April 1, 2021

Marketing for Humans: The Fun, Wacky, and Wondrous Side of B2B Marketing

By Nova Halliwell

Our CONNECTED session, Marketing for Humans: The Fun, Wacky, and Wondrous Side of B2B Marketing kicked off with an icebreaker: What’s your all-time favorite ad campaign?

The speakers shared some great examples—from Apple’s category-defining iPod “Silhouette” ad to Twix’s Right vs. Left campaign. If I had to share my favorite, it would be Levi’s “Circles” spot, an infectious dance-anthem that showcases different cultures around the world in moments of celebration. Watching it today, one year into the pandemic, the spot doesn’t just get my feet tapping. It leaves me with a sense of nostalgia—for travel, dance parties, even pants!

When you think of your favorite campaigns, chances are you will conjure something similar: An ad that is fun, unique, and evokes emotion, be it laughter or longing. In the marketing world we call that a human-to-human connection—and it’s a concept that consumer brands like Apple, Twix, and Levi’s live by.

In the B2B world, however, less emphasis is placed on emotion. These brands solve “serious problems” and tend to communicate on a “serious level.” But should they? In this post, we explore some of the key takeaways from our CONNECTED session and share tips about how, why, and when brands can be more creative, fun, and human in their B2B campaigns.

4 Ways B2B Brands Can Infuse Creativity and Humor into Their Campaigns

1. Beware the Cost of ‘Playing it Safe.’

Most B2B brands understand the value of standing out—but far fewer are willing to be different for fear of alienating customers, prospects, partners, or other stakeholders.

“You can’t make everyone happy,” says Gong Sr. Director of Marketing Sheena Badani. “Whether you’re super buttoned up or off the wall, not everyone is going to like it. It’s important to create campaigns that revolve around solving problems in a way that aligns to your organization’s brand, voice, and culture.”

Sendoso Director of Corporate Marketing Brianna Valleskey, also advises listeners to keep in mind the potential downside of playing it safe. “If you have a boring, run-of-the-mill campaign, then you actually might be alienating potential buyers who are looking for that spark.”

2. Focus on the Pain, Not the Gain.

In many B2B campaigns, the brand goes straight to the value prop. Generally speaking, there’s not much room for humor or creativity if the campaign is hyper-focused on the solution.

“If you want to start experimenting with more humor-based content, try focusing on the pain your prospects and customers are experiencing as opposed to the gains you’re trying to promote,” said Vidyard VP of Marketing Tyler Lessard.

3. Create Diverse and Integrated Teams from the Get-Go.

Creative ideas can come from anyone at any time, which is why it’s so important to create diverse and integrated teams from the very start.

“Bringing in the folks from the creative side during the ideation process is a really critical component that many B2B marketing teams don’t fully embrace,” said Tyler. “Have them in the room from day one, to help the team ideate and brainstorm.”

“There’s value in having a diverse team,” agrees Sheena. “At Gong, we have dancers, musicians, people who have lived in other countries. Bringing in that range of perspectives directly contributes to creativity.”

4. Be Curious.

To be curious is to be creative. And being creative doesn’t have to be a complex process.

“Asking yourself the ‘simple’ questions may help you put things together in a way that is inspiring, interesting, and relevant,” said Ceros Director of Digital Marketing Alex Kelly.

Again, by focusing on the problem your brand is trying to solve—how and why it manifests in their business—may be the best way to reach customers.

Measuring Success: Thinking Beyond Quarterly Numbers

Being more creative in B2B campaigns requires more than just changing the content of the ad. Many organizations must also reconsider how they look at success, getting away from so-called “spreadsheet marketing” and focusing on building long-term brand affinity.

“Many B2B marketers are not incentivized to support creative campaigns,” said Alex. “They’re looking at this quarter’s numbers as opposed to the emotional impact of a campaign. It’s important to consider how today’s sales and marketing efforts will define the brand and drive it forward two, three, or five years from now.”

Want more details about how to infuse creativity within your B2B campaigns? Watch our CONNECTED session and schedule a Sendoso demo to learn how your business can leverage personalized sends to drive human-to-human connection.

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