Over the weekend I was talking to a couple of friends about an idea from a B2B brand. Over the weekend, and to friends! How many B2B ideas have genuinely interested you – and potentially your peers – to the point where they are worth talking about in the pub? And yet such compelling ideas are the future of marketing – including B2B.
Yesterday, I had a meeting with a group of psychologists we work with. They are being approached more and more by B2B businesses to test out their ideas and make sure that they resonate with the right people. Their approach goes far beyond a Mad Men-style focus group, to monitoring sub-conscious reactions and bias in the B2B buying process.
We’ve recently started working with change consultants The Storytellers, who help leaders connect with their employees at that emotional level. They too have seen a real uplift in boards wanting to create a human connection as this is the most effective way of reducing resistance to change when their people are central to realising strategic imperatives.
Increasingly, as work and personal lives blur, marketers are seeing that they need to create ideas that elicit an emotional reaction, not just a rational response in a work context. Our latest research on creativity in B2B finds that two thirds (65%) of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) know this, believing that making an emotional connection with audiences will be critical to the success of marketing initiatives. Four in five (83%) CMOs believe that the humanisation of B2B marketing will demand new and different ideas. But developing these is no small feat.
As the number of searches for ‘creative’ has fallen….
…the term ‘how to be creative’ has become more popular.
The implication is that we understand the importance of creativity, but achieving it is becoming even more of a challenge. Ensuring it is also commercially successful is even trickier.
Back to the idea that sparked this article. It was from innovation and design consultancy IDEO and the idea was BIG: everyone can choose how to die, and it can be a positive experience. They didn’t quite come up with the solution on the first try – an app they were working on where people can organise their paperwork and leave messages for loved ones didn’t take off because many of us aren’t comfortable talking about death in this way yet.
Here IDEO is focusing on an issue that is as big as can be, whereas a lot of B2B ideas focus on much smaller topics, centering on micro concerns – those that are mostly relevant only within the particular sector. But the best ideas are both bigger and smaller than this, being relevant on a macro level and an individual level too.
What can this look like? We worked with the leading global natural and built asset design and consultancy firm Arcadis to generate conversations about how cities can meet their economic, environmental and social potential. The team we were working with wanted to look far beyond what the company actually sells, to becoming a global authority on sustainable environments. We created content, such as this microsite, which revealed a ranking of the world’s top 50 cities based on social, environmental and economic factors and allowed individuals to explore why cities had performed well or badly.
This idea works on all three levels – macro (sustainability), micro (infrastructure), me (how does my city perform and what can city leaders do about it?). As a result, the idea flew, beating all its targets for sales, shares, views, visits and coverage by at least 400% each.
People – whatever their job role is during the daytime – are most likely to take action, such as sharing your idea, getting in touch or making a purchase, if they care about it. Emotion causes a reaction, so next time you’re discussing marketing ideas, consider not only is it creative, but is it emotionally relevant to your audience, because the future of successful B2B ideas is all about me.
What is your biggest marketing or PR challenge in 2015? Let us know what’s keeping you or your board awake at night and we will provide a solution to help you sleep.
Julia Burns, Account Director, marketing and public relations consultancy, Man Bites Dog [email protected]