Last month, we introduced our all new podcast, Elevate B2B Marketing, with the goal of helping to elevate the B2B industry. The show features conversations that inform, include and inspire the best of B2B marketing. Each episode features conversations between our CEO Lee Odden and B2B marketing leaders that are creating impact and making a difference in our industry.
The Elevate B2B Marketing Podcast kicked off with the queen of content herself, Ann Handley of MarketingProfs. She shared insights about the new normal of B2B marketing and emphasized the need for empathy and emotion in content marketing. Check it out here if you missed it.
Featured guest, Tyrona Heath, joins this next episode of Elevate B2B to discuss creativity & inclusivity in B2B marketing.
Ty is a leading B2B marketer, speaker, author, athlete and community builder who explores topics at the intersection of behavioral science, diversity, equity, inclusion and transformation. She is Director of Market Engagement at The B2B Institute at LinkedIn, which is a think tank funded by LinkedIn studying the future of B2B marketing and decision making. Ty is passionate about connecting people with information needed to make intelligent decisions, sharing research to help marketers be more productive and successful with a bit of humor. She is also a two time Olympic Trials qualifier and top B2B marketing influencer dedicated to leadership and diversity, equity and inclusion.
“There’s just massive growth potential in the B2B economy. B2B sales add up to be about $9 trillion a year, but it doesn’t focus enough on long term brand building. That means there’s an opportunity for massive value creation.” – Ty Heath“There's just massive growth potential in the B2B economy. B2B sales add up to be about $9 trillion a year, but it doesn't focus enough on long term brand building. That means there's an opportunity for massive value creation.” — @tyrona Click To Tweet
Here are a few highlights and topics covered in the conversation between Ty and Lee:
- What marketers should prioritize during a downturn
- The principles of creativity in B2B marketing
- Marketers’ role in DE&I and breaking human bias
- Repurposing creative that works
- The role of emotion and logic within marketing
- and MORE!
Check out the full interview podcast here:
See the full video interview with Tyrona Heath in episode 2 of Elevate B2B here:
Below is a highlight transcription of our discussion.
What are you most excited about in the B2B marketing world right now?“I feel the energy and the shift in the industry right now. It’s one of the most exciting times to be a B2B marketer.” — Ty Heath @tyrona Click To Tweet
You’ve been speaking all over about the idea of category entry points. Can you elobrate on what that means for B2B marketers?
Ty: Yes, it’s such a revolutionary concept that we partnered with LinkedIn on to bring category entry points to life for marketers. And what they are is about relevant buying situations. It’s about marketers’ ability to match what people want when they think about, although the relevant buying situations that they’re interested in working with a particular brand, and also with what you want to be known for from an investment standpoint.
We want people to think about the fact that the most important search engine is still the one in our minds. So when people think about buying, they start not by searching Google, but by searching their memory.
What the brands need to understand about that is when they search the memory, there’s different memory structures we can invest in building so that people think about us at in that moment when they’re ready to buy. There’s this amazing concept of situational awareness, uh, and it talks about how when people are learning things like for example, learning vocabulary, you recall it best in a particular situation. A study that showed when people learn vocabulary underwater, they’re more likely to remember it when they’re underwater, which is wild! I don’t know who’s doing vocabulary lessons underwater, but it’s the same for brands. The idea of category entry points is to start linking your brand to those particular situations where people are thinking about making a purchase so that you’re actually remembered because there’s so many different common recurring needs, pain points and motivations.
Where should marketers be focusing their time right now?
Ty: There’s a lot of talk about recession. Oftentimes, hard times can be a time where greatness is born. I think from like even just for a mindset standpoint, living in tough times, but good things can happen and teams pull together. It can create the conditions for greatness. So I would just say, as a starting point, we have to take care of our people. We want our businesses to survive, we’re taking care of employees, covering fixed costs, keeping the lights on, um, keeping people healthy and well. Beyond that, there’s an opportunity to build right now.
