The purpose of this post isn’t to argue that B2B marketing requires outstanding content. I believe that any B2B marketing professional still doubting that is probably not open to the points I want to make…
What I want you to think more about is why and how to add more creativity into your content development.
Since I speak as a 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 the 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 regional 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 none were 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 with your messaging, your messaging is nothing new.
Does any one person or team 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 or creative resource during the creative process?
In my opinion, collaboration among internal departments and trusted outside resources is almost always 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 either don’t know or overlook?
It’s 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 may be different than anyone else because no one has the exact combination of industry position, perspective, 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 fruitful in their B2B marketing efforts.
Ten 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 and it’s no time to stagnate.
- Ask 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. Be curious enough to read other business and marketing stories and make notes.
- 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. Practice your craft. Prepare for meetings. Show up with your game face on and make the most of each one. If you don’t have the best ideas, you can still help shape them.
- 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?