Why Can’t B2B Marketing Be More Creative Like B2C?

B2B marketing creative octane11

It’s been over a week since the Super Bowl and I’m still marveling at the creativity of (some of) the consumer ads that played during the game — “No Way Norway” from GM, “Flat Matthew” from Doritos, and that 5-second ad from Reddit (yes, I paused to read it) topped my list. That said, I’m also left musing about why B2B ads are usually so boring by comparison. Here’s my quick take on the top three misconceptions that lead B2B’s to underinvest in creative thinking…and what you can do to break through these blockers.


1) “We Don’t Have Enough Time to be Creative”

>> The biggest problem with B2B marketing is that teams have become so bogged down with the minutiae of execution and measurement that there is no time to level up and be creative.  Running campaigns across channels and capturing digital signals to deliver real intelligence to sales & marketing teams is important…but not at the cost of creating an emotional connection. This is a big reason why we created Octane11 – to make it way easier to connect all paid, owned and earned digital signals directly to sales activity, so teams can spend less time crunching numbers and more time thinking about “the big idea” marketing messages. 


2) “The Canvas isn’t Big Enough to Warrant an Investment in Creative”

>> You don’t see B2B ads during the Super Bowl (except maybe “prosumer” companies like Intuit Quickbooks or Squarespace) because B2B companies typically need to reach much more targeted audiences of business decision-makers. But just because B2B’s aren’t taking out big splashy ads, doesn’t mean the investment in creative is a waste of resources. B2B’s can get a ton of leverage from their creative investments by “multiplexing” creative concepts across a wide range of targetable formats – Connected TV ads, desktop/tablet/mobile ads, audio ads, social posts, well-placed digital out of home, etc, etc – all with a unified creative thread. When B2B’s run a campaign on a single channel, of course, it’s difficult to get ROI on creative investments…but when you’re thinking multi-channel, every campaign is worthy of an investment in creativity. 


3) “We have to choose between big creative ideas and promoting features — and features always win.”

>> Well, actually you need to do both. And you can do both with the right framework. Start with a creative, attention-grabbing creative concept…and then layer on features and selling points as “facets” of the overall story. You can map those facets to specific audiences (customer types, personas, etc) when it comes to targeting, but you should continuously ladder up to the bigger creative concept via headlines, imagery…and of course tracking. Remember, as a B2B marketer you need to both describe the elephant and the unique features that make it special. 


Operational complexity, fragmentation of media, and too much emphasis on features are some of the top blockers to more creative marketing in B2B – but you can break through with the right tools and framework. What else is holding you back from creating campaigns that cut through the noise and build an emotional connection with your audience? 


At Octane11, we’re working with some of the most innovative B2B sales & marketing teams to simplify their digital activities, extract more signal from noise…and free up more time to be creative. If you want to learn more about how we can help your team, come chat with us at www.octane11.com