When it comes to B2B marketing it can feel like there’s an unwritten code of ethics preventing companies from really trying to express who they are.
Content often takes the simple form of: we’re good at what we do, so use us. Industry jargon is assumed to be impressive. Personality is left at the door in order to make a smooth, logical business transaction and to avoid any potential awkwardness. Pros and cons are weighed up, and it’s not necessary to complicate things. We have or do this – buy it, maybe?
In reality, the content you produce to market your business should always be the communication of a personality. This is possible even if your business provides services that don’t seem to add much joy to the universe (later on we’ll be looking at the marketing efforts of a solder paste manufacturer. Exciting!). It should also be noted that a personality is distinct from a persona – one is real and has depth, the other isn’t and hasn’t.
In the B2C content marketing world we’re at the point now where anything goes. You can point out your product is unsophisticated or unethical and, if done right, enjoy a marvellous ROI. In order to prove that B2B content can be just as fun and interesting as B2C, we’re going to run through some examples and see how they’ve pulled it off.
Okay, IBM is huge and has resources that most companies can only dream of. However, they do B2B content extremely well and it’s their attitude to the content they produce that we can all learn from. Their Ninjas vs Superbugs campaign feels like B2C content, but IBM is primarily B2B focused, and this campaign is designed to draw attention to their research division. It’s light-hearted, easily understood, fun and very well executed, and somehow communicates the personality of one of the largest and most complex brands in the world – a thinking company with a philanthropic streak, who, as a little side project when not selling technology, are trying to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems.
Indium Corp is a fantastic example of where a good sense of humour can get you in B2B marketing. The company develops and manufactures materials used in the electronics industry, so you’d be forgiven for assuming their marketing content would take the usual form of – you need this, we make it and do a good job, so perhaps let’s work together. Not so. Since 2007 Indium Corp have been making content like this:
Subsequently they have become well known for being a company doing fun and innovative marketing in an industry without much… pizzazz. Not only is Indium’s marketing strategy infused with a sense of humour, it’s also smart. Instead of spending huge amounts on sales, Indium, led by Director of Marketing Communications Rick Short, targets potential customers through social media, blogs and videos like the one above, cutting costs and adding a more personal element to their B2B content resulting in more customers – as well as some impressive awards for the marketing itself.
Sometimes what’s happening in the world of film and television can create opportunities for interesting and effective B2B marketing. SunGard, a provider of IT services including disaster recovery, saw the popularity of The Walking Dead and the upcoming film World War Z and turned them into a way of producing content. The messaging was kicked off by an email campaign featuring a digital manual on their disaster recovery and cloud products, both of which were explained through their similarity to surviving a zombie apocalypse. The content was original, memorable and played into pop culture enjoyed by huge portions of the population. SunGard’s email campaign was reinforced by a direct mail campaign with ‘zombie survival pack’ giveaways, and the viral quality of their content was utilised in a social media campaign resulting in more than 2,000 shares. Their efforts resulted in exceeding download rates by 300%, a 5.7% email open rate and more than 20 leads.
According to many people the golden age of television is upon us. Kinaxis, a Canadian supplier of supply chain and sales and opportunities planning (S&OP) services, have made their offering with a six-part comedy series, with genuinely funny short films illustrating the links between human connections and the connections offered by their products. The beauty of the films is that they don’t feel like advertising. They feel more like an earnest attempt to make their audience laugh, something that is always valued and will always garner attention. The films benefit from shareability, make for excellent social media content and demonstrate what can be done when your marketing department is really ambitious when it comes to producing content.
Last and certainly not least, this rather charming piece of video content from Australian energy company Epuron. Funny, clever and authentic content like this creates intrigue around the company behind it, as well as scope for viral and social media trends. It’s no coincidence that it feels more like B2C content than B2B – marketers are realising that the same risks can be taken with B2B content, and these risks can generate similar rewards. Not everyone is going to enjoy videos like this – some people just want a no nonsense approach when it comes to B2B relationships. Content like this results in like-minded companies and individuals working together, with obvious long-term benefits.
The success of these campaigns tells us that B2B content doesn’t have to be boring. Thinking like a B2C marketer and communicating a personality as well as information makes for memorable campaigns that get people talking about your company – which, at the end of day, results in more sales. So next time you’re creating B2B content, think creatively, think in terms of individual personalities, and, above all – don’t be boring.