We’ve been thinking... B2C people have an easier life than us B2B content marketers. They appeal to a broad-based audience, and often get to write witty brand stories of little substance but with heaps of charm. B2C has all the bells and whistles and witty slogans - B2B has to keep its top button done up and appeal executive to executive.
Simply put, B2B is a harder sell.
We talked previously about why inbound marketing doesn't always work well for B2B companies, but this article aims to showcase some of the best campaigns that we've happened upon.
Ok, so excellent B2B advertising and marketing campaigns are harder to rhyme off. But where better to start than with a few basic questions...what makes great B2B copywriting zing? What B2B content strategies blew us away? Are there particular formats, themes or tones that have more universal appeal ? What are other agencies out there doing that make us wish we’d done it first? We batted these ideas around the office for a little while. Here’s our top 5 contenders for best B2B campaigns
1. Velocity Partners, Sprint Business campaign (Ian Blake, MD, Squaredot)
So, maybe awe-inspiring B2B campaigns aren’t as multifarious as B2C campaigns, but they do exist - and some B2B agencies are really socking it to the B2C world in terms of imagination, creativity and accolades, too.
‘One of my favourite B2B marketing campaigns was done by Velocity Partners in the UK,’ said Squaredot co-founder and managing director, Ian Blake. ‘As a content marketing agency, we always look for best in class campaigns and Velocity nail it more often than not’.
In 2016 Velocity Partners won the Content Marketing Agency of the Year (for agencies with fewer than 100 employees) for their work on the Sprint Business campaign. It’s an award typically reserved for the Don Drapers of the advertising world - those with an uncanny, intuitive understanding of the consumer’s mind. Yet here was a B2B agency making cool videos on the topic of mobility-as-a-service offerings and installing LAN, WAN and wifi connections in the office space.
Velocity assembled a goodie bag of B2B content marketing tricks, tools and techniques for Sprint. These included a company rebrand, a new website and a methodology for generating new leads - all wrapped up with the proverbial red bow. It was no mean feat - but it worked.
‘Having worked for many years in the mobile telco industry maybe it had more appeal to me personally,’ said Ian. ‘I’ve sold to the persona they make the hero of the campaign, Big Dave. He’s the IT Director/Procurement Manager who typically get little - if any love - in a big organisation. They’re there to save money and crunch numbers. They are usually not very exciting people. They’re good at beating up suppliers and are sometimes criticised for knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Making this traditionally unloved persona a hero was great to see. I felt that if a procurement manager saw this campaign it would really appeal to them.’
‘I also love the tag line at the end - No Capex. No Surprises. No, Really.’
2. Volvo's 'epic splits' campaign (Jenny Berenguer, Inbound marketer, Squaredot)
The melodic sound of Enya’s ‘Only Time’ pulsates in the background; the Flemish-accented, Jean Claude van Damme, delivers a monologue about surviving bumps in the road of life. As the camera zooms out, the actor is contorted into an split-legged pose, mid-foot resting on the wing mirrors of two golden trucks. In synchronised motion, the trucks slowly inch apart. There are no beads of sweat on the actor’s brow; no distant sound of ripped pants as a stressed seam gives way. The music plays on. A subtitle tells us that this is a test demonstrating the stability and precision of Volvo dynamic steering.
It’s a couple of years old, but it’s arguably one of the best B2B adverts of recent times, Volvo’s ‘Epic Split’ (2013) with Jean-Claude Van Damme frequently tops Creative Directors’ favourite list worldwide.
‘I think what’s really exceptional about this advert is that you also even don’t realise that this is actually a B2B marketing campaign,’ said Jenny. ‘This advertising campaign is geared towards haulage and logistics companies. But it makes you forget that this is a B2B product. The fact that there was no cheating, it wasn't computerised special effects - it really was Van Damme doing his epic splits plays into the authenticity of the message. In fact, by the time you’ve finished watching the video, that doesn’t even matter because it’s so enthralling and Volvo have communicated their brand message to their target audience (and a few million others to boot!)’
3. Velocity partners, self promotion (Nicole Zanellatto, Digital Marketer, Squaredot)
‘Like Ian mentioned, Velocity are the B2B content marketing agency who most often grab our attention. However it’s their self promotion campaigns that I’m often drawn to,’ said Nicole.
‘In a noisy space where everyone claims to offer valuable content but often the content is disappointing. You can find it is just people trying to shout the loudest without ever really saying anything. The hyperbole becomes tiresome. The clickbait titles, the listicles, the 10 things you didn’t know about X, Y, and Z. When I read one of these articles, I feel cheated I’ve learned nothing, I’ve wasted my time and I resent having fallen for the clickbait. Velocity are refreshing. They call out the crap, choose a path of insane honesty instead and always find a way of introducing something new to the conversation.”
4. Lockheed Martin, 'The field trip to mars' (Sean Sharkey, Creative director, Squaredot)
It’s rare for a B2B marketing campaign to be a gold standard of high-tech innovation and imagination at marketing awards shows. But that’s the accolade Lockheed Martin took home from Cannes last year. ‘Lockheed Martin build spacecraft that will take people to Mars one day and with their Canne Lion winning campaign, they inspired the first generation who will go there - the kids of today,’ said Sean.
‘They used virtual reality and a magical mystery tour to inspire the next generation of explorers and adventurers. Indeed they reinforced their brand USP of innovate tech just by pulling off the technical requirements of the campaign - by creating the world’s first shared virtual reality experience.’ Clever concept and innovative execution - check out the campaign video here if you haven’t yet seen it.
5. Roomex Business Traveller (everyone at Squaredot)
It's a bit cheeky perhaps to plug our own work, but we promised 5 campaigns so here's a fifth. It's a recent award winning B2B campaign for Roomex that we're very proud of. We'll let the campaign video do the talking, rather than wax lyrical about ourselves!