It’s not B2B creativity, it’s just creativity

How to flex your creative muscle in B2B comms

According to the LinkedIn B2B Benchmarking Report, creativity’s now the most important skill for marketers. So, why aren’t boring, faceless B2B campaigns a thing of the past?

It’s probably got something to do with the misconceptions around creativity in B2B – that it costs a fortune, doesn’t pay off, and that B2B buyers want an emotionless experience. But the data’s disproven these theories – you only have to look at the incredible Cannes Lions winners to see the power of emotion and storytelling in this space.

We pulled some creativity experts into a virtual room to discuss how to catch eyes and deliver results through the power of creativity. Keep reading for their intel from our most recent webinar.

“Don’t think of it as B2B creativity, it’s just creativity.”

Fiona Goldsworthy, Managing Director, Business & Technology, Brands2Life

So, what’s being done wrong when it comes to B2B creativity?

Thinking B2B isn’t emotional

Stereotypes around B2B buying paint it as emotionless. But Global Head of Content, Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn, Steve Kearns and his team “have data that shows B2B buying decisions are actually much more emotional than consumer buying decisions”. Why? Because the stakes are higher. B2B decision-makers are putting their reputations on the line when they choose a product. Set against this backdrop, emotive creative can be powerful.

“There’s this misconception that people put on their B2B buying hat and all of a sudden don’t want to laugh, don’t want to feel, don’t want to associate on a more emotional or visceral level.”

Steve Kearns, Global Head of Content, Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn

Too much focus on the product

Something we see all too often in B2B: focusing on the product instead of the problem. Overwhelming your audience with a paragraph of jargon about your product’s functionalities, isn’t going to cut it. Instead, relate to them creatively, leaning on storytelling, emotion, and anecdotes. Once you’ve built that relationship with your audience, there’s a time and place to talk product, but it shouldn’t be your entire comms strategy.

“In B2B you can get so hung up on the product…on the tech specs… why version 5 is x% faster than version 4… that you forget about the actual problem and what it really means to people.”

Patrick Yiu, Content & Channels Lead, Vodafone Group

Overestimating the ask and cost

Our panel of experts agreed there’s a tendency to think creativity comes with a big bill. But that’s not always the case. In fact, creativity doesn’t need to come with a huge price tag, big production, and celebrity endorsement.

When you boil it down, creativity’s about ideas – not the size of your budget. It’s about getting out of your comfort zone of tried-and-tested approaches, and making your audience feel something. Steve Vinall, Global Brand and Communications, Bynder, shared an example. His team wanted to be the first to hire an AI employee – and that’s exactly what they did. They interviewed different (free) AI tools, set them up in Slack, and worked with them for 24 hours. Innovative, inexpensive, and from idea to reality in just three days.

“Creativity for me, is about an idea… a resonating idea you can deliver and activate on… you may be able to turn that around in an afternoon.”

 Steve Vinall, Director, Global Brand and Communications, Bynder

And, what are our top three tips for doing it right?

Emotion and storytelling

Move over B2B, it’s all about H2H (human-to-human). Our MD of Digital, Social and Influencer and webinar host, Kinda Jackson, said it loud and clear: “brands can’t be these faceless entities anymore”. The success we’ve seen through our clients’ exec social programmes proves this – people want to see the faces behind a brand. They want to be spoken to in everyday language that acknowledges them as humans, with real emotions. The numbers speak for themselves; Steve Kearns, Global Head of Content, Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn shared that LinkedIn campaigns that use emotion see 44% higher click-through rates than those that don’t.

A clear sense of (brand) self

Stefan Lundin, Manager, Global Editorial Planning, Tetra Pak, nodded to the importance of knowing who you are as a brand: who you are in your community, how they see you, and what you bring to the table.

“You can start to communicate, with a personality… to go the creative route is normally a longer-term game. They’re higher in the funnel and it can be harder to justify your investment because it’ll take longer to see it.”

Stefan Lundin, Manager, Global Editorial Planning, Tetra Pak

It’s not always about going big

Playing with different formats is a great way to up the creativity of your campaigns. Think videos, carousels, podcasts, articles, flipbooks, stories, the list really is endless and evergrowing.

Content & Channels Lead at Vodafone Group, Patrick Yiu and his team use Google Web Stories – which act similarly to Instagram Stories – but instead combine text, video, polls, etc., in a mobile-first web browser. “At its heart it might be the same story that two years ago we’d have written in an 800-word article, a case study or a white paper, but it just brings it to life in a different way.”

Being creative doesn’t have to mean spending huge amounts of money on outlandish ideas, it just takes stepping out of your comfort zone. And it’s been proven to deliver results, which is why we think every B2B brand should focus on it in the year ahead. In Kinda’s words, “it’s here to stay”.

If you’re curious how Brands2Life can help you channel your brand’s creativity, get in touch with Kinda at [email protected]