B2B marketing is boring, doesn’t feature influencers, and uses only monotonous white papers and lifeless case studies — we’ve all heard these stereotypes, but what is the reality of B2B marketing in 2020?
The traditional image of dull B2B marketing has been turned on its head in recent years, and we wanted to explore 10 top myths and show how the state of B2B marketing has gone from bland to unforgettable.
Let’s dig in and break down the biggest B2B marketing myths, and look at how your brand can benefit from the new era of business marketing.
1 — B2B Marketing Goes From Boring-2-Boringest
The grand-daddy of all B2B marketing myths — dating back nearly to when the term business-to-business was coined — is the notion that it stands for boring-to-boring, with marketing about as exciting as forty shades of dreary gray.
As we’ll explore throughout this post, the B2B marketing of 2020 has left boring in the dust, replaced with exciting and truly memorable content experiences.
As the B2B marketing landscape continues progressing from its dusty Boring-To-Boring roots, business customers are expecting content and experiences that are increasingly similar to what B2C efforts have long provided.
Today’s B2B customers expect to find all of the relevant information they seek brought to life through an online interface that’s not only easy to search and navigate, but one that’s also chock full of interactive and story-rich user experience features that make interacting an entertaining experience, such as our “Laser Bear.”
“Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating. You know you can’t bore people into buying your product, you can only interest them into buying it.” — David Ogilvy Click To Tweet
Click Here to see the Break Free from Boring B2B Guide in Full Screen Mode
2 — B2B Marketing Doesn’t Use the Cool Social Media Platforms
You won’t find B2B brands actively sharing content and interacting on Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, Pinterest, Twitch, or other fun and fresh social media platforms.
Fortune 500 firms regularly now have social media presences on fashionable social channels such as Giphy, Snapchat, and even Facebook Horizons — the social media giant’s foray into the virtual reality (VR) world — all gaining new B2B brands at a faster pace than you might imagine.
Our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite recently took a look at “6 Unconventional Social Channels for B2B Marketing,” showing how B2B brands can gain a competitive edge by adopting unconventional social channels.
Out client Dell Technologies offers a fine example of how B2B brands are embracing nontraditional social channels, with its Dell Technologies Giphy page.
Despite using social media more than any other demographic, Gen Z is most at home not on traditional mainstream social platforms but increasingly on gaming platforms, according to recent Kantar study data, which showed that 90 percent of the demographic use gaming platforms to serve roles similar to those social media does for some 59 percent of the general population.
To learn more, we’ve also looked at how B2B brands are successfully using various social media platforms:
- 5 Top B2B Brands Mastering Facebook Engagement
- 5 Top B2B Brands Delivering Exemplary Twitter Engagement
- 5 Top B2B Brands Maximizing LinkedIn Engagement
- How 5 B2B Brands Are Using Snapchat and Instagram Stories
3 — B2B Marketing Doesn’t Relate to Real People & Their Stories
B2B marketing isn’t about me or my real challenges, and never even attempts to appeal to people like me — instead it just continues to put forth insincere messages targeting people who don’t exist in the real world.
Telling real stories about actual people has catapulted B2B influencer marketing to the forefront of business marketing success, while B2B marketing in general has also continued to embrace the importance of storytelling.
We’ve set out to tell the intriguing stories of many top B2B marketers in our Break Free B2B video interview series, to date featuring 23 industry professionals such as Amisha Gandhi of client SAP Ariba and Kelvin Gee of client Oracle, sharing their insights and passions.
Another benefit of telling the stories of real people in B2B industries is that it lends itself well to the creation of episodic content, as our senior content strategist Nick Nelson explored in “Hungry for More: What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Episodic Content.”
Additional takes on how storytelling benefits B2B marketers are available in our following related articles:
- Once Upon a Time: Storytelling in Today’s B2B Content Marketing Landscape
- Be Like Honest Abe: How Content Marketers Can Build Trust Through Storytelling
- You Have 8 Seconds – GO! Brand Messaging Secrets With Debra Jasper at #Pubcon
4 — B2B Marketing Never Gets Heard, or If it Does It’s Quickly Ignored and Forgotten
B2B marketing is just wasted effort, since nobody ever really reads it or pays any attention to its boring business-suit-and-briefcase imagery. Who would ever remember a B2B advertising message, anyway?
Study after study continues to show that real emotion makes us remember digital content and messaging, and smart B2B marketing has grown significantly in its use of the kind of authentic storytelling that people will remember.
The most-shared ads during the last Olympics were all loaded with hard-hitting emotion from brands like Panasonic and Apple, and the Super Bowl perennially features similarly emotion-packed spots from brands like Google and Microsoft.“Stories are just data with a soul.” @BreneBrown Click To Tweet
5 — B2B Marketing is For Stodgy Old People
B2B marketing is for stodgy old fuddy-duddies, and has no relevance for anyone under 40 or 50.
B2B marketers freshly out of college are having tremendous impact in today’s professional brand messaging, and are bringing with them their younger takes on B2B marketing, which will increasingly drive the industry.
Thanks in large part to the successful inroads B2B influencer marketing have made for brands looking to reach younger audiences, when an influencer recommends a product, 51 percent of Millennials say they are more likely to try it, according to research data from Valassis and Kantar.
Gen Z and Millennial B2B marketers who have grown up with newer social media platforms are occupying ever-more positions of power all the way up to corporate marketing management — a move that has helped today’s B2B marketing look decidedly different from that of even five years ago.
Snapchat recently published a study exploring brand expectations among Gen Z, finding that 82 percent of the demographic want brands to act on customer feedback, while a similar report from Campaign Monitor also found Gen Z’s social media platform preferences to differ from those of older generations.
