates them about your product before they ever talk to a sales rep. This improves the quality of the leads you generate, which means less work for more sales.
Lesson 3: The lasting first impression
According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy, you have just seven seconds to make a first impression. That’s seven seconds to make your brand memorable, and convince the other person that you’re worth their time.
So, why are so many salespeople wasting their first impressions with a fact-finding mission?
FA Solutions decided to do something different and focus on building a lasting first impression.
They found that sales reps cold called prospects to find out more about their specific needs and interests — often with almost no knowledge of the company in advance. That first call was just a research project. Then they’d attempt to set up another meeting to give a more informed sales pitch.
Stop me if this sounds similar to the process you are currently using.
It was clear to FA Solutions that they were wasting their precious first impression. It was inefficient and it was turning away potential customers.
In the words of FA Solution’s Marketing Communications Manager Anni Salo:
“The first impression is extremely important when contacting a potential customer. We only get one chance to shine.”
So, what did they do?
They turned to Leadfeeder for data about who was visiting their website and where those folks worked so they could cyber-stalk research their prospects and deliver carefully tailored sales pitches that made a lasting first impression.
This process ended up being so effective that they were able to eliminate cold-calling entirely.
Why it works:
Cold calling prospects and quizzing them about their business turns them off.
Instead, start with a strong first impression that serves as the building block of a good relationship.
Lesson 4: You're so funny
Lenovo was looking for ways to bond with IT professionals.
It is a tall order; IT is often a high-stress job, but it also comes with its own brand of inside humor, lingo, and acronyms.
Even, at one point, a classic television show.
IT folks build, test, and maintain hardware, provide secure access to data, connect computers to networks, and often handle general computer maintenance for folks who are often less computer savvy.
As a result, they often rely on wry humor, including developing nonsense acronyms like PEBKAC (“problem exists between keyboard and chair”) to vent their frustrations. Lenovo, to its credit, knows who its target audience is. While their B2C customers might be more concerned about streaming Netflix, their B2C customers know their way around a server.
So, they developed a video series and written campaign called "Users Happen," which empathizes with the situations IT folks often face due to their colleagues — like Chad, who tries to stop an elevator with his laptop.
What were the results? For Users Happen campaign, Lenovo saw:
250 percent higher lead generation rate
87 percent video completion rate
Activated more than 90K dormant leads
Won 17 different B2B marketing awards
Why it works:
The first rule of advertising is to attract attention — and humor is an effective way to do that. The deep understanding of their audience also helped Lenovo create funny content that keeps their audience engaged.
Lesson 5: Give them free access—and make sure they like it
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a sales and marketing tool that helps brands connect and research brands on LinkedIn. Users get access to high-quality filters, the ability to directly message prospects via in-mail, and provide lead recommendations.
The tool is also on the pricey side, with most users paying around $99 per month to access those cool features.
So, how do they entice sales folks to pay to use their advanced tool? By offering a free two week trial before you buy.
But, LinkedIn goes a little further—they don't just offer a free tool and leave you to it, they send content about how to use it and have customer service reps reach out a few times during the trial to make sure you're making the most of all the tool's nifty features.
Their strategy seems to work well — more than one million sellers use LinkedIn Sales Navigator, generating more than a billion in annual revenue for the company.
Why it works:
For SaaS companies, offering a free trial is a powerful marketing move. However, by following up with users in the trial stage and offering educational content, LinkedIn is able to show the value of their tool and increase subscribers.
Lesson 6: Highlight your best customers
Social proof is a popular strategy in B2C marketing—but it can be just as effective in B2B. While you aren't likely to customers to post a bunch of TikTok videos with #LovemyHVACsupplier or #bestmarketingcompanyever, there are ways to use social proof in B2B.
Enter: Case studies.
By providing in-depth reviews of how your best customers have found success with your solution, prospects build trust. They may find a customer in their industry or one that found a solution to a problem they also face.
Hubspot uses case studies, including this one from Studio Proper.
This case study doesn't just share random quotes about how they love HubSpot; instead this case study digs deeper to deliver specific stats about how their tool improved results.
Which statement would convince you more "We love Hubspot, it's really helped us close more deals!" or numbers like this:
50% reduction in sales cycle length
35% increase in revenue
Save 10+ hours per rep, per quarter
Their case study also digs into the features Studio Proper uses and exactly how they saved so much time. This makes the end results feel repeatable, not just a lucky result.
Why it works:
Case studies are bottom of the funnel content, which means they are more likely to be read by prospects that are almost ready to close. By focusing on benefits and explaining how your solution works, case studies build trust and leverage social proof to seal the deal.
Even better, this type of content tends to perform well on social media channels, allowing your brand to easily spread the word—just make sure to tag your customer.
Lesson 7: Not all marketing content needs to be written!
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that marketing content needs to be written or video. In fact, there are many other content formats to consider using, including infographics and podcasts.
Interest in podcasts continues to grow—in 2019, there were just over 274 million podcasts listeners. By 2024, that number is expected to reach over 500 million. Yep, even B2B customers want more podcasts.
Financial institution Morgan Stanley uses this marketing strategy with their podcast "Access & Opportunity." Hosted by Carla Harris, the podcast discusses topics related to capital and communities and covers topics related to reducing gatekeeping in publishing, building equity in the block chain, and reducing the digital divide.
These are topics likely of interest to their B2B customers. While the podcast itself doesn't push any of Morgan Stanley's business solutions, it does attract attention to the brand and raise the company's profile.
Does it work? Currently the podcast has 4.9 stars on Apple Podcasts and was awarded a Webby for "Best Branded Podcast or Segment 2022." Not too shabby.
Why it works:
Podcasts continue to grow in popularity. Hosting a podcast about topics that B2B users care about, helps raise your company's profile, increase leads, and builds trust. And, you can even slip in the occasional mention of your products or services.
Lesson 8: Find a way to make difficult processes easy
Ever wish there were more hours in the day? Or maybe one task just annoys you to no end. What if a brand came a long and solved that issue for you. You'd be pretty interested, right?
B2B products are rarely purchased on impulse. In fast, most B2B sales have multiple decision makers. Which means you have to put in a little more effort if you want to be the company customers choose.
CoSchedule, a social media marketing tool, aims to solve users' problems with their Social Media Content Calendar, Templates, Tools, and Easy Frameworks.
They combine several social media calendars, tools, and a guide on implementing a calendar all into one, long, insanely useful blog post. It's optimized to rank in search engines, so it pulls inbound links, but they also send it out in their email marketing newsletter.
The results? They're ranking on the first page for "social media content calendar template," helping increase brand awareness and attracting traffic—all by solving their customers' pain points.
What do the best B2B marketing ideas have in common?
B2B marketing campaigns can absolutely be creative and funny, or educational and in-depth. They can be long-form guides, short funny videos, or driven by technology. There are no hard and fast limits.
But, the most effective B2B marketing examples are built by companies that take the time to learn who their customers are and what will resonate with them.
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