A boring old man in a suit sitting in an office that hasn’t seen renovation since 1999. Is that how you see modern decision-makers?
Because many B2B marketing activities still look like this is their target audience, with their worn-out approaches and unnecessarily formal language.
Fortunately, if you’re reading this, it means you’re ready for change.
I believe (and my Leadfeeder team supports me) that B2B marketing should be just as fun and playful as B2C marketing. Because in the end, we’re all people communicating with other people. And I’m glad that you’re also with me on this.
So, as a thank you, I’d like to take you on a fascinating voyage to the world of creative B2B marketing. First, we’ll dip our toes in the waters of creative marketing by learning about its importance and challenges. And then, we’ll dive right into the ocean of creative ideas and the best B2B marketing strategies.
Let’s set sail!
When you think about creative marketing, you probably imagine all kinds of crazy commercials. Well, you’re not entirely wrong.
Creative marketing may indeed include a bit of cuckoo B2C or B2B advertising ideas, but it is a much broader concept. Basically, any original way to attract the attention and interest of customers is creative marketing.
This approach is much easier to imagine in B2C sales because the examples are a dime a dozen. But in fact, B2B also doesn't like boring marketing.
Good creative marketing should do three things:
Clearly present the brand identity
Know the customers' needs
Connect with their emotions
This way, your marketing becomes memorable, and customers are more likely to buy your product when they need it. And that's just one of the benefits of creative marketing — let's look at the rest.
If you think a serious B2B business doesn’t need creative voodoo to attract its serious clients, you're wrong. Everyone needs creative marketing — but in different forms. Allow me to break it down for you.
Creative content marketing drives innovation
Creativity requires constant brainstorming, an open mind, and readiness for outside-the-box solutions. Doesn’t this sound like an ideal ground for innovation?
Look at it this way: your marketing team may discover features your product lacks while looking for interesting options for B2B promotion ideas. Just don’t be the boss in that meme.
Creative marketing ideas are often cost-effective
Unless you’re going to blow up a bunch of cars Michael Bay style, creative marketing can be more cost-effective than a boring ad. For instance, you can draw a comic strip that explains a pressing issue in a funny way and share it online or start a Twitter thread that captures the pains of your audience.
Wherever your creativity takes you, just know that more creative marketing examples show higher organic revenue growth.
It may feel weird to back up creativity with facts, but that’s precisely what McKinsey’s Award Creativity Score does. Having analyzed Cannes Lions award-winning ads, McKinsey has found that 70 percent of the top winners have an above-average total return to shareholders and 74 percent above-average net enterprise value.
So if you don’t have a lavish marketing budget, it’s time to think about creative marketing approaches.
Creativity builds brand recognition
People are willing to pay more for a brand, but only if it’s recognizable. The logo, the name, the slogan, and the underlying associations are the greatest assets of a company. They push customers to choose the company's products from competitors.
And a great way to form these associations is to evoke an emotional response with creative marketing. When you see a monkey in a baseball cap at the bottom of your favorite newsletter, you know the chimp is behind this mail. Mailchimp. You get it. The goofy logo made you look.
Overall, what I want you to take away is this: creative marketing works similarly well for B2B and B2C sales. So don’t be afraid to spice it up. Even if you’ll have to overcome some creative marketing challenges.
As fun as it sounds, doing creative digital marketing is hard. Sure, coming up with fantastic ideas is a lot of pressure, but we’re not talking about writer’s block here. Creative marketing challenges are much more grounded.
Creativity needs data
Just like you cringed as a child when you heard your dad’s jokes, your customers may cringe if you go in the wrong direction with your creative campaign.
How do you know which direction to go? Simple. Just know your customers, their likes and dislikes, needs and desires. Easy-peasy.
Fortunately, you don't have to peep at them through windows to understand their preferences. Use legal methods of collecting information instead: cookies, quizzes, A/B testing, and others.
BTW, Leadfeeder can make this process easier for you by tracking the activity of visitors to your website.
Creativity needs time
If you think good ideas pop up in your head at the snap of a finger, you’re either a genius or a five-year-old. Creativity in marketing takes time to explore. A lot of time.
First, like I just said, you need to collect data about your customers. Second, you have to study other businesses' B2B marketing campaign ideas, both successful and failed. Third comes offering, sorting out, and discussing ideas. And all of that — you guessed it — takes time.
But that doesn’t mean you should rush your team since stress and fatigue can reduce creativity. As a result, employees might present to you the first "not a bad idea" that comes across.
