The B2B Creative Revolution You’re Likely Ignoring
Marketing is all about capturing attention. And when it comes to capturing attention, creativity is the best way to get there. But after 20+ years of leading creative for a multitude of audiences, I had to ask myself a question: Where’s the love for B2B? Why is it often considered “less than” B2C? I pour the same level of thought, effort, and imagination into my B2B projects as any sexy consumer-facing campaign. Because as the world continues to evolve, so do the expectations of the consumers walking around on it. That means no matter the context, people expect great creative—even if that person happens to work in B2B. Let’s dive into the why, how, and where we can go from here.
Battling The B2B Buying Process
One factor that contributes to the perception of B2B creativity being less creative is the complexity of the B2B buying process. Where B2C transactions are driven by personal preferences and an emotional connection to the brand, B2B transactions are often based on rational decision-making processes involving multiple stakeholders. This complexity poses a challenge for B2B marketers, as they need to communicate the value and benefits of their products or services in a way that resonates with different decision-makers. This focus on logic can sometimes overshadow the creative elements of B2B marketing, leading to the perception that it is not as innovative or imaginative as its B2C counterpart.
Playing The Long-Game with Customers
Unlike B2C transactions, which can often be impulsive and spur-of-the-moment, B2B sales cycles are typically longer and involve building relationships with customers over time. This longer sales cycle necessitates a different approach to creativity. Rather than relying solely on flashy advertisements or catchy slogans, B2B marketers need to focus on building trust, credibility, and thought leadership. This emphasis on relationship-building and long-term value can sometimes be perceived as less creative compared to the immediate impact and excitement generated by B2C marketing campaigns.
The Path Forward? Tell Your Story
While it’s true that B2C audiences are in a completely different state of mind as B2B audiences, we can still use the same conventions to get their attention. Call it a customer journey, a contact strategy, or any other framework for reaching our customers with the right message at the right time—a compelling story will always attract an audience. And a story designed with B2B value will always attract a B2B audience. Let’s break it down further:
Program Identity Matters
The more B2B brands focus on the value and information of their offering, the less memorable their content becomes. To be clear, you should still be building your marketing efforts around your value propositions—but that is simply your foundation. You still need to dress up that value prop in a way that is compelling and consistent. Think of your long sales cycle as a long-tail B2C customer journey, where every engagement with your audience should “look and feel” like the next chapter of their story.
Turn In Your Older Vehicles
While there are best practices and industry standards, there are no rules on how you can reach a B2B audience. You can replace your email nurture campaign with splashy LinkedIn ads. Your downloadable whitepapers can be personalized microsites. Or what about that one-pager leave-behind your sales team has been leveraging? Can that be an animated explainer video? Creativity isn’t just about the content itself. It should be factored into the entirety of the experience.
Don’t Forget About Sales
We mentioned the longer sales cycles tied to the B2B buying journey, but how can this be used to your advantage? Bringing sales teams into a more collaborative role allows you to tap into their real-world sales conversations, refine your messaging, and ensure your efforts are supporting the larger goals of your campaign. Working closely with sales means working closely with the answers to your marketing questions.
While there may be a perception that B2B creativity is not as innovative or imaginative as B2C creativity, it is important to recognize the unique challenges that B2B marketers face. The emphasis on delivering information, the complexity of the buying process, and the need for relationship-building all contribute to a different approach to creativity in B2B marketing. By understanding and embracing these challenges, B2B marketers can find new and innovative ways to captivate their audience and drive business success. Remember, B2B and B2C buyers have one thing in common, they are people. 😊