“Right now, marketers need to work to capture latent demand. Knowing that many customers are not in market right now, but we need to prime our future buyers by investing in our long term branding, customer relationship and marketing.”– Ty Heath“Right now, marketers need to work to capture latent demand. Knowing that many customers are not in market right now, but we need to prime our future buyers by investing in our long term branding, customer relationship and marketing.” — Ty… Click To Tweet
From a creative standpoint, one way to stay to save money is to keep your creative, your successful creative. In good times and bad times, there’s some creative that always performs. The most successful marketers run the same creative for decades, actually. So you think about things like a “Diamond is Forever” from DeBeers. They’ve been running the same creative since 1947. Wow. MasterCard’s “priceless campaign has been running since 1997. So if there’s something that’s doing well, don’t, you don’t have to create new creative, um, you can repurpose your existing” creative. We like to say that good creative wears in rather than wears out from a distribution standpoint. So you wanna look at where you can get high quality reach to reach your entire category, high quality attention and high quality context. LinkedIn is a place where you can do that. Shameless plug.
“Use and repurpose creative that works and reinvest those dollars saved into your media budget to stay present and consistent with your share of voice. You are always building with your future buyers so that you are remembered when it is time to buy.”– Ty Heath“Use and reuse creative that works and reinvest those dollars saved into your media budget to stay present and consistent with your share of voice. You are always building with your future buyers so that you are remembered when it is time… Click To Tweet
The last thing I would say is that the recession is likely to be shorter than your buying cycles. You don’t wanna lose sight of the short term. I think the average recession length of recessions is World War II is about 11 months or so. I think that’s correct. Think about how you can stabilize your business in the short term focus. Like keep, get focused with your team, take care of your team, think about how you’re capturing late in demand, but capitalize on the long term, uh, because it’s not about profiting during recession, but capitalizing on on the recovery.
Can you share more about the correlation between creativity and marketing effectiveness?
Ty: Yes, absolutely. This is an area where we’ve been investing deeply because we see how important creativity is, and there is a lot of potential for investment in b2b I think it’s powerful. I think it’s exciting for b2b, and it offers great potential for talent coming into the space. That’s part of the reason why we’re investing and showing up to create a space for b2b to really shine and invest in creativity. But the, the fundamental underlying reason to invest in creativity is really about this idea of building mental availability. The challenge for most brands is in, is that they have high awareness, but few are, are top of mind. We want them to be remembered, not forgotten in the decision-making process.
“The brand that is remembered is the brand that’s bought. Investing in brand awareness ensures you are top of mind to your buyers.”– Ty Heath“The brand that is remembered is the brand that's bought.” — Ty Heath @tyrona Click To Tweet
We want B2B marketers to win. We want the creative to be emotional and remembered. We want fluency, we want recall, we want people to run their ads for periods of time and do things that really drive memory. And so we talk about a couple different things to help turn this around. Having a story arc to think about how we bring a character into it, the character links to the brand, and this is something that b2c marketers do a lot. When you think about Geico, you think about the gecko, but what does that have to do with insurance? It’s memorable and it’s a great effect. It’s an effective way of being remembered.
Another underutilized thing is sound. We don’t talk about sound. A lot of advertising when you think about jingles, it, it connects you to the brand. I’m guessing people can hear the intel tone in their mind. People won’t remember what you said, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. That’s a Maya Angelou quote, right? And then fluency. Distinctive brand assets are another part. So those are some of the things that we are encouraging B2B markers to invest in. The good news is that we are starting to see a shift here, and I’m excited about that.
On diversity and inclusiveness
Ty: At this stage that we can all accept that when you invest in DE&I, we are gonna see those benefits. We are gonna see the increased innovation, we’re gonna see reduced risk, we’re gonna see increased revenue. I hope that that’s a baseline that we all can expect because we’ve seen the reports that investing in DE&I is good business. What we want to explore more deeply is if leaders accept those findings to be true from all of those different reports, then why don’t we always see the action we would expect to see from leaders who accept that to be true? Where is the breakdown? In our research, it’s the accountability. In our equity every day research, we sought to answer the question, if diversity is good for business, why aren’t people buying?
Is it translating into action? Why aren’t we seeing managerial diversity, women on boards and all of these other things, and the benefit from that understanding. We partnered with Professor Jam Bowman Williams of Georgetown University, and she’s a Harvard faculty fellow now to explore what’s happening. What we learned is there’s this big behavioral science thinking and there’s a gap. There’s a thing called a knowledge action gap, which is really a distinction between people’s real and stated preferences. So one example is, 80% of people may say that DEI is important and they wanna invest in it, only 38% of people take in action in accordance with that. For example, promoting a highly qualified black job candidate. The hypothesis here is that in the gap, is bias: zero-sum bias, again, for, for one community is a loss for another, Cognitive dissonance where people feel they’re very identity threaten by the conversation or something called persuasion knowledge, where a lot of companies will have mandatory diversity training and people feel like it’s being kind of rammed down their throats.
