Jon Borgese is Senior Vice President, Global Marketing at Front, a communications hub for building strong customer relationships. Jon has over 12 years of marketing leadership experience. Prior to Front, he served as the SVP of Global Marketing at LivePerson (NASDAQ: LPSN).
When you work in B2B marketing, you don’t often get a great reason to show off your work to your friends and family.
Can you imagine?
“Honey, check out this new webinar on support workflows! We had 800 attendees.” Or, “Hey mom, I’ve gotta tell you about our new gated ebook we launched on LinkedIn — you won’t believe the conversion rate.”
These things are fascinating to me, and probably to other marketers, but they just don’t have the “wow” factor of Doritos’ latest Super Bowl ad, or whatever new TV show Netflix is plastering on trains and buses. B2C marketers get to have all the fun!
B2B marketing has a reputation for being more performance-oriented than brand-oriented. But I think that’s unfair — B2B is just as concerned with brand, but generally speaking, lacks the same level of creativity when compared to the B2C world.
So when we (Front) released our latest marketing campaign, The Human Touch, I was so excited to show it to my Mom 😄. Check it out:
This campaign proves that we B2B marketers can be just as creative as anyone when it comes to advertising. And more importantly, underneath the humor, there’s a sophisticated strategy at work.
Our intention was to create a campaign that firmly anchors our brand to the market problem that we solve.
There are many businesses where almost any customer conversation can make or break the relationship. And when a business grows, more people need to collaborate and share knowledge. There are also more systems with customer information. Teams end up spending more time working through the process than they do actually communicating with customers. They’re forced to choose between continuing to use inefficient email clients or customer service software built to replace the human touch instead of amplifying it.
Any way you slice it, there’s an absence of humanity in the way brands communicate with customers. That’s the problem we solve at Front.
And what better way to visualize that and to crystallize it emotionally than with mannequins? They represent the way companies appear who have lost their human touch in the experiences they deliver to customers.
There’s a whole lot that goes into making your creative and maximizing its impact.
Here are 7 tips that will help any B2B marketer looking to launch their next big brand campaign. Good luck!
1. Make sure your positioning is rock-solid.
Before you embark on any big brand campaign, it’s critically important to deeply understand and document the market problems you solve, your competitors, and how you’re uniquely positioned to solve this problem.
This seems obvious, but when was the last time you’ve gone through this exercise?
Is your positioning still relevant based on how your market has evolved and competitors entering the space? Markets are always changing with more competitors entering and new needs emerging.
It’s 100% worth the time to make sure positioning is rock-solid. And beyond your brand campaign, this is critical to your business more broadly.
2. Figure out your strategic objectives
Your campaign strategy, your creative execution — it all depends entirely on your market, your competition, and your existing brand recognition.
Are you looking to drive broad-reaching awareness around the market problem you solve? Or are you in a saturated market that addresses a commonly accepted problem where you need to really emphasize that your solution is different from the competition?
Answering these questions up front will be immensely helpful as you work through the campaign and creative process.
3. Work with a great creative partner
Very few companies — including massive and well-known brands — create A-level advertising creative (especially videos) in-house. One of the most important decisions you’ll make in the process is picking the right agency.
If you don’t have a go-to agency and you’re picking a new partner, you should make sure they understand your positioning as deeply as you do. The most successful campaigns have a perfect marriage between the creative concept and go-to-market strategy. When campaigns fail, it’s usually because the client and the agency aren’t on the same page.
4. Find a way to trigger an emotional response
At the end of the day, even though we sell to businesses, it’s human beings who actually make the buying decision.
This is where B2B marketers can tend to play it too safe. We like to think we’re purely analytical creatures (especially in the tech industry), but the impetus to act always has an emotional trigger.
Find a way to trigger an emotion and you’ll be remembered—and part of the consideration set if and when the company decides to take action.
5. Your creative concepts are only as good as your distribution
There are some cases in business of “if you build it, they will come,” but this is rarely the case. You could make an Oscar-worthy video ad, but it’s not going to magically get millions of eyeballs on it.
You need to spend at least as much time working on the distribution plan as you do the ads themselves. Typically an integrated approach is best, where you’re “firing on all cylinders” across online and offline tactics. One channel isn’t going to cut it.
And the best part is, you can be just as creative in your distribution strategy as you are with the ad concepts themselves.
6. Think through the conversion journey
Building brand awareness is great, but think through what happens next. Specifically, how will you move viewers of your ad through the funnel? What are the follow-on touchpoints and associated content that will help drive conversion? These are very important things to consider to ensure you make the most from your brand campaign. At the end of day, these campaigns are major investments and the goal is not just to have a sexy ad you can point to and be proud of — it’s to make an impact on your top line.
7. Determine quantitative success measures
I am, at heart, a numbers guy. Data excites me for more reasons than one.
How you quantify your campaign’s success can vary depending on your strategic objectives. And beyond that, there really is no perfect way to attribute success when it comes to integrated brand awareness campaigns. However, there are some important channel-level and overarching metrics to track.
Let’s say you have a video ad running on LinkedIn. You’d track metrics like views, view rate, completion rate, click-through rate and conversions. Or if you’re running a traditional billboard, you’d probably want a specific vanity URL where you’d measure page views and conversion while also evaluating total web traffic in that specific geographic area compared to historical benchmarks.
When thinking more holistically, understanding web traffic and conversions that are sourced by individuals typing in your exact URL or from branded paid or organic search are both good indicators. Make sure to evaluate them in the context of historical benchmarks to understand their incremental impact during the period your brand campaign was running.
The best of both worlds
It feels really good to be able to show off my work to my loved ones — as well as an interested audience of fellow marketers. But ultimately, my family (and yours) would probably get more mileage in the long run out of a campaign that drives business impact.
Thankfully, if we take these important tips into consideration we can have the best of both worlds.