7 Bad Tactics For Creative Marketing In B2B

Author
Dmitry Chervonyi
Published
12.16.2019
Reading duration
8m
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We all love creativity. We enjoy colorful distractions and appreciate the imagination. We admire those who manage to break the mold and introduce something familiar in a brand new package. Whether it’s our everyday life or work, we all crave something special, something that leaves an impact

B2B is a field that benefits from creativity as well. When you sell a rather standard product and have high competition, focusing on how you sell your product is the only way to get ahead of your competitors. But how hard is it to do things in a creative way? Since the internet has been introduced to our lives, every user got access to the tools and platforms necessary to create content at their leisure. This resulted in the impression that creativity is something that comes naturally to most people, so you don’t need to invest in your marketing efforts or hire an expert to plan and handle your campaigns.

But nothing is ever that simple, we all know it. Let’s see what kind of mistakes you can make when tinkering with creativity and how it can impact your B2B marketing. 

1. Using cliches 

The abundance of stock photo websites has made everyone’s job easier, but at the same time introduced a completely new kind of nausea. Nothing feels more annoying than coming across one and the same generic business-themed photo with a couple of Photoshop filters thrown on top and a #B2B hashtag attached to it. We’re not in 2000 anymore. People have become less forgiving toward generosity

That means your photos of coffee cups, organizers and businesspeople shaking hands are nothing but white noise to them. They're not interesting, they're not captivating, they're not original. They're simply in the way. If anything, a cliche approach to presenting your services will more likely distort the nature of your brand rather than highlight it. 

The same goes for words. There is a reason why we suggest avoiding such words as “best”, “sale”, “hot offer” when writing an email template. Spam filters didn’t just start randomly identifying words as spam — it’s the result of them being overused, abused and exploited. In B2B marketing, overused language can become a red flag for your potential buyers. They may think that if you have to resort to the trendy words, you have nothing of the essence to say. That should not the purpose of your B2B marketing campaigns. 

2. Getting crafty with your subject lines

  • {Name}, emergency in your office / {Name}, new office rules / {Name}, is this your phone?

The text in the body then reveals that there is no emergency in your office (but the subject definitely made you look!), and if you then proceed to explain the real purpose of your email, bring up your unique value proposition, and describe the benefits of your product or service, your prospects will likely be amazed at your creativity and actually respond to your email. But let’s be honest, would you even want to speak with someone who had to fake an emergency at your office just to start a conversation? 

  • {Name}, please confirm your booking / {Name}, finalize your contract with {CompanyName}

Subject lines like these cause anxiety. You see them popping up in your inbox, try to recall the name of the company but your memory is blank and nothing makes sense. So you open that email cautiously only to find out that there is no booking or contract…yet. The sender just presumed that their company is so awesome that booking an appointment with them or becoming their client is just a matter of time. In fact, they are so confident about it they saw nothing wrong with using this subject line. Some senders don’t see any harm in that. Some senders are deliberately manipulative, pushing your buttons. In both cases, this is still another shade of dishonesty. And dishonesty has no place in B2B communication. 

  • Best customer bonus from {Company name} 

A bit similar to the previous type, these subject lines promise a reward to lure you in and then slap you in the face with their value proposition. They try to give you an emotional demo of how nice they are to their customers, so it's in your best interest to become one. It may work in B2C when you use your email account for all sorts of things. However, when you manage a business inbox with a custom domain name, emails like this are infuriating. Not only they treat you like an easy-to-impress consumer but they distract you from more relevant emails sent by more humble and honest companies. 

We’ve briefly mentioned this issue before but there is no harm in bringing it up again. Dishonesty is the killer of sales opportunities. Also, these misleading subject lines are penalized by the SPAM CAN act. So you may not care what people think about you but you should care about the threat of punishment looming over you. 

3. Ignoring consistency

There are a lot of companies whose style is all over the place. They don’t have a color scheme, their website design combines a wide range of different elements in a way that hurts the eyes. Their educational materials are plain and bland but their sales presentations are flashy and over the top. The tone of their language changes in every paragraph. 

This is simply tiresome. Each time when you add a new page, write a new report or an e-book, you struggle. But why do this to yourself? 

Shaping and establishing a corporate identity gives your company a more solid, reliable look, connects all your products, assets and services together — and saves your time in the process. Invest in a brand book, so that whenever you make new content, you have a template with the right color scheme, font, and overall style. 

4. Not letting the memes go

We’re living in the world when everybody regardless of their age is aware of the latest memes, trends, and slang. However, woe to those who decide to use the latest trends for their B2B marketing. 

No, there won’t be a catastrophe. Your company won’t explode and the world won’t end. However, it won’t bring you the results you expect. You may imagine that your prospects are familiar with the smart style and the memes and they will stick around just because you're funny and approachable. However,  if we drop the facade and go back to being realistic your prospects will be either indifferent or sometimes even frustrated.

Even if people know the internet subculture, it doesn’t mean that they know and understand everything — or that they like it. When they come to you, they expect to talk shop, and not to be bombarded with the content they actually try to evade in their day-to-day. 

5. Confusing humanity and goofiness

B2B has often been branded as emotionally stunted due to its reluctance to try out new ways and let go of the old-school approach. In the world where humanity and emotion became the new bonding agent between vendors and customers, it’s terribly easy to slip up. For example, some businesses become way too friendly in their communication, sending cute dog photos together with their follow-ups, telling jokes or even being more concerned about the prospect’s day than their prospective cooperation. 

Humanity is deep and complicated. It’s more than laughter or an upbeat attitude. It should be natural, not forced. But when you go out of your way to be friendly, you may actually make your prospects uncomfortable, cornered even. In other cases, you can come off as condescending, refusing to acknowledge them as experts and discuss a business subject that is imperial to their company’s success. 

So, why do a pointless-but-relevant comic or video when you can create a creative how-to tutorial for your product? Why write a novel or do a fun photoshoot with your employees when you can design a webinar?

6. Using one style for all platforms

Yes, your brand image should be wholesome. But even if a single metric like, say, 84% of your Facebook audience aged between 29 and 34 matches that of LinkedIn, it doesn’t mean that you can recycle one and the same type of content. You must understand the purpose of each social media platform in your B2B marketing campaigns. Publishing your research pieces on Facebook won’t bring you as much leads as doing the same on LinkedIn

7. Staying in the box 

The world of B2B is based on caution. Treading slowly and carefully causes less friction than diving in headfirst. However, you still have to pay the price for being too restrained. For example, your marketing teams come up with an idea. It’s a nice idea, really smart and memorable. However, you decide to play it safe, so you tell your marketers to scrap it and go back to the usual routine. 

Then, a couple of weeks goes by ad suddenly your competitor comes up with basically the same idea but, unlike you, they roll with it — and the end result is a huge success. Since you share your target audience, it means that you could have been the one in the spotlight. If only you had a little more courage! 

Conclusion 

B2B creativity is not as simple as B2C. However, creativity is never simple. It too needs discipline and requires the right combination of imagination and realistic, even pragmatic vision. To make sure that you never repeat any of the mistakes mentioned above, stay aware of the SPAM CAN act laws and know how to listen to people. Don’t hold onto your ideas up until the very last moment. Don’t be shy to discuss them — and never be afraid of criticism.

Let your colleagues or even test groups take a look at your idea. See what they say. This way, you would know where to go from here and how to keep your creative content relevant enjoyable.

Dmitry Chervonyi

Chief Growth Officer at Belkins
Since starting his career in sales & marketing 9 years ago, Dmitry never stopped searching for new opportunities that can turn the tables on sales development and the ways that shape B2B relationships. He is always eager to share his findings with the audience.
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