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The death of the B2B marketing campaign

Forget campaigns, it’s all about marketing commitments according to Paul Cash, CEO at Rooster Punk

Much is changing in the marketing landscape. The good old-fashioned B2B ‘marketing campaign’ is being replaced by something all together more substantial, engaging and purposeful – the B2B marketing commitment’.

Let me explain. For decades B2B clients and their agencies have developed marketing ideas that are intended to help drive sales in a limited period of time i.e. a marketing campaign. Campaigns suited everybody:

  1. They allowed clients to plan several campaigns over an annual period.
  2. They fitted the client’s product/service roadmap and updates.
  3. They suited the budgetary process i.e. qtr by qtr.
  4. They were a simple way to manage and engage creative agencies.

However, in today’s hyper connected, always-on world the traditional B2B marketing campaign fails to connect with its audience for several reasons:

  1. As B2B buyers and decision makers we don’t want to be sold to anymore.
  2. The majority of B2B purchase decisions start with a Google search i.e. they are inbound driven rather than outbound generated.
  3. Social media is a 24/7 medium; we can’t successfully build communities/dialog with our customers and then turn them off when the campaign budget runs out.

Clear is the new clever
Savvy business buyers are presented with an endless choice of B2B brands and vendors they can buy from. They understand they are in control but too much choice can be mind-boggling. They are looking for emotional and rational short cuts from brands and vendors that help them create a mental shopping list. Beyond the creation of content, web sites, reviews, guides and so forth they are looking for something extra – they are looking for something that gives them a feel good factor when they choose a B2B brand.

Unfortunately, the majority of B2B brands struggle to connect with their customers on a more emotional level. Too much focus on corporate value propositions delivered in tired and unimaginative ways has left much of B2B marketing cold and lifeless. It’s now less about what a company makes and sells but how it makes and sells it.

B2B buyers look at companies and subconsciously place value on the implicit activity of the company. Smart companies are tackling this change in mind-set by focusing more on their implicit communications and developing strategic marketing commitments.

For example:

O2 Telefonica has invested heavily in a global, digital accelerator programme for start-ups called Wayra. They provide the funding, office space, mentoring from O2 executives and other third parties, access to investors and much much more.

So what does O2 Telefonica get out of this investment?

  1. Corporate pride: A sense of social responsibility that they are doing something positive to accelerate the entrepreneurial culture in Europe and South America.
  2. Skin in the game: Their 40,000 Euro convertible loan in each company gets converted into a small equity holding if the start-up secures secondary funding.
  3. Employee Engagement: The chance for O2 executives to get out of their corporate bubble and work with bright, young entrepreneurs and learn and share ideas and experiences.
  4. New technologies: A pipeline of innovative new ideas and technologies that can form part of the O2 Telefonica portfolios of services they offer their customers.
  5. Opportunity: The chance to birth the next Facebook or Google.

All over the UK other companies are doing similar things. They recognise that by adopting causes and issues within their industry and communities they can create marketing commitments that energise their employees, create a feel good/do good factor and most importantly can be the critical factor that tips the balance when it comes to B2B buyers making a purchase.

So start thinking commitments not just campaigns, it’s the best way to engage your customers and your employees.