Set deadlines with care and, if possible, outsource some of the work related to collecting and analyzing data to leave more room for the creative part.
You need to draw the line
One of the best creative marketing tools is humor. But you should draw the line of decency to avoid offending your customers.
GoDaddy, the domain name registrar, vividly shows how to meet this challenge… and fail. In 2005, the company launched a Superbowl ad: a beautiful young woman almost loses her top by showing her vision of a GoDaddy ad at a censorship committee hearing, nearly giving agitated committee members a heart attack.
“That was 17 years ago!” you say, “It was a different time. They wouldn’t pull off something like this today.” Sure… Then why did the 2015 ad of the same company collect 40,000 signatures in one evening to be removed from the Superball?
No matter how good with humor you think you are, don’t cross the line by insulting or upsetting people. Always run your idea by as many people as possible to see what they really think of it.
Speaking of ideas, have you already thought of something for your B2B business? Because we can give you some pointers.
Don’t worry if you haven’t put your finger on any creative marketing ideas yet. You can start with some of the following.
Brand storytelling aims to connect with customers and show the values and emotions behind the indifferent face of the company. You can talk about everything and in any format.
For example, make videos where your customers talk about how your product has helped them. Or make a series of posts on social media discussing the life and work of your employees. And not just the top managers: include ordinary engineers, marketers, janitors, etc.
Even if you just post stories, photos, or news about what your company is doing, customers will still connect emotionally.
Interactive content and gamification
At first glance, interactive content and customer engagement through games is a B2C marketing tool because business owners don't have time to play.
Oh, but there’s always time to play, just like there’s always room in your stomach for dessert. Just integrate gamification into your website, and you’ll see how much people will like it.
For example, a short multiple-choice quiz is a much more fun way to find out which product or service package a customer needs than comparing tables with features.
Website calculators are another option that helps clients figure out their budgets and attract leads at the same time.
Of course, the type and magnitude of gamification depend on your business and the website itself. You’re free to develop a full-fledged "hunt for discounts" in a game or limit yourself to infographics.
Social media marketing
Social media is a popular tool in B2C marketing, but can it be just as useful for B2B? Sure! Just choose the right content.
Companies are more likely to search for helpful content on social media rather than purely entertaining, so focus on that.
This doesn’t mean, however, that your posts shouldn’t have humor in them. Most LinkedIn users perceive this social network as a space for professional communication, but they still love to post memes.
Use the right hashtags, collaborate with business influencers, use storytelling and creative copywriting, post video reviews of your existing/new products and how to use them, or generally something educational for your customers.
You can also start a YouTube channel on the hottest topics in your industry. Your audience will be grateful and subscribe to your media. The result? Ka-ching!
Probably the simplest way to get user-generated content is to launch a contest. True, it’s easier to ask users to pose with your products when you’re a B2C company. But a B2B SaaS company, for instance, can ask users to get a snapshot of their home workspace with its software on the computer screen.
If the competition hits the audience, the campaign will generate leads, increase brand awareness, and emotionally bring customers closer to your company. And if it becomes a trend, you'll get free advertising from the media.
Just remember that users won’t go to great lengths if the prize is not worth it. A corporate mug? No-no-no. A 50 percent discount for a yearly plan? Yes-yes-yes!
B2B collaborations can be simple and inexpensive. For example, you can start an audio or video podcast. Tell listeners the secrets of your industry and invite managers from big-name companies for interviews. As a result, you and your guest get organic advertising and give your listeners valuable insights.
If you want something with a splash, you can team up with another company to hold an event — online or offline. This will help you get to know your audience better, acquire clients, and exchange experiences.
In some cases, partnerships are also an excellent marketing method that can bring you clients. For example, Hubspot provides training for integrators to its partners and offers their services to its customers. In return, the partners must sell Hubspot to their customers as integrators.
Checklists, templates, and decks
When you offer free e-books, checklists, how-to videos, templates, and other types of useful content, you show your clients that helping them get ahead is more important to you than making additional money. It’s for you to decide if you want their emails in return or not.
Resources that are free yet valuable make users feel good about your company. So a person who probably didn't know about your existence a couple of hours ago may soon be offering their boss to consider your product.
You’re welcome to choose among these creative marketing ideas or generate your own. But how do you know they actually work?
I mean, can you measure something as abstract as creativity? You can, and you should.
Here are some KPIs you might want to focus on to evaluate how creativity affects the success of your campaign and adjust your creative marketing strategy accordingly.
