B2B marketers aren’t cautious, they’re scared. They’re serving up vanilla content to everybody and nobody. Because who could be offended by vanilla?
I’m talking about the content Seth Godin describes as “Tater tots for everyone.” The stuff that’s easy to click, sniff, share, produce and learn. But would you miss them if they were gone?”
Safe marketing is like white crayon on white paper.
The aim here isn’t to blend in, it’s to get noticed and stay noticed.
Great B2B marketing juts. It doesn’t play the record, it scratches it. It doesn’t paddle in the sea, it skinny dips at midnight. It dances on the desk at work.
Only when we step outside our warm, furry-walled comfort zones do things get interesting.
Content That Takes Risks
I nearly changed the title of this blog post, but then I thought fuck it. Why? Well, I knew I needed to grab your attention somehow—and here’s the thing…
B2B marketers do need to stop caring so much.
Stop caring so much about breaking conventions.
Stop caring so much about hitting a bum note.
Stop caring so much about being perfect.
Because the best marketing takes risks.
It has impact.
It’s brave enough to take a new route, open a new door, explore new possibilities and do it all with an unerring belief in its reason for existing.
That’s just it. Marketing needs to be brave.
The average person scrolls through 300ft of content everyday (the same height as Big Ben, give or take). We're in a time where you simply can’t afford to be creating middle-of-the-road content. If it doesn't trigger a response and stick in the mind, it becomes a waste of time and resources.
Let’s look at some B2B brands who know what I’m talking about…
It’s easy to forget that MailChimp is B2B.
The cartoonish branding and bizarre campaigns have a very billboard consumer feel.
One marketing campaign saw the MailChimp team reinvent itself under multiple aliases including Kale Limp, MaleCrimp, JailBlimp, FailChips and VeilHymn.
The campaign was fronted with the message:
We’re not so concerned with what people call us. We’d much rather show you who we are. Because we believe the best way to build relationships with customers, fans, or anyone else is to be yourself. For us, that means having some fun with our name.
It’s this don’t-take-yourself-too-seriously attitude that does it for MailChimp. They’re comfortable in their own skin, not afraid to take things left field and are constantly looking for ways to arouse curiosity in people.
Earlier this year they offered me a free sandwich…
It's not what you’d expect from an email marketing and automation service provider, but it sure as hell seems to be working for them. It caught my attention, anyway.
Video communication leaders Zoom have been known to take a tongue-in-cheek approach when it comes to creating digital content.
Relatable and well-executed, this “real life” video provides an observational caricature of the struggles of a conference call.
This is the kind of content we love. It’s about as human as it gets.
We're big fans of Zoom, we use it daily.
Here they took common pain points and demonstrated them in an accessible way. They showed genuine empathy, and by the end of the video you’re smiling and nodding in total agreement, “Yes, I’ve been there”.
And then, in that moment of emotional connection, they offered the solution.
Slack found a creative way to package up headline findings from their research.
The business software maker has developed a striking content strategy hinged on the use of strong visuals and an eye for simple brilliance.
B2B buyers like numbers—data gives them something concrete.
When 77% say they conduct a more detailed ROI analysis before making a final decision (see what I did there?), it’s hard to argue.
Slack did something really smart here. They combined data with creativity to produce digestible chunks of content that delivers cold, hard statistics in a warm and inviting way.
It's All Human
Marketing fails when it doesn’t mean anything, to anyone, anywhere. When it tastes like every other super saver ice cream in the freezer.
“We don’t surgically remove the funny bone when we step into work or turn on the laptop.” - Henry Clifford-Jones, Director at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions
We don’t suddenly grow fond of the mundane either.
Creative content is human content, after all. It’s the stuff that makes us think and question and laugh—and all the other little things that matter.
So, step out of that comfort zone and be brave.
Get in the fast lane.