Last week I sat on an investor panel where super smart entrepreneurs presented their scaling start-ups, in the hope of securing additional funding. My role was to grill them on their sales and marketing plans before they were unleashed to the venture funds.
I was utterly blown away by their business ideas, their charisma and passion, the sacrifices they had made to get to where they got to. Their ability to understand how their offering met an untapped consumer need. The ingenious technology stacks they were deploying to build agile operations and speed to market.
There was much to applaud.
But I did come away feeling less impressed by their lack of thinking around marketing. And their inability to bottle all of their enthusiasm and passion into a well-honed brand narrative. Their marketing approach was thin and functional at times badly thought through and heavily reliant on rationale product messages. I was reminded by something Les Binet or Peter Field had said in their report published by LinkedIN 2021 – “that humanity must not be lost in a tech obsessed world”.
It made me think – why b2b brands need to market more like consumer brands.
To thrive in the new age of b2b, marketers must understand creative effectiveness. Now recognised as one of the essential growth drivers for b2c, creative effectiveness is recognised too as an essential b2b growth driver.
So often B2B marketing is seen as the poor relation of consumer marketing, yet the two have a lot more in common than most people think. It’s a fallacy to believe that businesspeople park their emotions and personality when they come to work. In fact, the way people interact with B2B brands is incredibly similar to how they engage with B2C brands. This means creativity, storytelling and long-term brand building are just as important as value proposition, product features and price to break through the noise and drive real business value.
According to Binet and Field, “There are huge similarities between B2B and B2C when it comes to brand but many B2B marketers need to revise their approach,” says Field. “Brands need a creative storytelling element because it is not enough to rely solely on rational product messaging. There has to be clear differentiation and a narrative that taps into business buyers’ emotions.” People buy from people so its crucial b2b brands can find their narrative hook.
So if one area that does need to change is that B2B marketers need to become more confident about sharing their stories and differentiating themselves what other areas can b2b marketers learn from their b2c counterparts?
With the inaugural B2B lions having launched at the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the opportunity now is to create a movement in B2b by closing the gap between good enough and great creative ideas. This movement requires an actionable methodology to clime the b2b effectiveness ladder. Enter the Big Long Idea, developed by Stein IAS, the BLI provides the industry with a much needed approach to leverage the b2b effectiveness ladder and raise the creative bar. This superb reports provides principles, methodologies and check lists to help build a culture and a rigour around b2b effectiveness.
Here are some of the takeaways:
- A transformation is underway:
Creativity is the new alpha! Creative effectiveness is now recognised as one of the essential B2B growth drivers. And B2B marketers are responding with better and more creative work. But even better and ever more creative work delivered more consistently is the end game.
- Creative effectiveness needs creative culture
70% of change programs fail according to Mc Kinsey. Yet, when people are truly invested, change is much more likely to stick. Developing and sustaining a creative culture is a necessity for sustained creative effectiveness and for delivering Big Long ideas as a matter of course.
- Creative commitment makes BLI’s stick.
Similarly, Big Long Ideas won’t stick if 95% of B2B brands remain focused on short – term low commitment campaigns. Without comment, brands will miss an enormous opportunity during b2b’s golden age to make creative effectiveness the new competitive advantage.
- The B2B Effectiveness Ladder is the “What and the Why”. The BLI is the “How”.
The golden age of B2b shines brightest for brands smart and brand enough to leverage the cumulative power of the Big Long Idea Principles and make the appropriate level of investment to scale the Effectiveness Ladder.