We’ll start with the most obvious one. Since the ultimate goal of every business is to make money, revenue is your primary success indicator. So don’t forget to add up everything that goes into developing a creative campaign, including regular meetings and overtime, to keep numbers straight.
Then, when it’s launched, it will be easier to see how much revenue returns from your creative campaign.
Social media reach
Do you actually see everything you see on social media, or are you just scrolling? Because skimming your ad won’t do the trick: you need to have people pause, pay attention, engage, click, like, and subscribe.
All this interaction is called social media reach, and you can evaluate it with built-in metrics or specific social media tools.
Client engagement comes together with social media reach. The more comments, shares, and likes your campaign gets, the better your customers respond emotionally to it. And a positive emotional response increases the chances of people buying your B2B offering.
But don’t think that “all press is good press.” When people start leaving "Boooo!" comments, reach out to them and hold meaningful, productive conversations. Bad reviews bring bad publicity and no sales.
You will know your campaign is a success when people start specifically searching for it themselves. You know, when they hear about this one hilarious video from friends and drop everything to find it? That’s what you should be aiming for.
Thanks to Google Analytics, measuring organic traffic on your websites is simple, so don’t forget to install it and use it regularly.
If a creative marketing campaign involves your website, it’s easy to see if your clients liked it by measuring site visits (hello again, Google Analytics!). If you take site visits from a previous period or campaign and compare them to the visits of this campaign, you’ll be able to see some patterns and figure out what works better.
And then, it’s time for your sales department to step in and help these site visitors become your customers. With a little help from Leadfeeder.
Conversions show you what percentage of your marketing efforts result in sales. The higher the conversion rate, the better the results of your creative marketing campaign.
I’d love to give you specific numbers, but a good conversion rate depends on the product, industry, and many other factors. The main thing you need to monitor is if your marketing efforts pay off.
See, there are various ways to measure campaign success, so mix them up for the best coverage. Only by combining several of them, you’ll see where problems lie. For example, if you get too little engagement, you’re most likely good at getting attention with headlines or photos but don't necessarily deliver value. Work on that next time.
Now that we’re almost done with our voyage, how about some inspiration from a couple of examples of B2B marketing?
An example is worth a thousand words…or something like that. Allow me to show you how these two B2B companies launched their creative marketing campaigns and why they worked.
Comics are not just for children!
Nobody likes to read long, confusing instructions. Cisco knows that, so it released the Cyber Threat Response comic to educate users and even offer job opportunities.
Instead of plain step-by-step instructions, the comic tells readers how to ensure the security of their data and how Cisco can help. The comic has five chapters already, which means the campaign keeps creating demand.
As a result, the comic generated more visits than a regular blog post, gave the company media attention, and increased the number of leads.
Why did it work?
The comic book is a great example of gamification. It's also an unexpected move, so even if you're not a comic fan, you'd probably rather look at pictures than datasheets.
Plus, the graphic novel caused an emotional response: nostalgia. Even the meanest head of the finance department used to read comics as a kid. Fine, he’ll give you the budget for those Cisco products you’ve been asking for.
Everyone loves presents for Christmas
Gong.io, a sales conversation intelligence platform, decided to make Christmas more fun for sales enthusiasts.
The company announced a giveaway of some of the greatest books on sale. To promote the giveaway,Gong.io’s employees recorded short videos explaining why each of those books was so important and how it helped them get better at sales.
And the best part was that all you had to do to participate was leave a comment. That’s all it took.
Why did it work?
Gong.io combined three approaches that evoke people's emotions. First, it told the personal stories of its employees. Secondly, it created a sense of excitement and competition. Thirdly, it shared free books.
And who doesn’t like getting presents on Christmas?
So creative marketing can be pretty simple and effective if you use your imagination and know your audience well enough.
While I’m mooring our metaphorical boat, repeat after me: creative marketing in B2B sales is a thing, and we should focus on it instead of boring old ads and old-school initiatives.
Just make sure to thoroughly study your customers to optimize and create content that will resonate with them. Emotions are no less important in B2B (unless the company is led by robots, which isn’t supposed to happen anytime soon).
Businesses don’t buy impulsively, so you must make an effort. Use different content formats, provide valuable resources to the audience, and educate your customers.
Respect, understanding customer needs, and a little humor are key in creative B2B marketing. But why am I telling you this? You can see that in dozens of successful B2B marketing campaigns yourself.
Note: And don’t forget to useLeadfeeder to collect valuable data on your clients and turn it into a rocking B2B marketing campaign.
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