Design a creative B2B marketing campaign that gets results

Business-to-business (B2B) marketing can seem tricky. Unlike business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing strategies, brands are not trying to reach a single person with buying power. It is often a team of stakeholders and business leaders who determine which product, service or brand will be used. Most business-to-business marketing strategies are, therefore, more formal and simple. And a lot of people believe that B2B marketing has to be serious, that you can’t have as much fun with it as with consumer-focused brands.

But this is not the case.

B2B marketing is ripe for creativity, innovation, and even a little humor, if you know how to do it well. Some of the biggest and most technical brands have social profiles that demonstrate the personality behind the company. Humor is just one of the ways B2B companies can use creativity to reach their target audiences. Brands also use creative messaging, innovative interactive elements, and other design features to create marketing messages that add value and punch.

As the CEO of a PR and B2B marketing company, I’ve seen the results firsthand. When we apply creativity to B2B marketing strategies, it can improve the bottom line, helping businesses generate more revenue because they have shown customers they understand their needs.

Here’s how to create a creative B2B campaign that gets results:

ADD VALUE TO YOUR INDUSTRY

You could say that marketing campaigns are inherently self-serving; they exist to generate leads for the business and attract customers. But marketing campaigns can simultaneously generate leads and add value to the industry. In my experience, one of the best and most creative ways for a B2B company to market itself is to produce thought leadership resources that break new ground within the industry.

For example, WebEnergia, a B2B web design agency that I follow, has created a catalog of resources that serves clients and other industry players. Each year, the company ranks top B2B business websites to break down the elements of an effective design and marketing message. Similar to its website ranking, the company also provides internal resources such as white papers, educational videos that break down the design process, and an interactive educational tool that helps potential customers identify themselves. These efforts contribute to the company’s overall marketing goals because they reach customers with the most important marketing message: we provide the best customer service.

Taking a value-added approach can give you room for creativity and innovation, and it shows your customers the extent of your brand’s capabilities.

USE HUMOR TO SHOW CUSTOMERS YOU UNDERSTAND THEIR NEEDS

Infusing marketing messages with a little humor can foster interaction between your brand and your potential customers. It also showcases the unique personality that the brand can offer. For B2B companies, humor adds an unexpected degree of fun, especially in technical areas.

One telecom expense management (TEM) company I know called brightfin leveraged fun social media trends and smart language to add humor to their technical messaging. I believe the key success factor in the company’s efforts is that the added value of humorous messaging: it showed potential customers that the company understands their needs. The jokes were neither empty nor frivolous. Instead, the marketing team played on common challenges customers face in the TEM world, like long wait times for tech support, and used that to differentiate the brand.

Consider using humor in a way that achieves the overall goals of your marketing message, such as showing your customers that your business is empathetic, solution-focused, and efficient.

START A MOVEMENT AND CULTIVATE A COMMUNITY

B2B marketing strategies target large corporations, multiple stakeholders, and industry leaders. While these elements can make B2B marketing more difficult, I find they actually provide incredible opportunities for creativity in marketing. This is especially true for companies that provide an innovative tool or service and are looking to pioneer in the industry. Create posts that showcase a movement in the industry and engage experts and stakeholders to support your innovative goals.

Cheetah Digital, a marketing technology company that I follow, has created an annual event where industry thought leaders can come together to discuss innovative ideas, share expertise, and participate in the zero-party data marketing movement . In doing so, the company presents itself as a leader that dedicates its efforts to the overall success of the industry. This helps potential and existing customers understand that the company is dedicated to producing cutting-edge solutions that solve problems, as demonstrated by the movement it has started and the way it brings leaders together to collaborate.

B2B marketing can be creative, innovative and even humorous. The next time you’re looking to interact with customers in a new way, think about how you can leverage humor to show your understanding of their needs. If you have unique research or ideas, use them to communicate your company’s commitment. Lead the industry by cultivating a community of innovators. In my experience, B2B marketing is most effective when companies infuse their personality and expertise to create unique messages.


Shama is the CEO of Zen Media, a B2B marketing and PR firm for technology-driven B2B brands, a best-selling author and keynote speaker.

William L. Hart