Over the last two decades, B2B marketing has seen a significant bias towards short-term lead generation over long-term brand building activity – leading to an astonishing decline in creative effectiveness. This was recently validated by global marketing research and effectiveness agency, System1, which uses facial recognition technology to measure the emotional response to advertising with a five-star ‘emotion-to-action’ score. The ads with the highest ratings evoke a strong mix of emotions, with surprise and happiness leading the mix. And B2B ads significantly underperform against their B2C counterparts, with around 80 per cent of ads scoring only a one-star rating. And while that is alarming, it is not that surprising when you look at the quality of work across the industry.
Part of the problem is that there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding among marketers about what emotional communication actually is. It is about making your audience feel. Building a connection. Evoking a smile, a laugh, a look of surprise. Unfortunately, as we see so often in B2B, many believe that it simply involves using a stock image of a parent holding a child’s hand as they walk through wheatfield towards a sunset.
Given that creative campaigns that evoke emotion are six times more effective at driving sales, profit and market share, the most rational thing that B2B marketers can do is to invest more in creativity and emotionally led campaigns. As well as new research, we now have various econometric models that enable us to attribute brand-building activity directly to sales and market share in a much more immediate way – so the arguments for investment are now much easier to justify to company stakeholders, who may have previously questioned large investments in marketing activity that was difficult to measure.
Creativity in B2B needs a renaissance and B2B marketers need to remember that emotive campaigns that build brand equity have the biggest role to play in shifting the needle for their organisations over the longer term. The industry’s ‘creativity’ currently plays it far too safe and there’s no bigger waste of marketing dollars than running a campaign that goes unnoticed. True creativity has stand-out and memorability built-in – and that is what makes for effective marketing.