Long story short, we have to get past bias. And that is a very human thing. Uh, there’s no avoiding that. What we’ve seen is appealing to people’s sense of compassion, morality, being able to stand in someone else’s shoes and understand what it’s like to be them is what helps to move the needle.
“When it comes to DE&I, there’s an opportunity for marketers to contribute to how we break through the bias and drive accountability. Marketers are responsible for a great deal of socialization. We tell stories, we create connections to the customer and there’s an expectation from audiences that we take a greater role when it comes to brand stewardship.”– Ty Heath“When it comes to DE&I, there's an opportunity for marketers to contribute to how we break through the bias and drive accountability. Marketers are responsible for a great deal of socialization. We tell stories, we create connections… Click To Tweet
People want to work for brands that they are excited about and that also have a commitment to taking care of the world and various other social justice initiatives. So there’s an opportunity for marketers to lean in here, to tell stories. We’ve seen in the research, statistically significant uplift when people show inclusive ads. There’s a thing called a diversity dividend that we’re able to track in terms of the uplift. People want to feel seen, they want to see themselves reflected.
What should marketers be paying attention to in the new year?
Ty: The B2B Institute’s newest trends report is a representation of our top three trends to pay attention to. I think there’s maybe 25 or 30 different trends that we have on our website at this point. One trend is called the war on brand, and it’s about the balance between long term growth and short term growth. And we’ve talked about that a little bit already with like the 95/5 rule. And another one is called blockbuster marketing, and it’s about creative effectiveness. And then we also have the birth of broad targeting, which is the death of hyper-targeting and all about distribution effectiveness.
“We know from research that investing in brand and brand content makes a difference. Brand is a long term investment that pays off.”– Ty Heath“We know from research that investing in brand and brand content makes a difference. Brand is a long term investment that pays off.” — Ty Heath @tyrona Click To Tweet
Brand effects last longer. They compound over time. It’s a 95/5 rule. It’s your investment in future cash flows, right? For a long time when we think about this war on brand, because we can measure lead gen because it’s happening and the current time marketing has become very tilted. B2B marketing has become very tilted to that towards that. So what we’re trying to show the benefits of investing for the long term and what that unlocks in terms of value creation when it comes to creativity.
So we’ve become similar to lead gen, we’ve become obsessed with it because we can, because we can target the CIO of a pharmaceutical company in Denver with laser precision.
We’re doing that but the challenge is when you do that, you’re making a lot of assumptions. You’re assuming that the data you have to target is accurate. You’re assuming that there’s not going to be an evolution in the committee of buyers that’s buying over time. You are imagining that you know how the category is going to set over time. There’s just so many things as you layer on it can become more and more inaccurate. We want people to recognize buying groups do change. People leave companies all the time. Also, you don’t know who’s making the decision. So it’s better to target broadly, um, what we call relevant reach.
How can marketers be more authentic?
Ty: Let’s first of all talk about what an authentic brand does. What it says to people is that you have, you are standing on something. You can be counted on who you are now is who you’re gonna be one year from now. You can be trusted. It provides securityfor your brand. It de-risks the buying process for people because they know they can count on you.
“Brand and authenticity is something you have to invest in over time.”– Ty Heath“Brand and authenticity is something you have to invest in over time.” — Ty Heath @tyrona Click To Tweet
It’s not one of those things where you can say, you know, here’s something that I stand on. This is an authentic brand. It has to be proven through action. How you show up in your community and how you engage your customers, your employees, or big part that people don’t think about.
Leaders and also your shareholders. There’s a lot of opportunity there for you to invest. It’s something that needs to be done over time. And it’s something that once people see the action they can stand on and trust, it takes courage. I think the brands that are doing it well, they recognize those groups that their companies affect and they focus on serving their interests, not just the interests of the firm. It means showing competence. It means playing fair and equitably, remediating and dealing with challenges or impact that your company has, whether it’s intended or not.
It’s an emotional and logical act to take because you have to expose some semblance of vulnerability in order to build. When people see how you navigate through, what they’re looking for is, will you act in a predictable manner? Can I trust you or not? We businesses have to think about how do I maintain and not betray, um, stakeholder trust to show up authentically and like, what does that look like across those different audiences with different initiatives? And it shouldn’t just be in the marketing department, although marketers can play a big role. It has to be infused in, in terms of how you operate all across the business.