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The B2B boom: don’t let these myths bust your momentum  

Despite the surge in B2B marketing, most marketers aren’t tailoring their storytelling to reach their target audiences. Selena Cameron of WPP’s content marketing agency SJR debunks some common B2B myths

It’s boom time for B2B marketing.

You’ve read the statistics: B2B ad spend is up 9.3% from last year (and up 58% from 2020); and 50% of executives say that things like high-quality B2B thought leadership have a strong impact on purchasing decisions during a period of economic downturn.

Smooth sailing ahead, then? Not quite.

Despite the tremendous opportunity, many B2B marketers are solving modern challenges with outdated thinking. Here are four myths that we need to band together and banish, starting now.

Myth 1: B2B = B2C

Talented strategists continue to pull out their standard advertising toolkits to meet B2B objectives, ignoring the gulf between B2B and B2C marketing.

Building trust in B2B requires a different storytelling strategy from the one built for consumers. It can be human, but it has to decode complexity, transfer knowledge and establish expertise. Luxury handbag content promises you’ll be the most fashionable person in the room, whereas good SaaS content promises you’ll be working with the smartest person in the room.

Myth 2: B2B has to be sterile

B2B marketers don't have to completely strip their content of emotion.

There’s a middle ground between a sentimental ad and stultifying banner copy offering a buzzword soup of business transformation.

In B2B, emotion needs to be delivered in a slightly different way, though: by marrying informative content with creative, human-centric storytelling and shared values. Unlock the stories of your people and not just what challenges they are solving, but why.

Myth 3: B2B has to be universal

Mass consumer marketing was our industry’s greatest accomplishment in the 20th century. However, while B2C marketing continued to evolve to apply the latest in targeting and micro-segmentation, much B2B marketing still feels stuck in that bygone period.

B2B messaging isn't ever one-size-fits-all, even when it’s powered by the latest MarTech distribution. Trying to talk to everyone means you’re talking to no one. Members of the C-suite have very different motivations and drivers, which means you need to be specific in your messaging.

Myth 4: the campaign is king

With apologies to the late and great David Ogilvy, it’s time to move away from the campaign – at least for B2B marketing.

In an era where there are no truly shared platforms and every day feels like another future shock, why are we still creating artificial inflection points to talk to people? That campaign that took months to concept could be dead in the span of a one-day news cycle.

To really move the needle, you need to be listening and responding to the constantly shifting conversations and creating your own micro moments of relevance from your brands and leaders. Anything less risks seeming out of touch with your audiences.

Cycles of growth come and go; let’s use this time to create a new toolkit and give B2B marketing the attention and results it deserves.

Selena Cameron

SJR

published on

04 May 2023

Category

Communications Experience

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