News

B is for brave – why B2B marketing should never be bland

9th April 2024

We’ve all heard the stereotype that business-to-business marketing is corporate and serious. More suited and square than boldness laid bare. Nothing like the glamour, humour and heroism of its B2C counterpart.

Because there’s no place for great, inspiring creative when you’re dealing with engineering, manufacturing, technology or professional services, right?

Wrong. Wrong on all counts, in fact.

“…it’s as much human-to-human as it is business-to-business…”

Even B2B marketing is all about making the right connections with people. So it’s as much human-to-human as it is business-to-business (the reason we’re always reiterating the importance of a marketing mix that balances brand building with lead generation).

As an agency that provides B2B marketing services to a range of clients within manufacturing, financial services, legal, healthcare, and many more industries, we’re no stranger to finding creative, innovative ways to add allure to corporate, industrial and even technical communications.

It pays to be brave

Research shows that B2B marketing should be just as, if not more, eye-catching, quick-witted and creative as B2C. In a recent LinkedIn study 69% of B2B marketers agreed that B2B purchasing decisions are as emotionally driven as B2C, and 39% said they use storytelling, humour and emotion to help make their campaigns resonate with their audience.

“…80% of B2B customers expect to have a buying experience with the same level of personalisation as B2C marketing…”

In a 2023 study, 92% of CMOs ranked creativity a top priority. And it may seem obvious, but even in B2B marketing, our audiences are made up of people – the same emotionally driven decision-makers as B2C audiences. Sure, they might also be looking for stats, social proof, solutions to very specific problems, and metrics such as ROI. But that doesn’t take away the appeal of striking creative.

“…there’s nothing safe about the ‘sea of same’ B2B marketing channels can become…”

In fact, you could argue it’s even more important to consider the psychology behind your creative decision-making. There’s certainly makes a strong case for personalisation. In fact, according to 6Sense, 80% of B2B customers expect to have a buying experience with the same level of personalisation as B2C marketing.

The takeaway? Being brave can help you stand out from the competition. And it really does pay.

What makes B2B creative stand out?

Here are a few examples of clients we’ve worked with where we’ve used creative techniques to generate impressive ROI and results.

Daikin Sustainable Home Network

The world is on a race against time to reduce carbon emissions and limit the devastating effects of climate change.

Specialists in heating and cooling solutions, Daikin developed the Altherma heat pump as an alternative to fossil-fuel boilers – one with a significantly reduced environmental impact. To promote these benefits, the team needed a stand-out B2C campaign.

With a predominant focus on B2B products, Daikin had very little consumer presence in the UK and needed to persuade a broad audience to invest significantly more money to install a heat pump into their homes compared to a standard boiler.

We developed the Sustainable Home Network identity to align with Daikin’s renewable energy mission. We then created a multi-step, multi-platform campaign.

We developed an overarching message: ‘Be the energy for change” – the thread that ran throughout our persuasive ad campaign. At the heart of the creative was an aspirational vision of a comfortable, low-carbon lifestyle.

The campaign went to market on brochures, LinkedIn and social media advertising, national press and PR. We also developed a TV commercial, and Daikin even featured our designs on their fleet of installer vans.

The results?

The Energy for Change website attracted more than 216,000 visitors in three months

13,382 brochure downloads

1,887 requests for an Altherma heat pump to be installed

‍Phil Robinson, Creative Director:

“Great creative and B2B marketing aren’t always synonymous. We’re all so engrained in the traditional patterns of B2B thinking and speaking that creativity is often lost in the front-of-mind commercial arguments we’re inevitably drawn to.”

“But make no mistake – high-impact creative is essential if your B2B marketing is going to be effective. It’s the one sure-fire way to move hearts and minds.”

Epson Heat-Free Campaign

Known globally for its best-in-class printers and innovative office printing solutions, Epson needed a powerful brand campaign to promote the benefits of using Heat-Free printing technology.

Epson printers don’t require any heat in the ink ejection process, so they consume less energy. They provide improved performance, increased productivity and reduced environmental impact – which became the driving force behind our campaign.

We used cinematic shots of an Olympic skater to carve the key messaging from our campaign into beautiful ice forms. The powerful video content – paired with photography from Epson’s National Geographic collaboration – told the‘Heat-Free’ story beautifully.

The footage became the bedrock of our visuals, allowing us to draw emotive, evocative comparisons between the technology and its eco-credentials.

The results?

We saw 10% YoY growth in sales volume for the business unit from campaign launch.

Luke Waterman, Art Director:

“We work hard to create campaigns that stand out from the crowd. There’s no benefit to blending in – no reward for being professionally overlooked. But there should be a reward for the audience. So we aim to deliver the right visual cues that provoke an emotional response, be it humour, shock and awe, an empathic association, or simply aesthetic value – but (hopefully) it’s never vanilla.

“I think what we do well is to tailor our clients’ message to reflect the needs and interest of the audience, getting the visual look and feel just right to make marketing materials more relevant and interesting.”

Panasonic TOUGHBOOK

Panasonic TOUGHBOOK pioneered the rugged computing market. Its laptops, tablets and handheld devices are designed to withstand the harshest environments in a range of industries, from the military and emergency services, to manufacturing and industrials.

An already well-established brand, TOUGHBOOK wanted a campaign that resonated with its diverse target audiences. It needed to reach multiple sectors and countries, so being translatable was key.

And so TOUGH is’ was born.

The messaging was developed to empower and relate to both the key-workers using the products and the devices themselves.

We formed emotive headlines such as ‘TOUGH is staying strong in mission-critical moments’ and ‘TOUGH is being where you’re needed most’ that would evoke a sense of what it’s like to work in these rugged environments, as well as demonstrating exactly how impressive and robust the technology needs to be. High-octane, dramatic photography brought this vision and the words to life for a striking campaign.

We introduced Video Ask to track the enquiries that came through from the campaign and to engage the website traffic.

The results?

63% of people engaged with the Video Ask interface

43% of people answered at least one question

20% of people finished the journey and completed required action

Robbie Masters, Senior Copywriter:

“It’s a misconception that B2B marketing is dull. But actually it can get samey if businesses aren’t careful. Our clients are doing brilliant things, producing ingenious products, and having a positive impact on people’s lives every day.These are stories worth telling.

 “It’s our job to unearth those hidden gems, highlight the benefits and find creative ways to tell the brand’s story. Sometimes that’s more challenging than in consumer marketing, where the drivers are desire or aspiration. If anything, great B2B marketing can demand more creativity, more of a human touch, and more emotion – not less.” 

So next time you reach for the safe option – whether it’s the same-old image library, your slightly vanilla email template or an ultra-light-touch website refresh –consider being brave and trying something new.

Because there’s nothing safe about the sea of same B2B marketing channels can become.

If you need help bringing a creative spark to your B2B marketing, we’re just an email away. Get in touch at [email protected]

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About Proctor + Stevenson

Game-changing strategy, creative and technology that means more impact for your marketing. And more power to your business.

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