The words “inspiring” and “B2B” may not seem like they belong together in the same headline. B2B companies have gotten a bad rap when it comes to marketing campaigns, and that rap isn’t entirely undeserved. Our products and services usually aren’t very sexy, and trying to make them sexy with marketing can be challenging, to say the least.
That said, creative marketers have succeeded in creating inspiring marketing content for their brands. Here are 5 of my favorite B2B marketing campaigns from the last year, and a few key takeaways you can steal (ahem, I mean borrow) from them to make your own content even more powerful.
IBM: 60 Years in Singapore
IBM is a tech retail company, but one without the flashy consumer appeal of an Apple or Google. However, IBM has a long and rich history in the computing world, which gives it a unique market position. The brand’s marketing team did a really smart job of leveraging that history in its recent 60 Years in Singapore campaign.
Why It Works
- They paired stories about the history of IBM in Singapore with projects and trends 50 years in the future, showing where the company has been and where it’s going.
- They share first-person stories of real employees and historical events in Singapore.
- Their microsite utilizes a really cool interactive layout and navigation structure.
- If your company has a long history, use it! There are bound to be anecdotes and photos from your business’s history that you can turn into a fantastic brand story piece.
- Instead of telling fictional stories about ideal customers or employees, feature real stories from real people. It’s hard to manufacture stories that feel genuine.
Cision: Public Relations Manifesto
Cision is a media intelligence service for PR and communications professionals. Their services are valuable, but not particularly exciting. That’s why it was a genius move for them to try something a little of the box with their Public Relations Manifesto eBook. In partnership with influencer Brian Solis (who provided the copy) and Gaping Void (who provided the graphics), they were able to turn an ordinary PDF into something pretty special.
Why It Works
- They leveraged the writing expertise, industry experience, and social network of a key influencer to create better content and distribute that content across the web.
- They employed a humorous tone in both the copy and visuals that makes a pretty dry topic way more engaging.
- Their design and visuals are very non-corporatey, which helps offset the length of the piece.
- Find people who share your business’s core values and tap their expertise for your content program.
- Do something different with your content! Try a new format, a different tone, an original graphic style… anything to break out of your typical creative comfort zone.
GE: The Message
GE has consistently invested in brand storytelling over the past two decades, and they’ve developed a number of award-winning campaigns as a result. One of their newest campaigns is called The Message, a serialized science-fiction podcast that brings together tech and aliens.
Why It Works
- They placed more emphasis on developing an interesting story than tying in their products. Their podcast is a genuinely compelling series and never feels like a gimmick.
- The story appeals to our emotions—and emotional content is twice as effective as purely rational content, according to some studies.
- Serialized content keeps people coming back for more content week after week. The Message debuted in the top 10 on iTunes and remained there for the duration of its run.
- Tell a story that resonates with your audiences while emphasizing the unique and interesting parts of your brand.
- Play around with different content types like podcasts and video. People find interactive content more engaging than traditional content types.
- Experiment with episodic content. Audiences love suspense and will be more inclined to follow up with your brand if they’re invested in a series.
NewsCred: High Fashion, Great Content
NewsCred sells software and services to digital content marketers. In their High Fashion, Great Content microsite, they tap into storytelling, brand campaigns, and fashion—three topics that resonate deeply with their target audience.
Why It Works
- They leveraged the brand power and content from top fashion brands like Chanel, Burberry, Nasty Gal, and Net-a-Porter.
- They tied their content into a current event, launching the site in conjunction with NY Fashion Week.
- They used a rich, interactive format for their microsite that brings each of the featured brands and their stories to life.
- Leverage trending topics or events that are relevant to your industry when launching a campaign.
- Name drop brands you admire in your content—or better yet, get them to partner with you to create your content.
- Use interactivity to enhance your storytelling and engage your viewers.
Juniper Networks: Deception Force
Data center security software is about as boring as you can get when it comes to B2B marketing. And yet somehow, Juniper Networks managed to make their product engaging and fun with a mobile game called Deception Force.
Why It Works
- People love playing games on their phone, especially when the app is free.
- The game actually relates to what Jupiter does as a company, without the topic detracting from the gameplay itself.
- It’s an appropriately nerdy idea for data security people.
- Think about ways you can approach your topic in a different format that’s fun.
- Take risks with your content. Don’t be afraid to try something radically different!
- Think about your end users and what kinds of activities they do outside of work. You may be inspired to try a totally new kind of campaign.
The Bottom Line
B2B marketing campaigns don’t have to be dry or boring. These 5 examples are just a few ideas of how your brand can entertain, educate, and inspire your audience with great content, even if your products or services aren’t the most thrilling.