I’d like to have words with the people perpetuating the myth that B2B marketing must be boring. In fact, I’d posit that B2B marketing has never been more relevant to the entertainment trends audiences are seeking, especially on social media: concise, informative, and pleasantly surprising.
For a perfect example of this trend, look no further than @stuffaboutadvertising on TikTok (and yes, this counts as B2B marketing), where a charming copywriter delivers micro case studies, tips for optimizing portfolios, and incredibly relatable timesheet memes.
Because of the complex nature of most B2B offerings, educational content is a marketing must have. Entertaining educational content, however, is not a given.
Think of two intersecting circles in a Venn diagram: The left circle represents what brands want to talk about; the right circle represents “what audiences care about.” The intersection of these two circles is where “edutainment” lives and where B2B marketers can thrive.
Here’s where to start to hit that sweet spot:
Find the human element
Good storytelling can make even the driest subject matter sing. Just ask accountants. With a campaign called “Difference Makers,” the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) made heroes out of one of America’s least desired professions by showing the important role finance professionals played in fighting to bring back factory workers laid off by the pandemic through a tapestry of real-life stories. The organization amplified the campaign on social media during a time when isolated audiences flocked to the platforms seeking connection.
Take advantage of native platform behavior
Did you know that 1/4 of podcast listeners like to speed up audio when they are listening to content so they can consume more information? BNY Mellon did. And it used that insight to grab the attention of listeners of The Economist’s Money Talks podcast. In its “Podfast” campaign, it created “editorial” content at 2x speed and then slowed down the ad, its way of showing customers that it looks at the financial world from every angle.
Production investment isn’t just for B2C
Passion points like art, film, and music don’t go away when someone suits up for work, but too often B2B marketers ignore cross-over potential that our B2C counterparts use to make their campaigns engaging. B2B can and should invest in playful formats that blur the lines between ad and story. For instance,ABM AMRO created “The Dark Side of Money,” a short film to raise awareness around money laundering and recruit millennials to apply to be financial crime analysts. The campaign consists of one case study video and an 11-minute thriller film with top-class cinematography and storytelling.
Answer customer need
The pandemic plunged the world into uncertainty and introduced a specific content demand: forecasting—the opportunity to predict what’s coming during this transitional time. B2B brands can leverage their specific areas of expertise and/or proprietary R&D to imbue their messages with high value equity.
A leading healthcare provider recently created a successful edutainment program built on this practice. Anthem’s “The Benefits Guide” is a magazine-like virtual guide where users can find articles and resources about new policy changes, benefits updates, and overall shifts in a post-pandemic world.
In the democratized world of virtual events, reintroduce exclusivity
Developing VIP content is like creating a line outside a new store to generate buzz: It makes people want to participate, and those who do feel like insiders. That was the thinking behind Eaton’s My I.T. Galaxy, which asks IT professionals to sign up for exclusive access to build planets and play intergalactic pinball, served up with insights and infographics.
I hope these insights provide inspirational fodder. And who knows, maybe this time next year, B2C brands will look to learn from us.