B2B Companies Can Buck the Norm and Win Big in Marketing

With the ever-growing onslaught of digital noise, the search for quality content is apparent. Creative marketing is the key, yet many times B2B marketers assume that outside-the-box campaigns won’t resonate within their professional environments. But companies that take risks prove that pushing the envelope with creative ideas can spell real success for even the most austere of markets. Not only that, but creative marketing creates a foundation for sustained wins in the future. Let’s take a look at one B2B brand, Taulia, that took a risk that paid off by launching a campaign called “F*ck It” that pushed the traditional boundaries of B2B marketing.

Plenty of readers may interpret the name of Taulia’s campaign as nothing more than a ploy to grab attention through shock value. Joe Hyland, chief marketing officer (CMO) of Taulia, explains why they’re wrong: “I don’t do shock marketing. We use humor which is intelligent and full of personality to relate to people.” This approach to marketing is evident in many of the company’s efforts beyond just this specific campaign. A series of Taulia’s marketing videos employ a parody of Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” with monologues from 5-year-old children that build a different type of relationship with the intended audience. This strategy gives Taulia the ability to use a very tongue-in-cheek style to drive home business value.

Many marketers argue that humor only works within specific demographics, but Hyland disagrees. “All people have humor, even accountants,” he explains. “We find humor and personality to be the most effective mix with our demographic, and we have what many marketers consider a pretty boring demographic.” Taulia markets to financial professionals, accountants, and people who oversee payments for some of the world’s biggest companies and involve job titles ranging from head accountant and director of accounts payable to VP of finance on up to chief financial officer (CFO). Taulia’s campaigns inevitably contain the message of “Pay your bills early!,” which is about the most uninspiring angle I can think of. Despite the banality of the subject matter, however, Taulia’s unique approach proves that creative minds can yield some truly effective results. Just watch their new video to see what I mean.

Taulia reviewed its past video marketing efforts and found that 45 percent of all closed-won deals had involved prospects watching videos on their site; in total, Taulia’s videos had influenced wins worth more than $100 million dollars in revenue. Compared to other past campaigns, their recent (and somewhat controversial) “F*ck It” campaign has already demonstrated even more success than traditional campaigns: It has driven a 28 percent increase in website visits and has 25 percent more completed “Contact Us” forms. Successes like these help Hyland prove the value of content marketing and validate increases in his budget when he needs them. The creative freedom to run campaigns like this also provides far more business benefits beyond lead generation alone.

Taking a more creative approach ensures that Taulia’s marketing team stays focused on something that many marketers overlook: building a future platform for success. Creative ideas come from creative people, yet many times we see content marketing as nothing more than a cog in the marketing machine, rather than a creative outlet with real persuasive potential. The world of content marketing can all too easily slip into a monotonous existence, eventually robbing your department of its creative human capital. I was talking to a content marketer the other day who said, “If I have to write one more blog post on [fill in your keyword here], I’m going to quit.” Lack of creative expression is one of the reasons we see such a high turnover in marketing roles; B2B marketing teams experience an average turnover rate of 24 percent annually (according to a Pardot study).

In sharp contrast, over the four years Hyland has served as CMO, Taulia has had zero voluntary turnover. According to the aforementioned study citing 24 percent turnover, a team of 12 like Taulia’s should have had churn of about six employees over the course of the past four years — not an insignificant disruption. By keeping his top talent creatively engaged, Hyland’s marketing team produces powerful and persuasive content. Many companies could never pull off this level of success coupled with stability, precisely because they don’t have any creative capital built up. Building up your creative capital will allow you the freedom to push the envelope in the future, ensuring a platform is built for your future success.

Generating creative capital isn’t easy – it first must be built and then sustained. Hyland gives the following three simple pieces of advice on how to build up your capital and sustain it as a core asset for your marketing department.

1. Don’t Title Your First Campaign “F*ck It”

Hyland argues that his marketing team members have been given the freedom to be creative because they have proven the value of outside-the-box thinking via multiple wins over time. Test your team’s limits in small ways and then scale up as you build on mounting successes. This is the same advice we’ve heard from Tim Washer, former SNL comedy writer, on the best ways to use humor in content. Creativity is by definition not the norm, and many businesses are risk-averse by nature, so doing something too far off center is going to be tricky unless you take that journey one step at a time.

2. Support Off-the-Wall Ideas

Hyland is a creative at heart and doesn’t want to work at a place where he can’t express that. He believes most marketers feel this way, so he has built a culture that not only supports but encourages and rewards creativity. Using unconventional ideas as jumping-off points allows people to express their creative sides and stay engaged, even when executing campaigns for what some would call a very boring demographic.

3. Maintain Boundaries and Creative Constraints

Taulia uses a very interesting litmus test for their campaign ideas: Can we show this to our kids?Hyland relates an anecdote where a non-marketing employee shared with him how much his children enjoy watching Taulia’s videos. They now use this simple test to determine how far they can take an idea. Creative constraints are often cited as a key part in the creative process, and determining what your team’s own limits are will help you easily sustain creative capital in the future.

Creative capital is hard to obtain for many different reasons, yet it is the difference between sustaining a single creative campaign versus running a successful creative content marketing department. Every marketer should realize that the only way to build a winning team that can sustain stellar results is to constantly build up your creative capital. Remember that cultivating creativity within your marketing department provides more than just increased click-throughs and downloads — it provides your business with a sustainable way to break though the noise and win big with your future marketing campaigns.

Image via Shutterstock.

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