Why should B2C have all the fun?
Like the end of a classic 90s film, it’s time for B2B marketing to take off its glasses, let its hair down, and show everyone what they’ve been missing this whole time.
Because the truth is, B2B can be bold. Inspiring. Whisper it: exciting.
How can we make sure we keep up with the best of B2C, more of the time?
Hey, what’s the Big Idea?
I’m not talking about fireworks. Clever animations. Expensive bells and whistles – impressive though they all are. It’s just about what old-school “mad men” used to call a Big Idea.
Look at Ronseal. Not the most exciting product, no elaborate ad shampoo-science-bit and tearjerking Lily Allen soundtrack. Just a big, simple idea, that stuck in the mind of pretty much everyone looking for something to protect their fence.
The annoying opera singer. The meerkat. Barry Scott. You know the brands, just from a couple of words. Now, imagine a world of B2B campaigns you could say that about.
All Volvo’s “Epic Split” ad needed was Jean-Claude Van Damme, a pair of trucks… oh, and a LOT of planning. You’ve seen it. You’ve shared it. You’ve talked about it. Far more than that expensive Coors advert with the same star.
Yep. That’s a B2B campaign. Outperforming one for beer. Why? You guessed it.
The three steps
B2B buyers, influencers and stakeholders are all – every single one of them – human. They respond to emotions just like the public, because they are the public.
So, what’s to be done?
1. Take time to think it over
Everyone dreams of a giant budget, with a couple of extra zeroes at the right end. But budgets aren’t the be-all-and-end-all. Time is key. If you don’t spend enough time thinking how to do a project justice, all the money in the world won’t make it sing.
2. Be open-minded
As an agency, it’s daunting to sell a bold approach – but it’s nothing compared to the client who then has to sell a ‘risk’ to colleagues. A great agency doesn’t just find the right creative vision; it inspires, empowers and equips the client to explain the idea to potentially sceptical colleagues.
Likewise, clients need to be ready to hear bold, surprising and even initially unwelcome ideas. If your agency’s telling you something difficult, you know they’ve agonised over it. So they must have a pretty strong reason.
But whether you’re talking to internal or external customers, loving your idea is not enough. You need to know how to explain it to your audience – and to do it from their point of view. Before they can catch your vision, they need to understand it, and know what it means for them.
3. Use the whole agency
This is something we believe in strongly at MOI. We have a whole team with all sorts of strengths, so why would we just rely on the creative team to deliver?
Everyone brings their own perspective on emerging opportunities, the state of the industry, the customer’s needs. Some of the best insights come from unexpected sources.
Get all the creative ideas out and have everyone asking questions. Establish which ones are potentially impactful, and underpinned with sound reasoning too. Figure out what results they might bring and if they need to be pushed further or reined in.
Seize the moment
This isn’t a big, emotional plea to run silly, big-budget campaigns and hang the consequences. This is good, simple marketing advice.
After all, we’re swimming in content just now. It’s hard to stand out. If ever there was a moment when a B2B brand that steps up and gets truly bold and creative can really get itself noticed, this is it.
If you can surprise the buyer… delight them… inspire them…. make them laugh, even… then every piece of marketing content works that much harder for you. And that’s when a decent ROI turns into a great one.
Yes, being more creative in B2B feels like a risk. But the biggest risk is that your competitor will do it first.