Think of the most creative marketing you’ve ever experienced. What brand first comes to mind? The odds are it is a business-to-consumer brand (B2C), not a business-to-business brand (B2B), but those odds need to change.
As the B2B audience is an organization rather than an individual, the sales cycle and commonly practiced marketing tactics differ between the two groups. However, in many instances, marketers miss the mark. Many believe B2B buyers are purely driven by logic and can only understand benefits, features, and results. In this misguided view, creativity only distracts, overcomplicates, and delegitimizes B2B marketing.
In truth, when brands are customer-centric and purpose-driven, creativity can captivate the attention of B2B buyers and elevate marketing performance. It is a mistake to believe B2B marketing can only be effective if it is boring.
In fact, a recent survey highlights the importance of changing the status quo. According to this study, nearly 50% of B2B decision-makers are bored by their marketing. 82.6% of the individuals surveyed wish that B2B marketing was more creative. 80.8% agreed that more inspired ads would positively influence their organizations purchasing decisions.
Anecdotal history supports the data. Creative advertisements have a proven track record of spreading awareness, evoking emotion, and generating results in the B2B sector without compromising clarity, credibility, or focus.
Fiverr ads, like its Superbowl spot “Opportunity Knocks,” which promote digital freelance services to other businesses, are some of the sector’s most imaginative. Whether inspiring people to find “doers” or highlighting the ease of “connections,” Fiverr’s ads tell clever, engaging stories across channels rather than plainly relay what the brand does. Fiverr’s business grew 77% during 2020.
Cisco showcased the power of its 5G mobile network with “Me+Moo,” an interactive campaign that allows users to track real-life cows wearing sensors through a mobile app for entertainment purposes. The playful tactics generated 11,000 signups in the first month.
These are just two of many examples of B2B brands activating creative strategies and executions to drive hard results. But why does creativity positively impact return on marketing spend in each of these cases?
Imagination not only makes brand messages engaging and generates awareness; it also creates positive associations with brands to influence their success. Neuroscience research proves that humans make purchasing decisions with the emotional side of their brain. There’s more to marketing than relaying information, and that applies to B2B audiences as well as B2C. Emotion affects decision-makers buying on behalf of organizations just as it affects individuals buying on behalf of themselves. But, benefits and features don’t impact emotion. Creative storytelling does.
It is critical that marketers and business owners understand that “creative” only works when it is done right. Here are a few actionable tips that can help ensure your creative B2B marketing is effective:
- Put your foundation first. Fight the urge to skip ahead to your creative execution and take the time to build your brand foundation first. Be sure your messaging is designed around your industry, aligned with your brand, and created with your target client or customer at heart. Never group all B2B buyers together.
- Balance creativity with clarity. The two concepts are seemingly at odds, but striking a balance between them is pivotal to your success. Creative advertising attracts. Clear messaging informs. Proven advantages sell. The communications that drive performance are a combination of all of the above.
- Remember creativity is originality. Don’t do what has been done. Dare to do “different.” Find insightful connections between concepts that others never could. Leverage the tension between outwardly conflicting ideas to capture attention. Uncover truths that aren’t commonly addressed, and highlight them to stand out from the boring crowd. Combine words in ways no one would expect. Create thumb-stopping designs that can only be described as novel. And don’t limit creativity to your marketing execution; activate alternative ways of thinking in your strategy to outthink the competition.
While the buyer’s journey between B2B and B2C audiences is different—science, history, and buyer research show that the audiences are not as different as some marketers believe. When it is clear, branded, and customer-driven—creative marketing does not damage B2B business credibility; it leverages expectations and employs emotions to generate engagement, awareness, and positive brand associations. Across sectors, creativity accelerates revenue and unlocks growth to propel brands forward.