How to create a great B2B campaign

  • December 24, 2021
  • Reading time: 3 min

When we launched our series Behind B2B, we had high hopes for hard-hitting stories, inspirational journeys, and industry-insider anecdotes. Ten instalments later, we reckon we’ve achieved it. But we’ve also learnt a lot. 

We’ve discovered unconventional paths to entering the business of talking to businesses. We’ve learned the importance of creating your own luck – and we’ve seen exactly why B2B is supercharged right now.

But most important of all? We’ve got a really good steer on what makes a great B2B campaign. Our interviewees had a lot to say about the campaigns that grabbed their attention –  so here’s our round-up of the best of B2B, past and present.

Use data visualisation for impact

As marketers in the B2B world, we’re tasked with making the complex simple. To do this in an engaging, provocative way that tells a memorable story is a challenging feat.

Brian Macreadie, Head of Marketing for Addleshaw Goddard, said insurance company Hiscox did this particularly well. For a campaign aimed at protecting small businesses and entrepreneurs against the impacts of cyberattacks, Hiscox set up a digital billboard in Canary Wharf and connected it to the IT server of a small business. Every time there was a cyberattack on that server, the billboard flashed. 

Here’s what Brian said:

“You’d expect an attack now and again, but this billboard was flash flash flash flash flash. Incessant. It was a genius way of dramatising to small business owners; this is a real problem, happening to you right now, and yes you need cyber protection – but you also need insurance, because if the worst happens, it could tear your business to shreds. Campaigns that visualise a message in a really powerful way are often really strong.” 

CEO of Publicis Groupe UK Annette King, meanwhile, picked the ‘IBM Seer’ augmented reality app. The AR experience offered integrated information including real-time scores from each court and live BBC video streams from the top two courts, along with information on traffic outside the ground and queues at stands inside.

As Annette said:

There’s always such a blend of bold creative, clever uses of data, an appetite to try new things and the important, really nitty-gritty lead gen work. And that’s a key thing for B2B marketers to remember; to combine those two strengths. 

Make people smile

A recent report published in the Journal of Communications found that information had higher chances of being “both remembered and shared if the content made the participant giggle.” (Which I can definitely get behind – we’re the business that ran Tinder for Cows, after all.) 

It’s no wonder then that these two campaigns came to mind when we asked interviewees what their favourite campaigns were. 

B2B bravery advocate Mark Choueke recalled a tongue-in-cheek campaign by Upwork, a platform that connects businesses with freelancers, independent talent, and agencies around the globe. ‘Hey World’ targeted well-known figures, pointing out their need for a freelancer. ‘Hey, Mr President (Trump) – need a social media strategist?’ Or ‘Hey, Amazon – need any help selling literally everything?’

Mark commented:

“It’s a beautifully simple idea, demonstrating all the ways Upwork’s freelancers can add value. But the execution was great. Really stunning art direction pointed but not too aggressive, a bit edgy. And it was brave because it took the mick out of important people. Trump, Amazon, Elon Musk – those are big bears to poke at, but they did it well. They created relevancy, they made people smile. Upwork might have been a company you’d never heard of, but you’d certainly remember them after that.” 

Tyrona Heath, Global Lead The B2B Institute @LinkedIn, said the Adobe video Click, Baby, Click was “ridiculous” and “memorable”. 

“I love it! I’m so glad we’re seeing more humour in B2B, more emotional messaging, more creativity. Things are definitely trending more towards the territory that B2C has traditionally owned.” 

Add some drama 

For issues that maybe don’t get talked about enough, a little spectacle never goes amiss. Some brands have been able to do this innovatively, driving their central message home in memorable ways. 

Annabel Venner, global marketing expert, recalls an exhibition display she was part of organising for Hiscox. The goal was to get brokers talking a different way. 

“We stripped out a grand piano, painted it scarlet, and hung it above our booth, against a backdrop that said: IF ONLY ALL RISKS WERE THIS OBVIOUS. Nobody had ever done anything like that before. It attracted attention because nobody could believe we had done it. And that’s that sort of brave and courageous work that every marketer at Hiscox was encouraged to do.

Joel Harrison, founder and editor-in-chief of the globally acclaimed B2B Marketing, pointed to Volvo’s ‘The Epic Split’ when asked what he thought the best campaign of all time was.

“Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits, Enya warbling away in the background. It showed you could do B2B advertising that’s as showstopping, funny and memorable as anything in B2C. It’s iconic.”

So there you have it – as declared by some of the smartest people in B2B. Make data visual, be funny, and add some drama… and you might just find yourself with an award-winning B2B campaign. 

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