What The Best B2B Marketing Campaigns Have In Common
The best marketing campaigns are like great books: They have something important and interesting to say, and the message sticks with us long after the story’s over. Great B2B campaigns transform potential leads into loyal, long-lasting client relationships—the business equivalent of happily ever after.
What Does a Great B2B Marketing Campaign Look Like?
Although the definition of campaign success varies by company size, the best campaigns all use a few key best practices.
All the best B2B marketing campaigns:
- Talk to their target audience in terms the audience cares about;
- Tell a story their audience hasn’t heard before that directly relates to how well their company’s product works;
- Establish expertise by sharing insights that help their audience solve their problems;
- Show, don’t tell, their company’s competitive edge; and
- Incorporate vivid imagery to solidify abstract ideas and set the brand’s tone.
Let’s look at how and why these are must-haves, with examples of companies putting them into action.
Talk to Your Target Audience in Terms They Care About
Know your audience. That means more than identifying a target demographic and working on a sales pitch. You need to know how your audience thinks, understand the questions they’re asking, and provide the answers they want—in the terms that matter most to them. This includes:
- Referencing relevant statistics or research studies for audiences that are more likely to want to see evidential proof of any claims you make;
- Tailoring the tone of your content to fit your audience’s expectations and needs;
- Keeping content concise for audiences with limited time and attention to spare; and
- Focusing on what your audience wants to know, not just what you want to tell them.
|Example: Software provider defi SOLUTIONS specializes in financial services. Its blog posts tell readers what they want to know directly (e.g. “We already have Salesforce. Why shouldn’t we use their lending solution?”) in a straightforward tone which is perfect for bankers and other time-pressed lenders.|
Tell a Story Your Audience Hasn’t Heard Before That Directly Relates to How Well Your Product Works
Audiences crave narratives. So instead of reeling off facts, figures, and sales points, tell them an interesting story about your products or services.
Your story doesn’t have to be lengthy or even very complicated. It can be as simple as introducing a problem and illustrating how your company can help solve it. Some other examples of how to use this tactic include:
- Referring to relevant, interesting real-life or hypothetical situations that highlight the positive experience of working with, or within, your company;
- Spotlighting testimonials or past success stories to illustrate the effectiveness of the solutions you’re offering;
- Interweaving a personal narrative to help put a face to your brand’s name and story; and
- Sharing your own original, new insights and fresh perspectives.
|Example: Electricity provider Liberty Power used narrative by telling a thrilling tale of how solar energy helped a group of people survive a zombie apocalypse. Actual facts and figures about solar energy are weaved artfully throughout the story to educate the reader while entertaining them.|
Establish Expertise by Sharing Insights That Help Your Audience Solve Their Problems
Once your audience is paying attention, it’s time to show them you’ve got something to say—and that you know what you’re talking about. Establish the breadth and depth of your team’s knowledge and experience by sharing valuable insight. You can establish your company as an industry leader that has the answers they need.
Some ways to achieve this:
- Publish white papers, quarterly or annual reports, or other types of in-depth industry analyses backed up by reliable research;
- Share helpful hints, tips, or detailed how-to guides to instill confidence in your team’s know-how; and
- Inviting collaboration with non-competitive experts in the field to reinforce your brand image and spread the word through third-party media such as YouTube reviews, news articles, and relevant blogs.
|Example: Deloitte put this strategy to use with its in-depth resource portal Deloitte Insights. This magazine-style hub teems with educational articles, videos, and podcasts.|
Show, Don’t Tell, Your Company’s Competitive Edge
With so much content out there, even subject matter expertise can’t convince some potential clients. That’s why the best marketing campaign strategies for B2B businesses emphasize what it is about their company that sets it apart. Is your company culture positive and solutions-focused in an industry known for cutthroat competitiveness? Maybe your solutions are more advanced and cutting-edge, or something completely different from anything else in the industry.
Whatever it is that’s unique about your company needs to be in your marketing campaign’s message. Otherwise, you run the risk of fading into the background.
Demonstrate the unique benefits of working with your company through:
- Subtle implications in your narrative and message;
- Case studies or company reports that showcase innovative and effective problem-solving; and
- Directly stating advantages or comparing them to those of your competitors.
|Example: HomeVestors took this approach to show potential clients the benefits of becoming a real estate investing franchisee. It created a chart listing pros and cons side-by-side. The “cons” are honest, but appeal to the type of driven audience the company wants (e.g. “You have to put in the hard work”.|
Incorporate Vivid, Valuable Imagery
When you think of an advertisement, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a TV commercial, a banner on a website or in a magazine, or perhaps a billboard. Why? Because imagery catches the eye in a way that text simply does not. For example, recent studies show that blog readers may actually pay more attention to relevant, informational visuals (such as infographics) included in a blog post than the rest of the post. It should come as no surprise, then, that the most successful B2B marketing campaigns tend to include some kind of bold, emotive, educational, or otherwise memorable imagery.
In your own campaign, you can use imagery to boost your visibility in any number of ways, such as:
- Using custom graphics or illustrations to highlight your brand’s message or set a tone. An original single-panel comic could help deliver a lighthearted message. A more original take like the zombie illustration above might be needed to break through in a crowded market;
- Including charts, graphs, infographics, or other educational visuals to break down complicated concepts and spark curiosity; and
- Using photographs—especially of real people in your company, if possible, to let readers see the professionals they’ll work with. Don’t hide the pics away on the About Us page; consider a photo for bylined articles, and throughout your site wherever you want to send the message: “Yes, our people are great at this.”.
|Example: Mitsubishi Electric used this approach for their stunning “Tallest Building on the Internet” campaign, which features a fascinating interactive online tour of the titular building that spotlights a few of ME’s specialties.|
Setting Up Your B2B Marketing Campaign for Success
Each of these elements—narrative, expertise, a competitive edge, imagery, and personal connections—is a powerful marketing tool by itself. Keep all five in your “thought leadership” toolbox, and use the right one for each part of your campaign.
The moral of the story for all successful B2B marketing campaigns is:
Original content illuminates the path forward for decision-making readers.
Stories that let audiences reach their own conclusions make strong impressions. Your audience wants options. Don’t try to make their choices for them. Instead, show why your company is best, and let people make their own decisions. They’ll be more likely to choose you.