There’s a deluge of great B2C campaigns, but examples of great B2B campaigns are hard to find. There is much to learn from B2C, isn’t there? Or perhaps B2B is just fundamentally different – budgets frequently are!
So why are good B2B examples hard to find? What does good look like in B2C and are the learnings truly translatable? Does creativity lay in the complexity or the simplicity of the execution? Is stand out harder or easier in the digital and social age? What’s reasonable to expect? And once done, how do you know if it was worth it? Above all, how can you achieve the greatest cut-through.
Despite some fundamental differences between B2B and B2C campaigns (building a relationship vs focused on a transaction) both are increasingly having something meaningful to say.
Adidas Runner 321 raises awareness of the challenges faced by neurodivergent athletes wishing to compete. Adidas want to make sure that the number 321 in marathons is now reserved for runners with Down Syndrome, encouraging greater representation and shaping a more inclusive future.
Dove’s ‘Turn your back’ campaign was launched in response to Tik Tok’s AI enhanced bold glamour filter, believing this reinforces damaging beauty stereotypes.
B2B campaigns tend not to have the budgets of Adidas or Dove, but they can still have something meaningful to say. Global management consultancy Baringa’s Economics of Kindness campaign explores the commercial value and benefits that kindness creates for business leaders. The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Join In campaign, shines a light on the positive impact that chemistry has on the world in a bid to encourage more people to get involved in making a difference.
Having something meaningful to say should be part of any successful campaign and will help build your relationship with your audience.
Perhaps the biggest difference between B2B and B2C is the larger budgets the latter garners. So, when B2B engages in marketing, there’s a tendency to ‘cram it all in’ and ‘get your money’s worth’. However, it’s usually more powerful to strip things back and create space – in the look and feel and for your message.
Dr Anders Hansen has opined about how technology is evolving quicker than our ability to process it. In fact, the Karolinska Institutet has determined that digital can impair engagement, and this is now influencing how children learn at school in Sweden. It follows that our most used marketing channel needs to be used in a manner that creates the headspace for people to engage. So, who’s done this well?
CALM’s ‘suicidal doesn’t always look suicidal’ campaign, BA’s ‘a British original’ campaign and The Trainline’s ‘I came by train’ campaign all use simple or no imagery, single-minded messaging and white space to pack a powerful punch. More detail is available, but it’s found on the website and not in the advertising.
The key messages should focus on the one thing you want your audience to remember above all, and embrace clean and simple layouts. That will however leave you nowhere to hide if you’ve nothing to say, it won’t be advisable to develop content on ChatGPT, and simple layouts demand a skilled designer.
There are many received wisdoms in the world of B2B marketing. Let’s debunk some of them. Inevitably some clients focus on the latest technological or digital advancement. There is much talk about the metaverse, but as a workable reality, it doesn’t yet exist – as Rob Mayhew amusingly reflects. Frequently clients will reject a message because they’re tired of it. But their audience won’t be. Accenture’s message ‘let there be change’ has driven the brand and all content for over 3 years. Sometimes clients maintain they have nothing to say in relation to thought leadership campaigns. However, influencers found enough to say about the $700 Dyson Airwrap to help sell $3.6bn of them in 2022. So B2B organisations can surely find something to say about their offers. We also hear that ‘people don’t read brochures any longer’. This simply isn’t true and organisations such as Nesta, the innovation agency for social good, serves up its thought leadership in multiple formats, as a quick look at its latest content demonstrates.
The key messages are that you’ll tire of your message far quicker than your audience will, serve up your messages in multiple formats to reflect how different people consume information – and what you sell will be much more interesting than a Dyson Airwrap!
Effective campaigns tend to have a mix of paid, owned, earned and shared channels working together. However, paid advertising often gets overlooked in B2B campaigns due to cost. But digital and data have changed the rules and made paid more affordable. Our online behaviour has given rise to programmatic advertising where campaigns seek to target the individual rather than the channel or media, cheaply and efficiently, opening new opportunities for B2B.
There are many companies that offer different approaches to programmatic advertising. Fifty harnesses user profile data from X (Twitter) to create tribes based on patterns of behaviour that allow for more targeted advertising. Mobsta uses mobile phone data and geolocation to serve content to defined audiences in defined locations. And Quantcast uses AI to build profiles of people who fulfil specific calls to action. All companies aim to serve content more efficiently to the target audience.
Media companies now have more knowledge and expertise to provide advice on how best to reach audiences as well as recommending which channels will make the best use of the creative developed. Paid advertising is now a more affordable option to make B2B campaigns more effective
Testing, learning and adapting your campaign based on performance effectiveness is an essential part of any successful B2B campaign. To do this, you need to create a set of measures. Try and create a broad set that go beyond social media and website performance and consider aspects such as how employees are helping to promote the campaign or how the copy and creative are performing. Establish a target for each based on past experience or typical B2B benchmarks. However, getting an accurate up-to-date benchmark can be a challenge as figures vary based on sector, objectives, target audience, potential reach and channel.
Next, create a dashboard that brings everything together and allows you to track performance. Meet regularly as a team and use the dashboard to understand what has been working well and less well. Think of different ways to improve the campaign, be it the creative, the copy, when to release content, or how to incentivise employees differently to promote the campaign, etc.
Measurement is often an after-thought, but it’s what drives ongoing campaign effectiveness and should be something considered at an early stage because what you measure may impact what you produce.
You may have decided to read this because you’re looking for a knockout creative idea that delivers stellar results. This last example does just this – but probably with bravery most B2B organisations won’t be able to muster. However, it also demonstrates, with humour and impact, if you can’t be brave, you need to be authentic. Take a look at the campaign from The Valuable 500.
In summary, B2B and B2C are different. B2B is undoubtedly more complex. But there are nevertheless valuable lessons to be learned.
We created a distinct campaign to stand out in a competitive and crowded marketplace.
How do we separate fact from fiction and where next for digital advertising, channels and media?
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