In June the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity brought together some of the world’s savviest B2B marketers, brands, and other creative professionals.
From Nike, IKEA, and Visa to Tommy Hilfiger, Microsoft and Target, strong brands and the marketers behind them were involved at Cannes, and the trends they gathered to explore will play a part in shaping how B2B marketers focus their efforts in the months and years ahead.
Here’s a run-down of some of the top B2B marketing and other revelations from this year’s Cannes, and what they’ll mean for your business in 2020 and beyond.
1 — Cannes B2B Marketing Brand Engagement Take-Aways
One running theme at Cannes this year was centered around being mindful of your brand’s purpose, and how it will be especially important when it comes time to meet your audience’s needs and make the greatest impact.
Being a change-maker brand comes from honing in on consumer desires, so listen to the signals coming from the online platforms where your customers and potential clients spend the majority of their time.
Don’t entirely eschew machine learning when it comes to your data, but build brand trust by ensuring that appropriate and responsible humans have data oversight.
Look to feed off competitive momentum and focus conversations and cultural discussions using creativity, and keep it sincere when it comes to brand activism, while avoiding all hints of opportunism, many at Cannes urged.
Brand engagement, especially through influencer marketing, has been the focus of several recent articles we’ve published, including these:
- Hitting Your Target: Why Account-Based Marketing and Influencers Are the Perfect Match
- 11 Qualities You Should be Looking for to Find Your B2B Influencer Match
- 7 Top B2B Influencer Marketing Trends for 2020
2 — Cannes B2B Marketing Consumer Journey Take-Aways
Dig in and embrace the sometimes-messy digital world where your potential customers interact, by communicating with them and taking the time to learn about their lives through what they’re posting online, because cold and impersonal data can only get you so far in the customer journey.
These raw and real connections can unite and forge new relationships in ways that polished marketing campaigns sometimes just can’t, and some of the winners at Cannes showed examples of building these types of connections.
Build strong brand value while also allowing customers to take the wheel, nurture the connections your brand makes, and don’t be afraid to build strong creative partnerships in your efforts.
Valuing the participation of consumers while also standing by your brand’s values were among the trends explored during Cannes this year.
Strive to build a seamless voice search approach that meshes with the values and messaging of your brand or that of your client, as sound is the newest frontier for B2B marketers.
We’re written about smart search recently, including in these helpful articles:
- Hey Alexa: How Do I Bake Voice Search Into My B2B Marketing Strategy?
- How B2B Marketers Can Win at Search with Best Answer Content
- Optimize Your B2B Content Performance with an SEO Audit
3 — Cannes B2B Marketing Diversity Take-Aways
Cannes made efforts to find and highlight the areas in marketing where diversity continues to be lacking, led by people over 50 and those who are differently-abled, and spent considerable time exploring how setting aside fear and risk can lead to huge economic and strategic opportunities.
Going beyond hiring, diversity should move towards being more of a core piece of a brand’s values, some of those gathered at Cannes noted.
Adding diversity key performance indicators (KPIs) to existing performance metrics would go a long way towards making inclusiveness an important part of opportunity pipelines, and ultimately bottom lines, it was noted during Cannes.
4 — Cannes B2B Marketing Long-Term Planning Take-Aways
Connections coming from unexpected places and new experiences are poised to change how B2B marketers expand beyond traditional sources, and an emphasis on the power of creativity to strengthen organizations was made at Cannes.
Brands and how they reflect culture at large will become more of a joint initiative at successful firms and in strong marketing efforts, especially in creative campaigns.
Cannes showed that creativity will likely thrive in the coming year, even more-so when it’s increasingly expressed as a team effort, done in what some gathered for the week called real-time branding, with all involved having a creative stake in new marketing initiatives.
Having a relevant and flexible B2B marketing strategy, and building innovative creative methods whether working solo or with an agency, were also take-aways from Cannes this year.
We’ve explored both long-term planning and the question of when is the right time to partner with an agency, in recent articles such as these:
- How to Boost Your Content Marketing Efforts By Planning Ahead
- 5 Marvelous B2B Content Marketing Lessons From Mrs. Maisel
- How to Choose a B2B Marketing Agency that Can Evolve with Your Needs
5 — Cannes B2B Marketing Storytelling Take-Aways
At Cannes a more transformational flavor of storytelling was seen as coming down the pike, one that will help evolve the narrative with more levels of both client and customer experience, all combining to bring better communication to consumers.
Rapidly-expanding digital technologies and more data than ever present challenges, but also massive opportunities, especially when the two combine to help creative storytelling efforts that help drive B2B marketing efforts.
Creating compelling narratives and delivering them in new and relevant ways will play a factor in marketing in 2020 and beyond, and firms utilizing solely technology to overcome marketing barriers may be left behind.
Learning to better recognize the people behind the data and the numbers was also seen as a key trend at Cannes, along with greater incorporation of empathy and intuition in marketing processes.
Neuroaesthetics and an evolving method of storytelling that is always-on will expand on traditional forms of narratives that have been largely limited to a beginning, middle, and end.
Micro-storytelling efforts will also help brands shows that they are listening, and encourage consumers to create and share their own stories.
A few of our helpful looks at storytelling in marketing are these:
- Once Upon a Time: Storytelling in Today’s B2B Content Marketing Landscape
- Be Like Honest Abe: How Content Marketers Can Build Trust Through Storytelling
- 6 Ways to Bring More Boom! & Less Boring to Your B2B
6 — Cannes Trust in B2B Marketing Take-Aways
We’ve focused more than ever on trust in marketing over the past year at TopRank Marketing, with pieces such as these:
- The B2B Marketing Funnel is Dead: Say Hello to the Trust Funnel
- Trust Fractures: How to Avoid Accidentally Eroding Your Brand’s Credibility
- Trust Factors: The (In)Credible Impact of B2B Influencer Marketing
At Cannes the power of trust played a major role this year, and how to regain it using transparency, authenticity, and empathy, after being compromised over the past several years in the eyes of many.
A theme that resonated throughout the week was that nothing secures a relationship as powerfully as trust, which is the cornerstone of any long-term partnership.
Trust in platforms and technology were also at the forefront on Cannes this year, and admonitions to shift to marketing strategies that are more real, open, transparent, and true were common themes for rebuilding broken trust.As the old adage goes: Trust is gained in drops and lost in buckets. #B2BMarketing #trust Click To Tweet
Building on Marketing Lessons From Cannes
These six major theme take-aways in the areas of brand engagement, customer journeys, diversity, long-term planning, storytelling and trust from this year’s Cannes can play a part in your own B2B marketing strategy as we head ever-closer to 2020.
You can also learn more by joining us at upcoming speaking events and conferences. Our CEO Lee Odden will be speaking at Content Marketing World this fall, where on September 3 he’ll be presenting “How to Develop a B2B Influencer Marketing Program That Actually Works” with Amisha Gandhi of SAP, and a solo session on September 4 exploring “Content Marketing Fitness – 10 Exercises to Build Your Marketing Beach Body.”
Our Senior Director of Digital Strategy Ashley Zeckman will also be speaking at Content Marketing World, in “Guardians of Content Vol 1: How to Scale B2B Influencer Content to Save the Galaxy.”