“The B2B marketing of 2020 has left boring in the dust, replaced with exciting and truly memorable content experiences.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis Click To Tweet
6 — B2B Marketing Should Never Include Interactive or Experiential Content
B2B audiences don’t expect or even want interactive or experiential content when it comes to brand messaging — they want only dense black-and-white case studies of at least 200 pages, or white papers filled with serious professional business information.
B2B audiences have been starved for interactive and experiential content for far too long, and in recent years have come to expect much more B2C-like digital experiences which incorporate truly entertaining, memorable, and interactive elements.
With 98 percent of consumers more likely to make a purchase after an experience (Limelight), and 77 percent having chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that delivers a personalized service or experience (Forrester), more B2B marketers have begun to use experiential content.
In 2020 experiential content comes in many forms, with just a few examples being:
- Virtual Reality (VR)
- Augmented Reality (AR)
- Cloud-Based Digital Assets from Ceros and Other Platforms
- Quizzes and Polls
- Interactive Flipbooks and eBooks
Experiential content is also intertwined with both storytelling and customer experience (CX), together becoming an extremely powerful triptych of B2B marketing strategy.
You can take a closer look at the growing field of B2B experiential marketing here:
- What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Experiential Content
- The B2B Marketer’s Journey To Experiential Content at #B2BMX
- Break Free B2B Marketing: Sruthi Kumar on Creating Memorable Experiences
- 31 DIY Marketing Tools To Create Remarkable Experiences
- Top 10 B2B Digital Marketing Trends in 2020
7 — B2B Marketing Doesn’t Have Influencers
Influencers don’t exist in B2B marketing, because they are only for hawking cosmetics and pushing designer clothing lines on Instagram — what relevance could influencers really have in the professional B2B world?
Influencer marketing in the business world has never been more vibrant and thriving, especially the kind of always-on B2B influencer marketing our CEO Lee Odden has explored in articles including “Always On Influence: Definition and Why B2B Brands Need it to Succeed.”
Influencer marketing will see global brand spending up to $15 billion by 2022 (Business Insider Intelligence), and with more people using social media and spending greater amounts of time doing so, B2B influencers have a bigger audience than ever.
This may explain why influencers are seeing rising engagements with a variety of firms, as even the World Health Organization recently worked with influencers for its latest “Safe Hands Challenge” hand-washing campaign.
B2C and B2B influencer marketing are undoubtedly very different – and ever-evolving – undertakings, as we recently explored in “B2C vs. B2B Influencer Marketing – What’s the Difference?”“The output of B2B influencer collaboration can be in any form that the brand is currently publishing content: text, video, visual, audio, interactive and even VR.” @LeeOdden Click To Tweet
Learn more about B2B influencer marketing with these insightful looks at how brands are using it to achieve success, and dig in to recent influencer marketing statistics here:
- Four Ways to Optimize the Marketing Performance of a B2B Influencer Program
- 24 Essential B2B Influencer Marketing Statistics
- How B2B Influencer Marketing Offers Brands an Ideal Alternative to In-Person Events
- Jumpstarting a Pilot B2B Influencer Marketing Program in 5 Steps
- 5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers
8 — B2B Marketing is Pointless & Impossible For Brands Than Aren’t Billion-Dollar Firms
B2B marketing is only for billion-dollar mega-corporations looking to attract other massive Fortune 500 firms — and it doesn’t have any relevance for a company with less than 10,000 employees.
It doesn’t take billion-dollar firms to create priceless B2B marketing efforts. Indeed, some of the most successful and memorable B2B marketing campaigns are coming from small-to-midsize firms, especially those that are using B2B influencer marketing.
Our content strategist Anne Leuman recently took a look at “5 Examples of Effective B2B Content Marketing in Times of Crisis,” featuring several smaller firms including HealthcareSource and our client monday.com, showing how they are putting out timely and helpful marketing messages during the pandemic.
Social media and influencer marketing have helped level the playing field not only among large B2C and B2B firms, but smaller B2B businesses as well.
Being savvy and nimble can propel a business a long way in the B2B marketing world — perhaps even over land and water, as Shakespeare once noted.“Nimble thought can jump both sea and land.” — William Shakespeare Click To Tweet
9 — B2B Marketing Isn’t Even Well-Suited for Social Media
B2B marketers shouldn’t even use social media, since business audiences don’t use social platforms, or if they do, they’re not there to find serious B2B information.
Nearly everyone uses social media in 2020, with global active social media users topping the 3.8 billion mark recently, and that includes almost all the business professionals in every B2B industry.
Social media and B2B marketing go hand-in-hand these days, and smart marketers recognize the importance of this intertwined system, and work hard to inform and delight on every social channel where their brand’s customers are actively engaging.“It doesn’t take billion-dollar firms to create priceless B2B marketing efforts.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis Click To Tweet
10 — B2B Marketing’s Only Real Channel is LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the only social media platform B2B marketers ever need to use, because it’s the only one those in B2B industries ever really utilize.
While it’s true that LinkedIn is the top social media platform for B2B marketers and professionals in general, and still represents the go-to source for business information when it comes to social — and we’re not just saying that because they are a TopRank Marketing client — if you’re limiting your efforts solely to LinkedIn you’re missing out on key industry players who happen to spend the majority of their social media time on other platforms.
As we’ve shown above, there are a wide array of social media channels B2B marketers are finding vital to their brand efforts. With every Fortune 500 firm now represented on LinkedIn, however, it’s a platform that should be included in every B2B marketer’s mix.
Soar Beyond B2B Myths With Powerful Marketing Tactics
Now that we’ve made an effort to dispel these 10 common B2B marketing myths, we hope that you’ll be better able to power your next marketing campaign using the tactics we’ve looked at, and create B2B content that inspires and enchants while also providing best-answer solutions.