The purpose of this post isn’t to argue the merits of inbound marketing with creative content. I believe that any B2B marketing professional still debating against that is probably not open to the points I want to make.
Since I speak as senior creative director, you may be surprised at how broadly I apply the word “creative” to B2B marketing. I think every part of the process, from assessment of an opportunity or problem, to the formulation of a strategy and budget, to the creative development of messaging and imagery, to the way your story is told all benefit from being more creative.
Fight for your right to be more creative.
Quite a few years ago, I was introduced to an assistant general manager of a client’s field office by one of their marketing directors. She mentioned I was a creative from the ad agency and, as we shook hands, he said,“Oh yeah, you guys are the ones that do all our fluffy stuff!”
I wanted to punch him in the nose.
But judging from his smile I decided it wasn’t an intentional insult, so I simply said, “Well, not exactly.” I’ve thought of many better responses since, and not one was the least bit fluffy.
Maybe I should’ve asked him some of the questions I’ll ask you now:
What value does creativity add to B2B marketing?
I think it makes all the difference and, if you aren’t different, your message is nothing new.
Does any one person or team really have all the ideas that it takes to help a company thrive in the marketplace?
Absolutely not. Great ideas can come from anywhere— even great questions. Ask around.
How much should an internal staff collaborate with an outside agency during the creative process?
In my opinion, collaboration with clients can be a good thing, if everyone is open-minded and engaged.
Do you dare let any creatives near your salespeople, technicians, customer service reps or customers? How about your customers’ customers?
The closer to “street level” the creatives can get, the closer they get to the Big Idea. They see and hear things from a new perspective, and might learn something from what, to the client, is routine.
With so much advocacy for content marketing, just how creative does your content need to be?
Content doesn’t have to be as wildly creative as it should be fresh, relevant, helpful and actionable. Aggregating content for use in marketing from various sources is a creative process in and of itself.
What’s the secret known by advertising and marketing creatives that most others don’t know?
It’s really no secret. Keep it simple and don’t be stupid. Refining a message, an image and a story to its core essence is part of the creative process in marketing, and in storytelling.
How do you invest more creativity into your marketing process and make sure it pays dividends?
Set realistic goals and always be testing. There’s more than one way to tell your story, and there are more ways than ever to measure who’s noticing, listening to, looking at and acting on your messages.
Your answers to these questions will be different that anyone else, because no one has the exact combination of industry position, challenges, opportunities, competition and customers as you do.
I would greatly appreciate your comments or alternative answers to any of the questions above. You have a creative side—what are your thoughts?
I also made a quick list of things I think may help anyone looking to be more creative and successful in their B2B marketing efforts.
10 ways your B2B marketing can be more creative:
- Don’t be lazy. You’re in a competitive sport; be professional about it. Wherever your creative efforts are the least bit amateurish, hire outside professionals.
- Never quit learning. This is the best time ever to be in marketing, but it’s no time to stand still.
- Think of great questions. Great questions lead to great answers and big ideas.
- What’s your first idea? Sometimes your first idea is your best. Now see if you can better it.
- What’s your worst idea? When you’re stuck looking for the best idea, switch gears and think of what would be the worst idea. Sometimes it lightens the mood, changes your perspective and leads to a great idea.
- What’s your story? Marketers are in the storytelling business. Much has been written on this, so read up.
- What’s the hook? Why should anyone listen to your story? Draw them in with a compelling question or provoking statement or image.
- Don’t limit your time on creative development to work hours. Sleep on it and wake with it. If you have an idea, write it down or it will evaporate like a good dream. Keep a pen and pad near the bed.
- Keep working on it. Marketing is a sport, but it isn’t all fun and games. People’s jobs depend on you.
- Now cut it by half. Once you have your marketing messages and creative content worked out, simplify it. What can you take out? If it’s not critical, it’s clutter.
Surely, this list isn’t complete. What points would you add? What helps you with your creative process?
If you would like to learn more about the creative side of B2B marketing, here are some great links:
Creative Approaches to B2B Marketing – An article by Dr. Jon Buscall, managing director of Jontus Media, based out of Stockholm, Sweden.
Best Way to Kill Creative B2B Marketing? Focus Only on B2B Marketing. – Interesting article from the Hubspot blog.
Creativity: The Missing, Yet Critical Element For B2B Marketers – A great post by Maria Pergolino on the Marketo blog.