Marketing B2B more effectively: Three rules

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Advertisements are not effective enough for B2B brands, but it does not have to be. Here are three rules you can follow to ensure your ads are memorable.

Financing and marketing are best investments if they’re contrarian and right. B2B marketers should consider top-of-funnel advertising as one of their best investments. At the bottom of the funnel, we do not spend as much money as most B2B marketers do. Additionally, this has proven to be a smart choice, as evidence indicates that a brand can produce more long-term value than lead generation tactics. Let’s suppose, for a moment, you are already advertising your brand.

Do you know of any other ways to beat your competition? Perhaps you should take a closer look at your creativity? We have discovered that 77% of B2B creative is, well, awful. Not effective in the sense that it doesn’t work. The bottom line will be impacted by nothing at all. Regardless of whether your campaign is still generating profits, it’s the media that’s driving them. It is not only contrary to be creative, but also right.

Adverts’ profitability is largely determined by creative work. Great creative can drive sales by 10 to 20 times more than mediocre creative, according to the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute. You can create extraordinary growth for your business if you combine great media with great creativity.

B2B marketing: the formula for success

How does creativity work? Does better financial performance correlate with creative metrics? In order to answer that question, we need to address a more fundamental one: what makes creative brand advertising effective and how does it increase sales?

Using one of Jenni Romaniuk’s favorite terms, “mental availability”, we can introduce the work of the professor. You ask, what does mental availability mean exactly? As Romaniuk puts it in his book, “mental availability is the ability to become known and easily remembered in purchasing situations”.

The B2B brand you remember is also the one you buy.

Creating memorable experiences in the minds of buyers within a category is the marketing person’s job. Where do you find more memory-making opportunities? You can become more creative by following these three rules.

Rule #1: More emotions equals more growth

Unlike facts, emotions are remembered by the human brain. The greater the emotion, the greater the memory. The same holds true for B2B advertising: If your ad makes a buyer laugh or cry or smile, it is much more likely that the message of your ad will be remembered. Therefore, our research conducted with Les Binet and Peter Field in 2019 showed that emotional marketing drives far more long-term growth than rational marketing in B2B. Sadly, there is very little emotional advertising when it comes to B2B. There are still examples to be found, however.


Rule #2: More branding means more growth

If your creativity brings your IT decision-makers to the brink of unbridled delight, imagine the backlash you will get. The question is what happens if you wait until the last minute to brand the ads? IT buyers are more likely to forget who ran the ad and not purchase your products if this happens. Fortunately, there is an easy fix for that: simply brand the hell out of your ads (technical term).


Through System1’s “fluent devices” (in Ritson-speak, “brand codes”; in Romaniuk-speak, “distinctive assets”). Advertisements link your brand into the ad through factors such as logos, fonts, colors, tags, and jingles. Despite the ad’s remarkable emotional impact, Mastercard’s performance wasn’t as good as it could have been on Fluency.

The marketers missed an opportunity to construct a recall campaign by withholding the Mastercard logo and tagline until the end of the ad (its fluent devices). Branding early and often is the key. It’s underrated that overkill exists. Although there are a variety of tools for fluent communication, using characters is the most overlooked. In the same way as a logo, characters give your buyer a soul to relate to, while also making your brand memorable to them.

Each B2B marketer we meet refuses to use character-based advertising for a variety of reasons. With the exception of Colin Fleming, the Salesforce senior vice-president of marketing, who ensures Astro (the feral raccoon child who loves CRM) appears across all digital and offline marketing strategies. Make a character to win market share if you really want it. At least add your logo to every frame of your advertisement.


Rule #3: More commitment means more growth

So profitable creativity must be clearly branded, and emotionally intense. As soon as you develop an advertisement that performs well on those two metrics, there is another step you need to take: commit. Committing us to continuously run those creatives through every relevant media channel, every year means spending astronomical amounts of money.

A recent study from James Hurman and Peter Field shows that the more commitment you put into the creative process, the more likely you are to succeed financially. MasterCard’s Priceless ads started in 1997, and the company has continuously invested in them ever since. Coca-Cola has meanwhile run the same Christmas advertisement for 25 years. Brand advertising is shown to wear in and become more effective with time.

I beg you, for the love of God, quit launching new creative every quarter. Create durable and repeatable platforms instead. Things buyers have seen a hundred times before stick in their minds, not one-offs.

Advertisement that works, profits that grow

Try asking yourself three questions next time an advertisement appears:

  1. When I watch this commercial, am I moved in any way?
  2. Can I determine which brand ran the advertisement within two seconds?
  3. What are my thoughts on this branding platform becoming repeatable?

Despite these evidence-based best practices, B2C marketers largely fail to follow them. In B2B, you’ll find things are downright depressing as well. A common problem with B2B ads is over rationality, poor branding, and unreliability. Those are serious issues. However, it is a great opportunity as well. It is almost certain that your competitor’s ads are awful. It is possible to steal their market share if you can make ads that do not stink. There is a lot of support behind you.



Three rules for more effective B2B marketing


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