The case for creativity in B2B
Creativity is defined as the use of imagination or original ideas to create something. So why are so many B2B marketers still shying away from it? Here’s why it’s crucial to be creative across the board.
First things first: there’s no such thing as B2B
Or B2C. It’s all just P2P—person to person. And people generally like interesting, exciting, unexpected things.
Historically, B2B marketers have played it safe. Low-risk campaigns are more likely to get the green light from clients who have multiple stakeholders and big targets to hit. They want to stand out from the competition, but, you know, not too much.
Thing is, they absolutely should. A survey of B2B stakeholders found that 71% of B2B customers want a B2C-like experience*. They want the quirky campaigns, the conversational tone of voice, the thought-out story. They want creativity.
Stop playing it safe
It’s a bit of a misconception that B2B should only speak to the rational part of the brain. C-Suites and business decision-makers aren’t robots; they have emotions, and great marketing needs to appeal to those emotions.
The tactics we see all over B2C aren’t exclusive to consumer marketing. Some of the best B2B campaigns capture the attention of the collective consciousness, not just business decision-makers.
Look at MailChimp, for instance. The email marketing platform has become much-loved thanks to its playful tone of voice, quirky illustrative style and totally bizarre ad campaigns (see ‘MailShrimp’ for a case in point). And as such, MailChimp has become one of the first brands people think of when it comes to direct mail. They pushed boundaries, found their niche, and blazed a trail to do things differently.
And there’s the crux of the issue. B2B doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, it can’t be boring if it’s to be effective. B2B customers aren’t looking for bland marketing. They’re just as eager to see some fresh, interesting content as your average consumer—maybe even more so. Which brings us full circle: it’s P2P, not B2B.
Make a difference by making it different
When there’s a sea of B2B marketing, doing something creative can be the difference between standing out and sinking in the mire. It’s about differentiating; showing customers that there’s some original thinking going on behind the scenes.
It’s not just about cutting through the noise either. Creating something out of the ordinary goes a long way towards increasing brand value. It gives a business a competitive edge, so customers look at them and think ‘There’s that exciting brand we’d love to work with’ rather than ‘There’s that brand doing the same thing we see everywhere else.’
So if a brand claims to be revolutionary, shouldn’t its marketing reflect that? The short answer is: yes. Every single piece of marketing that’s put out there should represent the essence of the brand. Just look at Apple. The tech company is the avant garde of seamless, brand-encompassing marketing. Everything from its website to its product packaging just screams Apple. When others went for more, Apple went for less—and it helped them stand out as immediately identifiable.
The moral of the story is: do something different. Stand out, be exciting, name your next campaign after a crustacean—whatever it is, roll with it. You never know where it might take you.
*B2B Customer Experience 2017 survey by Accenture Strategy