There is a common misunderstanding about marketing: Anything bright, fun, attractive is B2C, whereas B2B gets only dull, opaque, boring ones. This is so wrong and unfair! B2B marketing materials and contents need to attract attention as much as B2C ones. And B2B is not a world of dark suits and serious faces. While planning marketing materials, we should always remember that we still need to impress humans, because it is the humans who decide on business purchases as well. B2B marketing, especially on digital channels, can be both effective and enjoyable once you set the ground rules from the start.
As one can easily understand from the title of the article, I am a Pink Floyd fan and I share the band’s view on how horrible it is to shackle imagination and ideas! The lyrics of the song “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2” mainly focuses on the stereotyping in the education system. Starting from kindergarten, children are mostly encouraged to draw the same pictures, read the same books, play the same games. There is mostly no room for change or creativity in the curricula. Extraordinary thoughts face severe sarcasm and thoughts are most of the time under control. The result is a world full of adults with similar tastes, similar opinions, similar bricks building the same wall.
You can encounter this wall in business life, too. Of course, there are certain, proven, and scientific methods of doing business. However, this does not mean we should ignore creativity. We need differentiation, some charm, and fun. Even in B2B marketing!
Although many people claim there are boundaries that limit marketing materials in B2B, I strongly defend the opposite and boldly claim that B2B contents and materials can be creative, colorful, and fun, without ever damaging corporate identities of businesses. As you will see, I can prove my point with several examples, as well.
1. The problem of dullness in B2B marketing
It may seem like all the fun stuff is in B2C marketing alone. This is not true! Plus, the dullness that we see around is not the fault of B2B marketing processes, but that of marketers. There is still, even in this era, a rigid idea that when commercial relations between two businesses are concerned, we should all wear suits and have a frown on our faces. Business is not dull, and B2B marketing should not be dull, either.
We live in an age of thriving digital possibilities, which are not exclusive to any specific marketing practice. For instance, colorful online advertisements or cheerful messages are not and should not be limited to consumer-oriented brands. All we need is to think out-of-the-box and add some creativity to B2B marketing!
2. B2B marketing needs some fun and color
While working on marketing strategies and plans, it is a common practice to create a persona or multiple personas to identify the qualities of target audience. Personas guide marketing teams in finding the right messages and channels.
How about B2B? Imagine an IT company that sells technology products to businesses. Who makes purchasing decisions? Robots? Sorry, but no! Decisions are made by an individual or a few individuals in the company. That is why we need to focus on human ambitions, goals, feelings, likes and dislikes in B2B marketing as well. Once we have the persona, we can design colorful and lively digital marketing tools for business, too. Just as Slack did in its customer testimonial with Sandwich Video.
3. Taking human factor into consideration
Of course, creating the persona is not enough. We need to reach the target audience with the right messages, which takes us to the content preparation stage. Content is mostly considered to be informative or entertaining, and according to general opinion, informative means boring and entertaining means light. I strongly object! The golden rule of perfect content is blending informative and entertaining materials in a way that touches people or relate to them. Information does not have to be dry and entertaining content is certainly not weak.
Obviously, every business has its own tone of voice, corporate identity, and key wordings. However, it is possible to be interesting, emotional, and alluring without damaging the identity of the brand. Remember the amazing SAP commercials featuring Clive Owen? The ones that say "Turn Thinking into Doing" and "We Have Got a Problem". These commercials represent amazing examples of corporate creativity.
4. Importance of interesting content
B2B businesses are mostly not happy with their social media interactions. Often, the reason for this disappointment is failing to convey the right message via the right media. Whether sponsored or organic, content and design for channels such as Instagram and Twitter are not and should not be the same.
First of all, digital marketing teams need to understand and analyze the target audience and the presence of this audience in the social media. What media do they use the most? Is LinkedIn the only option to reach them? What creative content can be produced to reach the audience through other social media channels? These questions are worth taking into consideration. To understand where the answers may take you, have a look at Zoom’s video content.
5. Finding the right message and the right channel
According to estimates, an average person is exposed to 6 to 10 thousand ads on a single day. These ads can be outdoor, print, audio, or online. (Plus, there are ads that periodically interrupt video contents that we are watching. A true annoyance!) When a B2B company does not choose the right tone, right content, right medium, and fails to sprinkle some creativity into the work, it is impossible to differentiate among this hurricane of ads and contents that attacks us like a radioactive cloud.
When we are trapped within this cloud, it is really hard to come across content that really differs from others. Every company promises success to businesses, has the best teams ever, offers the most exquisite service, or ranks the highest in the the bla-bla list. Not only the messages, but also visual elements are alike. I am not saying that special photo or video shootings should be made for each campaign or that special graphics should be designed. However, there are millions of options in stock photos and videos. Why insist on using the same ones over and over again? The digital world offers countless opportunities for content. Why do businesses keep navigating through the well-known waters? There is room for creativity in unchartered seas. Sometimes, even a backstage video can create the difference a business wants and conveys the motto in an unforgettable way.
6. Making a difference in B2B marketing
To sum up, let me go back to the song. Any B2B marketing content, design, or campaign is destined to be nothing but ordinary unless it:
- targets human beings (not robots)
- adds some spice to cheer the material up
- gives the receiver a feeling of closeness
- enables differentiation and personalization
- knows the right (cool and even fun) message to give at the right time, to the right target, via the right channel.
So why be just another brick in the wall when we have so many tools at hand and such bright ideas?